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Indianapolis Colts

Colts Should Maintain Inner Focus

With the 2014 draft concluded and a number of collegiate free agents added, focus for the Colts returns to preparing for the season. The Colts have won 23-of-34 games over the last two years by keeping perspective and working, an approach that defines the culture despite noisy attention that follows the NFL.





INDIANAPOLIS – If coaches and players listened to voices outside the building in 2012, perhaps they would have focused more on prognostications of doom rather than sharpening skills that led to an 11-5 season.

Pundits now are forecasting a less-than-stellar haul in the 2014 draft, one where the Colts took two offensive linemen, a receiver, an inside linebacker and an edge lineman/linebacker. 

Opinions can be sharp in what Ryan Grigson earlier this year called a "microwave society" surrounding the league where analysts open the door even before a meal is cooked because of a need to evaluate things right now.

Barbs came over the weekend because of a first-round pick spent last year on Trent Richardson.  Because running backs have not occupied prominent draft slots in recent drafts, some still are hounding the move.

It is one that fits here because of the club's desire to have a power running game to complement the wondrous ability of Andrew Luck. 

Richardson is immersed in his first off-season with the club and will be a much different performer in 2014. 

He estimated recently that he had learned more conceptually in the first week of the off-season than he was able to in being thrust into play with four days preparation last September. 

That accelerated introduction affected a large part of Richardson's season, and external opinions formed along the way led to conjecture heard in the draft and its aftermath.

Richardson is sure to have his role in a 1-2-3 punch that includes Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw and whose blueprint was evident in week three's 20-point win at San Francisco last year.

Draft criticisms also come because the departure of Antoine Bethea has not been addressed to this point with a high-profile addition.

Grigson and Chuck Pagano have looked at every free agency and draft avenue, something they will continue to do there and at other positions.

"Everyone on the outside I don't think can really understand how this all works because (they) don't see the board and don't watch all the film and see who's there (and) who isn't," said Grigson.  "If there's not the players that you feel are good enough to pick, you can't pick them.

"If you have guys that are on the roster that are maybe even just a little bit better or maybe those guys that you're looking at possibly drafting are almost the same as the guys you have on your roster, it doesn't really make you any better.  It just didn't happen.  It was not a deep safety class."

Pagano was the instigator in 2012 who printed up shirts and handed them to players emblazoned with the prediction of being the 32nd-ranked team in the league based on the evaluation of a major news organization.

To the degree it was a rallying cry, who knows?  But it was more than just a free shirt. 

What he imparted beyond that was a belief in the program, the culture, the work ethic and the "playing for one another" mode that has flourished under the regime's command.

Grigson and Pagano have combined to participate in 30 drafts.  Each one has had its own flavor. 

Two years ago, the team had the top picks in virtually every round.  Last year, it was a little lower and this year, the team had five choices – tying the fewest it has had in a draft in 31 years.

What matters little is the outside opinion.  What matters most is how players work as they arrive and how they mesh with veterans who are willing to help as they were helped.

"I'm going to be his little brother, said fifth-round pick DE-Jonathan Newsome, of Robert Mathis, an unknown Colts pick in the same round in 2003.  "He doesn't know it yet but I'm going to be like his little brother around there.  I can't wait to learn from him.  Why not learn from the best?"

The Colts have prospered by asking 'Why not?' in the face of on-lookers asking, 'Why?'  Grigson and Pagano have imported talent to fit the defensive scheme. 

Pagano specifically has cut his NFL teeth with strong secondary play.  He feels there is talent on hand to aid LaRon Landry at safety. 

Maybe the next "known" Colt already is here.  It is a matter of opportunity and being part of an 11-man unit that performs from the same hymnal.

"I feel good about the guys that are here," said Pagano Saturday.  "We bolstered our front seven with acquiring D'Qwell (Jackson) and Art Jones and the two defensive players we picked up today. The better that front seven is, the more pressure you can put on the passer, it certainly helps the back end.  We'll be fine."

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