Colts DB Kelvin Hayden Blog-October 2
I didn't get to play last week at Arizona, but one thing stood out to me: our 'Next Man Up' philosophy. It may sound cliché, but the 'Next Man Up' motto that we use, it's real. I can go back to my second year when we won the Super Bowl, I prepared that whole week as if I was going to play, because Nick Harper had an ankle injury and wasn't sure if he was going to play or not. So I just looked at it as my opportunity, and I wanted to make the most of it—and I did. And I think everybody else believes in it, too. When your number is called, you want to be as best prepared as you can. It's crazy how it works. Last week, Jacob Lacey was lined up against Larry Fitzgerald. The coaches know it can happen, and they tell us during the 16-week season, everyone will play and probably start at some time. It's the same thing they preach week in and week out, and then you see it on Sunday, that's when you know it's real.
Ever since I got here, the coaches have told us, 'The next guy up, we don't want to miss a bit, we're a well-oiled machine. It doesn't matter if you're the first guy of the 53 or the last guy of the 53, you will be needed.' They say that to the practice squad guys as well, because you can be down the whole week, and come Saturday, you might be active. I think that kind of motivates guys, and you want to take advantage of the opportunity. And they always seem to.
It all starts in training camp. The coaches do a great job of telling everybody, 'Hey, prepare like you're the starter, because you're only one play away from being out on the field.' The thing is, when the next guy comes up, you don't want the team to miss a beat or have to adjust to you. So from our secondary as a group to our offense and defense as a whole, it describes the character that we have. The guys we have want to compete, they want to get better, they want to do their job the best they can. I think the whole team does a great job of preparing. We believe in the 'Next Man Up,' and we believe in each other.