Colts Cornerback Jacob Lacey Looking Forward After Solid Rookie Season
INDIANAPOLIS – Now's no time to stop working.
And Jacob Lacey said as he sees it, just because he had some success in his first season with the Colts is no reason to change the approach that made him one of the team's surprise stories in 2009.
Yes, he emerged as a solid contributor on the Colts' defense.
And no, few would have expected that a year ago.
But Lacey, who made the Colts' roster as a rookie free agent last off-season and played a crucial role in the team's run to Super Bowl XLIV, said he accomplished those things by being focused, by working hard and by playing as if nothing were guaranteed.
And now's certainly no time to stop that.
"I don't think I can settle down in any sense," Lacey said recently during the Colts' 2010 organized team activities at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"It's a new year. Everybody else is trying to get better, too."
Lacey, after making the Colts' roster last off-season as a rookie free agent from Oklahoma State University, not only held a roster spot throughout the season, he did far more, emerging as a key reason for the team's success.
His season didn't go unnoticed, either.
He not only played in all 19 games – the only Colts cornerback to do so – he also was named to the 2009 All-Rookie teams by the PFW/PFWA and Sing News.
All of which was great, Lacey said.
And all of which means very little entering next season.
The idea now, Lacey said, is to build on what he learned last year and to very much not become complacent based on last season.
"Every year's a new year," Lacey said. "You're either going to get better or you're going to get worse. You don't want to be complacent in any sense. That's why we do this (the off-season conditioning program and the organized team activities).
"You have to come in and work. You know the system and you know how the team is trying to approach things defensively. Everything's not new, and with that, you want to try to gain some ground in what we're doing."
Still, Lacey said without question things are a bit different. Familiarity makes that true.
Last off-season, Lacey said a lot of his time was spent learning the names of people around the Colts, learning where things were – not only in the Colts' practice facility, but around town. Those were the things that any person must learn in a new environment, and with those things learned, more focus can be placed on football and improving, he said.
"You're more comfortable around here," Lacey said. "Everything is not completely new to you, and in that sense, there's comfort, yeah, but you have to have that mindset. You have to stay hungry."
Lacey, after starting last season as a reserve, moved quickly into the third corner role, then started the fifth game against Tennessee. With starters Jerraud Powers and Kelvin Hayden playing through a variety of injuries, Lacey started eight of the last nine games and also started the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XLIV.
He finished the season with three interceptions, returning them for 53 yards, and he also turned in one of the team's most memorable plays of the season, returning an interception 35 yards for a touchdown in a 42-6 victory at St. Louis in October.
He also finished the season fifth on the team in tackles – first among cornerbacks – with 78, while also playing a key role on special teams. He finished with 11 special teams tackles.
He also had 13 passes defensed.
"Confidence is a little higher from last year, but it's a different year," Lacey said. "Things might not fall the way they fell last year."
Lacey said earlier this off-season he sat down with Colts assistant Rod Perry, and reviewed his rookie season. There was good, Lacey said, and there was bad, and Lacey clearly saw areas that could improve.
"I saw some positive things and I also saw some negative things," Lacey said. "Me and Coach Perry, we watched those plays. I'm probably my hardest critic, personally, so some of those plays you would have liked to see yourself do better.
"You look at yourself and you see, 'What can I do to make my whole game better instead of having 'X' amount of good plays and 'X' amount of bad plays."