Colts Turn To Starting Rookie Safety In T.J. Green

Intro: It will not be a slow introduction to the NFL for second-round pick T.J. Green. With expected starter Clayton Geathers still sidelined, Green is the expected starter next to Mike Adams in Week One of the regular season.

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INDIANAPOLIS – This time last year, T.J. Green had made one collegiate start at the safety position.

That start was Clemson's 2015 season opener against the Wofford Terriers.

It was the biggest knock on Green as he left school early last year.

Green had been a safety in college for just two years. He had been a starter for one season, albeit for the national runner-up.

Experience was lacking for Green.

Thus, the Colts kept Green away from the starting defense during the team's offseason program.

But when Clayton Geathers injured his foot early in July, the Colts had no choice other than to release Green into the starting 11.

Now, some 370 days after making his first college start at safety, another one is likely coming in the NFL.

"I don't think about it," Green swears, although him holding back a small grin is rather obvious.

"I always knew my talent and my abilities. I've always had supreme confidence in myself. I feel like I'm where I supposed to be. I'm just going to take this opportunity and run with it."

Even if Geathers was healthy to assume his starting role as a second-year safety, Green was still going to play some role as a rookie.

The Colts have wanted to improve their defensive speed, particularly on third down.

Green will now be bringing that on every down, until Geathers returns to full health and roles are reassigned.

"There's no doubt it's a tall order to come in with very little background at a position and be expected to jump right in without some bumps along the way," GM Ryan Grigson says of his second-round pick. "Everyone involved knows there is going to need to be some patience exercised and that's with any first-year player but in the end it's the best way. T.J. has made significant strides since he's gotten here. The coaches have all attested to that. His length, pure speed and overall athleticism are what separates him from most and we feel those rare traits are what can help him bridge the gap of inexperience moving forward in his development."

The between the ears aspect of Green's NFL growth is something that fellow safety Mike Adams has watched very closely.

Adams, who is entering his 13th NFL season, has now worked alongside Green throughout Training Camp and the preseason.

There was even a moment in August, where Adams had to do a double take when hearing Green take the director's role at the back end of the defense.

"When I make a mistake," Adams admits the rookie lined him up. "(Green) says, 'No, no, no, we got this.'

"Once I got on him because he didn't get me right. He said, 'Yeah, I knew that, but I didn't want to say nothing.' I said, 'What do you mean you didn't want to say nothing?'

"He's back there, he's talking more, he's getting involved more."

Vocal part aside, Green showed this preseason the range and tackling ability that had the Colts envisioning a high ceiling for their new safety.

Back in February at the NFL Combine, a safety in shorts was wowing scouts inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.

The full pads are coming now and things are about to get very real for T.J. Green in front of 60,000 plus.

It's the Lions of Detroit, not the Terriers of Wofford, waiting in Green's professional debut.

"This guy brings a physical presence to our defense and he has great length, great speed," Chuck Pagano says of Green. "We have to continue to work on his coverage stuff. He is excellent in and around the box, down close to the line of scrimmage. As a middle/post safety, a deep-half safety, he has great range, he has great ball skills and the game is not too big for him. He is playing faster than he did two weeks ago just because he is getting the stuff down and he's not doing a lot of thinking out there.

"As he progresses leading up to the (September) 11th, I have full confidence that T.J. is going to go out and play winning football for us."

A behind the scenes look at Green's 2016 photo shoot in the #ColtsPhotoGarage

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