Townsend Adds Depth, Experience to Defensive Backs Unit
Selected in the fourth round of the 1998 draft by AFC rival Pittsburgh, the Colts' newly-acquired free agent, Deshea Townsend, may have found a new place to call home.
Townsend brings a winning mindset and a strong knowledge of defense with him as he enters his 13th season in the league.
The former Steelers defensive back is no stranger to winning championships, collecting one as a high school senior at 5A South Panola High School in Mississippi and helping the Steelers to Super Bowl titles in 2005 and 2008.
Townsend, who played his collegiate career at Alabama, could not be happier with where he landed after 12 seasons with Pittsburgh, and could likely have an impact as a nickel or dime corner with the Colts.
"It is always great to be wanted," Townsend said. "(Head) Coach (Jim) Caldwell and Mr. (Bill) Polian both laid it out that there are some young guys here that need some experience. Getting the opportunity to come and play the game that you love is what I'm all about. Also, sharing experience with these young guys. It's is important to care about your defense and run it right."
Caldwell sees Townsend as a savvy veteran who can help the Colts with their depth and experience in the defensive backfield.
"Obviously, he's going to help," Caldwell said. "He's going to help in terms of great experience. He's been around the block a little bit. Anybody with that kind of experience who has played as well as he has is going to be of great value to us, so I think he'll blend in quickly. (There are) probably not too many things he hasn't seen. He's a real technician, and we're happy to have him."
But while Indianapolis' defensive backfield is young, there are still many solid veterans in that group.
Kelvin Hayden tallies the most experience at the corner position entering his sixth year and while Jacob Lacey and Jerraud Powers were both rookies last season, both saw significant action.
There is a little more experience at the safety position as Bob Sanders and Antoine Bethea are entering their seventh and fifth seasons, respectively. Melvin Bullitt, entering his fourth season in the league, also has starting experience having opened 21 games the past two seasons.
Hayden welcomes the presence of another veteran with solid maturity into the mix.
"He is an experienced corner with a lot of knowledge 12 years in and he can only help us out," Hayden said. "It is good to have him here, and it is good to have a guy of his caliber here to show us some things."
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning agreed after having faced Townsend for much of his career, and Manning did not hide his allegiance to the Southeastern Conference when speaking about what Townsend brings to this team.
"I'm glad to see we've signed Deshea," Manning said. "He's a solid veteran who's been around winning football and a winning organization. That can only help, and we certainly have a depth issue at cornerback due to some injuries we've had, due to some free agency. So I really hope Deshea can come in here and add that veteran leadership to a pretty young group of corners with Kelvin Hayden being our main, vested veteran, if you will. I think anytime you have a veteran from a winning organization that's a plus.
"I know Deshea. I've played against him since college. He's a Mississippi (native). It's good to add an SEC guy."