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Indianapolis Colts

Colts Relying On Young Talent To Make Playoff Push

Intro: On Sunday against the Bengals, the Colts relied on several players with hardly any NFL experience. What did those guys think of playing such vital roles in the Colts postseason victory?


INDIANAPOLIS – One entered Training Camp in Anderson just hoping to find his name on the roster at the end of August. On Sunday, he carried the ball 11 times in a playoff victory (Zurlon Tipton).

One was inactive for the bulk of 2014. Now he's calling out blocking assignment for one of the league's top offenses (Khaled Holmes).

Another player just recently reached the legal drinking age. Against the Bengals, he was getting behind the Cincinnati secondary for a playoff touchdown (Donte Moncrief).

Over the course of a 16-game regular season that has now reached game No. 2 of the postseason, guys that might not have been household names in July are playing lead roles in January.

"It's big time because you're going to need, at this time of year with injuries and such, all hands on a deck," Chuck Pagano said of guys emerging.

"It was great to see everybody go out and play well, especially the young guys. It was a good, good experience."

Tipton, a 2014 undrafted rookie, was on the Colts practice squad until mid-November when Ahmad Bradshaw was placed on injured reserve.

He was then called up to the active roster, serving first as a special teams player before expanding into a backfield role later in the regular season.

In May, Tipton didn't hear his name called among the 256 draft picks. On Sunday, he was milking out the clock of the Colts playoff victory.

"Obviously it's the playoffs. The stakes are bigger," Tipton says of playing such a big role in the postseason. "Young guys, we just told each other go in and make a play. We've got a lot to prove, especially if they trust us enough to put us in a playoff game."

Back at Training Camp, Tipton's place on the depth chart was well past the first and second team.

Boom Herron was just a few spots higher than Tipton and here they are accounting for all of the Colts running back carries in the biggest game to date.

"This league is so crazy. You have to really stay on top of your game because the average life span at the running back position is 3.5 years," Herron says.

"It's one of those things where you want to get somewhere and do your best to stick on the team."

Guys like Tipton, Holmes, Moncrief, Jonathan Newsome and Jack Mewhort might lack postseason experience but that doesn't stop coaches from relying on them at this point of the year.

Attrition is unavoidable in the NFL and who can adapt best to those losses is often the team standing in the final game of the season.

For the Colts to be strapping it up on February 1, these young guys must play far beyond their youthful age in the next two weeks.

"You go through camp, you're going through hell," defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois begins on why he has trust in the young guys. "You're not sitting there, we're not trying to make friends with you, we're not trying to be great with you; we want you to come help our team. We did just that with all the young guys. We made them understand, 'We need you to help us because there's going to come that point in time, one of you guys has got to step up. When it's time to step up, it's nothing you're going to be talking about, I'm scared. No. You did this in camp. You're in the lights now, we're in the playoffs.'

"A lot of these guys, we tell them, 'You're blessed to be in the playoffs because there's been guys in the league who have been in the league for 13, 14 years and they've never seen the playoffs once except on TV. I told those guys, 'You've got to appreciate this. When that light shine on you and that call is given, go out there and have a ball, but at the same time execute your assignment.'"

The Colts are relying on young talent to make their playoff push!

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