Colts Second-Year Linebacker Session Ready for Bigger Role
INDIANAPOLIS - Things are calmer now for Clint Session.
And that, he said, is the biggest difference for him now from several months ago, when he was a rookie linebacker for the Colts, a player with ability trying to make an impact on a contending team. And he said he hopes it will continue to be a difference next season.
At times, he said, things weren't real calm a year ago.
And still, he said he played OK at times.
Those times have given him confidence entering next season, confidence that he can play at the NFL level, and play at a high level there . . .
If only he can stay calm.
"Last year, I kind of played a little reckless," Session said recently during the team's organized training activities, 14 days of on-field work that will continue at the team's training facility through Thursday.
"I was like, 'If I'm going to make a mistake, I'm going to make a mistake full speed. If I get caught and get cussed out, the coach might get me for being in the wrong place, but he's not going to yell at me ever about my effort.' That was my mindset.'
"I looked at film last year and I was like, 'I'm making plays, but I'm also running around wasting steps when I could just be worried about the main things.' This year, I see myself more fluid in my backpedals, in my drops and reading the quarterback's eyes. I'm a lot more fluid."
What Session saw as a reckless version of himself still made plays for the Colts last season.
And that version made them in some crucial situations.
Session, a fourth-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, started one of 13 games last season, finishing the season with 23 tackles, 16 solos. He had two interceptions, and also forced a fumble.
"Clint Session is there," Colts President Bill Polian said. "He just needs to be consistent doing it week in and week out."
Session, who played collegiately at Pittsburgh, said he agrees, and one reason is his performance last season.
Session spent much of the season as a backup outside and inside linebacker, but played extensively in five games because of a slew of injuries to the linebacker position. He made his first NFL start against San Diego on November 11, and made five tackles with two diving interceptions.
"It gives me a lot of confidence," Session said. "The few plays I made last year, it allowed me to know I can make those plays. I can play this game with the best. San Diego was a good team and a couple of other plays I made, it lets you know you can play with the best.
"Last year, around this time, it was just like, 'I've got all these guys around me, all of these amazing athletes around me.
"Now, I feel like I'm a part of it. I'm one of these good athletes as well."
Session said to reach the level where he can make a weekly, consistent contribution, the key is improving his mental approach to the game.
That has been his task during the summer-school sessions, and in the offseason conditioning program. He has been watching film at home at nights and reviewing notes.
"My focus right now is all mental," Session said. "The way I feel, the way I work, I always work hard. I'm always going to taking care of the physical year-round. This whole off-season is mental. All the coaches know I'm an athlete. They know all of that: 'OK, Clint, we know that. We want to see you be a little sharper, and taking over and being a leader, getting guys lined up the right way, being a big name on this team and being a part of this team and contributing to a higher level.' That's my focus, is to come out and stay in my playbook, watch extra film and balance my time and be a better linebacker.
"Every coach expects a lot out of us, especially the second-year guys. Sometimes, a coach will say, 'We've been telling you this for two years.' That hurts me, to hear that from a coach, that we've been telling you this for two years, because you know you should know this by now."
Mostly, Session said he has spent the off-season not only processing advice from middle linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett, but making the advice a personal credo.
Session said Brackett reminds the team's reserves almost daily that they could be in a situation to start in the event of an injury.
"Every day he's talking about that: 'You're an ankle sprain away – let's go,''' he said. "That's his mindset."
A year ago, Session said he heard Brackett's message.
This season, he said he's doing more than just hearing it.
"I'm so excited, just for the simple fact that last year I wasn't an ankle sprain away from being a starter," he said. "This year, I'm an ankle sprain away from being a starter. (Former Colts linebackers) Rob Morris and Rocky Boiman, they're doing their own thing now, somewhere else. Now, I'm that guy: 'An ankle sprain, you go in and we expect you to play well.'
"Last year, you could tell me 10 times, 'Be ready, you might go in today,' but you're like, 'I haven't gone in yet.' Now, it's the real deal.''
Third NFL season
San Diego State
Acquired: Third Round, 2006
Keiaho started 11 games at weakside linebacker in 2007, finishing the season with 101 tackles, 58 solos, a half a sack, three passes defensed and an interception. . . . He finished fifth on the team in tackles.
Sixth NFL season
Acquired: Free Agent, 2003
Brackett, who joined the Colts as a collegiate free agent in 2003, will enter his fourth season as the team's starting middle linebacker next season. . . . He served as the Colts' defensive captain the past two seasons. . . . He had a career-high and team-leading 149 tackles, including 79 solos, and also had a half a sack, two pressures, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, six passes defensed and four interceptions. . . . His passes defensed and interception totals marked seasonal career-bests.
Third NFL season
Acquired: Fifth Round, 2005
After spending the 2005 season on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a shernia injury, he played in nine games as a special teams player in 2006, then emerged as a starter last season. . . . He started seven of 12 games last season, finishing with 60 tackles, including 34 solos, and one sack, a pressure, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. . . . He also had nine special teams tackles.
Second NFL season
Acquired: Fourth Round, 2007
A second-year player who started one of 13 games at outside linebacker last season, he played as a reserve and special teamer in the remaining games. . . . He finished the season with 23 tackles, including 16 solos, and also had a forced fumble, two interceptions and 10 special teams tackles.
Second NFL season