By the time Dallis Flowers got the start at cornerback Week 18 of the 2022 season against the Houston Texans, he had already gone through his fair share of adversity.
From playing at four different colleges, going undrafted and not seeing defensive snaps until the final month of the season, Flowers had never allowed his confidence to waver.
"When we put him in there, there was no hesitation on his part," Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. "He always felt like, 'Shoot, why did it take so long? I should have been out here.' He's kind of got that mentality."
Now seven months since that game, Flowers' belief in himself has only gotten stronger as he has maintained his spot atop the depth chart throughout training camp and the preseason.
"Growing up, I always had confidence," Flowers said. "I had to, definitely at my position playing cornerback. My teammates like Kenny Moore II, Julian Blackmon, Rodney Thomas II, Shaq [Leonard], Speed - just helped me gain more confidence showing and telling me that they do trust me, that I am a good player and that I do belong here. They helped me as well (and Gus Bradley and Milo [defensive backs coach Ron Milus]). They know what I'm capable of and I know what I'm capable of. All of those things together have helped me to be more confident."
However, none of this would have been possible had he not earned the trust of his teammates and coaches.
"So, I think his athleticism, his length and size were always there," Bradley said. "But it was, can we trust you play in and play out? Mlio has done a great job, Mike Mitchell [assistant defensive backs coach] and a guy like Gilly [Stephon Gilmore] took ownership on him too. So, I think as it got into the season, he started to play with more confidence, he played with trust from his teammates and it took time for that to come across."
Flowers has learned not to take their faith in him for granted, especially since he has had to work so hard to get it.
This time last year, Flowers felt like he had a chance to make the final roster, but with other cornerbacks ahead of him on the depth chart like Stephon Gilmore, Kenny Moore II and Brandon Facyson, he knew that there were no guarantees.
"I felt like I made the team, but I definitely had a thought in the back of my head like, 'What if?'" Flowers said. "Like our coach says, 'Control what you can control.' So, I was trying not to overthink those things because I can't control that."
Though this year his circumstances are very different, that does not mean that Flowers thinks that he can get comfortable now.
"I still feel like I'm coming in as that same undrafted free agent rookie last year," Flowers said. "I wanna showcase and demonstrate that I am - that I do belong at this level at corner as well as special teams. [I want to show] that I am an overall good player, that I'm still learning and I am still getting better."