INDIANAPOLIS — As a rookie last season, Clayton Geathers certainly showed flashes of his playmaking abilities at the safety position, as he made the most of his limited opportunities with the defense (31 tackles), as well as with the special teams units (eight special teams tackles).
With a starting spot open at free safety going into the 2016 season, the assumption was the 2015 fourth-round pick out of Central Florida would be the ideal guy to slide right in for head coach Chuck Pagano and the Colts defense.
But a nagging foot injury forced Geathers to miss all of training camp and the preseason, as well as the Colts' Week 1 matchup against the Detroit Lions.
Finally ready to go Week 2 against the Denver Broncos, Geathers got the start at free safety, and he's been locked in ever since, becoming one of the team's most consistent playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.
Despite missing a game, Geathers is tied for fifth on the team with 14 total tackles, and he also has a tackle for loss, a pass defensed and a forced fumble so far on the year.
"Clayton Geathers, it sure is good to have him back," Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino said. "He makes plays all over the place."
Last season, Geathers was somewhat of a swiss army knife for the Colts' defensive and special teams units. As a rookie, he was more than happy to play whatever role the team needed of him.
But that approach hasn't changed now that Geathers is in his second year and a starter for the Indianapolis defense.
In his three games so far this season, Geathers has seen his snaps for the defense increase from 31 Week 2 against the Broncos, to 39 Week 3 against the San Diego Chargers, to 71 snaps last Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London.
But Geathers has also played in seven total special teams snaps, and he has contributed a special teams tackle, as well.
"That was my mindset coming it, and that's still my mindset now," Geathers said. "Whatever the team, the coaches, my teammates ask me to do, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability."
Geathers' ball-hawking skills were on full display two weeks ago against the San Diego Chargers, when he forced a fumble on the Chargers' final full possession of the game, which was recovered by fellow safety Mike Adams, and clinched the team's first win of the season.
Pagano said he hopes to create even more opportunities for Geathers to continue doing it all for the Indy defense, whether it's in the secondary or up at the line of scrimmage.
"You have dime packages and opportunities for a guy like Clayton Geathers to get down in the box more whether it's first down, second down or third down, it doesn't matter," Pagano said Wednesday, after the team cut starting inside linebacker Sio Moore. "Those guys will prepare great and they will go out and play winning football."
For Geathers, he hopes to see the Colts continue to improve their defensive attack each and every week, no matter where he's lined up. While the unit has had some struggles the first four games of the season, Geathers remains optimistic that they will get things turned around.
"This defense could be great. This defense will be great. And I know that," Geathers said. "We have all the right pieces, and like I said, we've just got to keep playing, playing together, and win our matchups — win our share, get off the field. And that's what we've got to do."