INDIANAPOLIS – On the first snap of the 2012 preseason opener against St. Louis, Pat Angerer broke a foot that altered his season and made it one of the toughest years of his life.
A participant in 11 games and starter only in three, Angerer pushed through doldrums that now are a distant memory.
"Yeah, definitely, (a) long road," said Angerer. "A lot of people put a lot of work into it. (There were) a lot of doubts. Doubts start to creep into your mind. It's nice to finally be out there contributing."
Contributing is one word, starring is another. Angerer has starred in the Colts' past two games, victories over Denver and Houston that have moved the Colts to 6-2.
Late in the Denver game, Angerer swiped a pass after Erik Walden batted Peyton Manning's arm. The fourth-quarter pick gave the Colts a two-score lead in an eventual 39-33 triumph.
Last Sunday at Houston, Angerer stayed at home against mobile quarterback Case Keenum. Keenum bedeviled Indianapolis in the first half with three scoring passes and with the Colts finally ahead, Keenum tried a keeper from his 45 with 2:54 to go.
Angerer was waiting and hog-tied Keenum for a three-yard loss. On the next play, Angerer delivered a hit on Keenum's release, forcing another ball in the air the Robert Mathis nearly turned into a game-sealing interception for a score.
Angerer's 17 tackles topped the team. His 52 rank third on the club behind Jerrell Freeman (83) and Antoine Bethea (65), while nearly eclipsing 2012's total of 57.
Last year, Freeman said he would love to play consistently with Angerer in the middle because,
"He's Pat, right? He's always around the ball, a great linebacker."
Hopes turning to reality have not dimmed Freeman's view.
"Pat's definitely getting into a good rhythm. We have a good relationship and we kind of think the same, so we see a lot of situations exactly the same," said Freeman. "It's good working with a guy like Pat. I'm glad he's 100 percent. He can fly around like the old Pat Angerer."
A great portion of the attention for three comeback wins has gone to the offense, but Angerer feels the in-game adjustments by defensive coaches and the buy-in nature of his teammates have played a big role.
"Our coordinators are making so many good adjustments," said Angerer. "We're constantly trying to improve, constantly trying to get better from the time we step on the field to the time we step off.
"(We're) just a bunch of guys who are constantly coaching each other up and everybody just wants to win. We got the players and we got the coaches. I think if we just execute better from the beginning, it'd be a lot easier on everybody. A fight (close game) every once in a while ain't a bad deal."
Manusky knows Angerer's 2012 health situation retarded progress, but he sees a player hitting stride now.
"Pat got a foot injury in preseason (last year), came back and really wasn't quite right," said Manusky. "He got banged up a little bit more in (this past) training camp, then he came back and kept on getting better and better.
"The process with him, I think that's what it is (a process). Lately he's been making some plays. Now he's getting into the rhythm of things and seeing things the way he should be seeing."
Angerer has been on the field roughly 284 snaps (55 percent), a far higher percentage of the time than last year, the first season of the 3-4 scheme.
Merging new players with tenured ones lends a feeling of progress of Angerer, not one of complete understanding in the scheme.
"We really haven't played together that much," said Angerer. "I think we've done a good job. (We're) definitely have done a good job fighting and improving every week. There are still a ton of things we've got to work on and definitely got to execute better at the beginning of games. Once we really start to get a grasp of things, I think the sky is the limit."
Angerer left Lucas Oil Stadium sky high after the win, meaning he cannot wait to appear again.
"Last time, it was so much fun," said Angerer. "I just look forward to getting back under those lights and with the crowd behind you. They just bring so much (energy). Sometimes it gets so loud we can't even talk to each other, so we just play. It's great."
PRACTICE REPORT – Did not participate: NT-Josh Chapman (knee), CB-Josh Gordy (groin), S-Delano Howell (neck), RB-Trent Richardson (ankle), G-Hugh Thornton (calf), CB-Greg Toler (groin); Full Participation: Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring), LB-Cam Johnson (knee), LB-Robert Mathis (shoulder).