ANDERSON –LaVon Brazill is like 26 other rookies in Colts camp in that he is trying to make a mark.
The 5-11, 191-pound receiver from Ohio University, the club's sixth-round draft pick, has been displaying his talents through the first 11 days of camp, and he is poised to see his first action this Sunday when the Colts host St. Louis at 1:30 p.m. in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Brazill has been competing in a wide receiver mix that numbers 11 players, and he is in the number of prospects to be returning kicks this weekend. For good measure, on Monday in the afternoon practice he tossed a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Austin Collie after taking a pitch from quarterback Drew Stanton.
It was an eye-opening play and while Brazill may not be ticketed for regular duties with his arm, he hopes to use his legs to make an impact.
"I have to work my way up," said Brazill. "I knew it was going to be me having to fight for a position, so that's what I'm doing and working hard every day. Learning from Reggie (Wayne) and Austin Collie and all the other guys, Quan Cosby, Jeremy Ross. They're all showing me the ropes, so I'm just looking forward to that."
The Colts will have a young offense this year, with newcomers dotting the 11-player landscape. There is opportunity as well on special teams, and that is where Brazill likely will make his mark.
He currently is listed as a backup to Wayne on the left side, and he is listed this week as the first-team punt and kickoff returner. With receiver Donnie Avery possibly down this week with a thigh injury, Brazill should be able to find the playing field on Sunday.
"I love punt returns. I want to get on punt returns and do kickoff returns as well," said Brazill. "Special teams are everything. That's where you make the team. We have three great receivers in Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Donnie Avery. They're going to be our guys on offense. I'm trying to make my mark as a special teams player."
Brazill had a nose for the field in college. He appeared in 41 games, totaling 187 receptions for 2,515 yards and 18 touchdowns. He recorded scoring receptions of at least 65 yards in his sophomore and senior seasons. He also averaged 8.1 yards on 82 punt returns, and he took four returns the distance. The second-team All-America pick left Ohio as the school leader in receptions, reception yards and scoring punt returns.
In vying for time on the field, Brazill and fellow draftee T.Y. Hilton have gained notice from Special Teams Coach Marwan Maalouf.
"I think it's still a little soon, but I love our returners," said Maalouf. "(T.Y.) Hilton and (LaVon) Brazill are catching the ball real well. We have a bunch of young linebackers. I think the head coach said we have over 55 or 60 guys who have an 'R' a 'one' or a 'two' next to their names. We have a lot of young guys we're getting reps. I don't think a lot of them practiced (in college) the way we practice. This is newness, and they've all been taking to it very well. We have to coach them up right away and get them ready to go."
Maalouf, who was a part of dynamic return games with Cleveland and Baltimore knows the importance of winning the special teams plays. The hidden yardage each game in special teams is a large determining factor in the outcome, and he is looking for difference-makers who can help sway that advantage to Indianapolis.
"He (Brazill) brings a different physicality to it, said Maalouf. "He's a fast guy and returning right now, he's not thinking about it. He's just running, which is great. He's catching the ball way better than he did in OTAs. He's come a long way."
Brazill wishes he had been able to participate fully in the club's spring work, but he had to grind out the final academic obligations at Ohio. Afterwards, he did some post-school work with the Colts by meeting quarterback Andrew Luck for workouts both in and away from Indianapolis.
"(Andrew and I) have been on the same page. We've been working hard in the offseason," said Brazill. "I actually went out there to (California) to Stanford and worked out with him to get our timing up. We also did a little work at Butler University. I think our chemistry is close, but I want to build that chemistry a little closer. I've just been working hard every day, and just staying focused."
The Indianapolis roster reflects 41 of 90 players being either rookies or first-year performers. All are looking for ways to earn the coaching nod and play in the fall. Special teams is the usual entry point.
"Special teams is a big part of the game, and you have to be a special player to be on them," said Brazill. "Special teams wins games and if you can't play special teams, you can't play anything. That's the place for me to make my mark. I hope to make it there and build as a receiver. I know our receivers are set, so I know where to make my mark – any way in."