Former CFL Defensive Player of the Year John Chick Says He Has Much to Learn With the Colts
INDIANAPOLIS – He's more prepared now. Far more prepared.
John Chick said he's more confident, too.
And although Chick, a defensive end for the Colts, said he knows preparation and confidence guarantee nothing for him during the next few weeks and months, he said he likes his professional situation far more than he liked his initial opunity.
He has experience. And he believed he'll get a fair chance.
And Chick said right now, that's all he can ask.
"I'm confident and I'm just going to try to continue to improve," Chick said during the Colts' recent 2010 organized team activities, four days of on-field, team-oriented activities that concluded June 11 at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Part of that confidence came from maturing, he said.
And he said a whole lot came from what he has done in recent seasons.
Chick (6-feet-4, 250 pounds), who played collegiately at Utah State, originally signed with the Houston Texans as a free agent following the 2006 NFL Draft. He spent training camp with the Texans and was released in August of that year.
He then played with the Saskatchewan RoughRiders of the Canadian Football League from 2007-09, and it was there Chick said he made solid strides.
Chick, who had 23.5 sacks and 39.5 tackles for losses at Utah State, developed into one of the CFL's top defenders in three seasons, finishing that period with 68 tackles, 19 sacks and six forced fumbles.
In 2009, he was named the CFL's Defensive Player of the Year.
He then signed with the Colts in early January, becoming the latest in a line of CFL players such as kicker Mike Vanderjagt and running back Kenton Keith who have signed with Indianapolis from the league.
The Colts, Head Coach Jim Caldwell said, liked what they saw in Chick.
How Chick will contribute remains to be seen, Caldwell said.
"We're just kind of getting an opportunity to get a good feel for him," Caldwell said during OTAs. "Obviously, he has ability. He is a guy that runs fast. He is a hard-nosed guy that has length and athleticism. We're excited about seeing what he can do. This whole process is a great time to assess.
"I think we'll get a better feel for him as time goes on, but he looks like he has ability."
Chick said the idea now is to turn that ability into production, and he said the experience gained from the previous few seasons in Canada is a reason he has more confidence that can happen. While the CFL may not be on the level of the NFL, he said it still professional football and therefore an opportunity to improve.
"Any experience you can get at the next level is great," Chick said. "I've been having a blast up there, just doing what I love, hoping to improve and get to this level."
Since joining the Colts, he said the learning has continued, but in a different way. Rather than learning on the field, he said he learned this off-season in the film room not watching himself as much as watching Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, the Colts' starting defensive ends.
Freeney, the Colts' all-time sacks leader, has made five Pro Bowls, including each of the last two. Mathis, second to Freeney on the team's all-time sacks list, also has made the last two Pro Bowls.
"I've learned a lot," he said. "I definitely have the two best in the league to watch."
Experience, Chick said, has helped in that area, too – not only knowing what players to watch, but knowing enough about his own game to know how to watch with an eye on improving.
"When I came out the first time and I was a rookie, I felt like I didn't know anything," Chick said. "So it's helped tremendously – just experience alone.
"You go from playing 10-11 games a year (in college) to, if you're on a decent team, you're playing 22-23 games a year," Chick said. "And that's at a pro level. It's just guys who for whatever reason – whether they're Canadian or they just didn't catch a break – they're not in the NFL and they're playing up there. There's some great football and it's helped me tremendously.
"I'm confident and I'm just going to try to continue to improve, I've got some key guys in front of me I can watch and learn and take a lot from."
Chick said he believes he will be helped, too, by the environment around the Colts. Long one of the winningest organizations in the NFL, Chick said it was evident quickly why the Colts have been successful. He said the professionalism and focus he saw daily in the off-season should benefit him next season.
"There are definitely differences – the organization for one," Chick said. "There are differences in spring, but we're still not in a game situation. I'm sure once I take that in, that will be a learning process, too.
"That's what's awesome about the OTAs, it's a chance to learn."