Colts Linebacker Clint Session Looking for "Drastic Strides" This Season
INDIANAPOLIS – Without question, Clint Session said there's work to do.
Session, a linebacker entering his fourth season with the Colts, said that's true of the defense and the team as a whole, and he said it's particularly true of himself.
The Colts have high goals, Session said recently. The defense does, too.
And as for Session, who emerged last season as one of the NFL's hardest-hitting, most-dynamic young outside linebackers in his first season starting at a new position, said the goals he has for himself are equally lofty. And equally attainable.
Because while Session said he believed he had a solid season in 2009, he said there's much more he can attain. And the time to attain it is at hand.
"With drastic strides, but there's drastic improvement necessary, too," Session said during the Colts' recent 2010 organized team activities, four weeks of on-field, team-oriented sessions that concluded June 11 at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Session (6-feet-0, 235 pounds) indeed made such strides last season.
And he did so after substantially changing his role the previous off-season.
Session, a fourth-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft from Pittsburgh, moved from the strong-side linebacker position – where he started in 2008 – to the weak-side in the 2009 off-season. He not only made the transition, he did so in big-time fashion, emerging as a playmaker on an improving defense.
He gave the Colts a big-play, game-turning presence at the position, starting 14 games and registering 104 tackles – 78 solo – and also had a half sack and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a game-turning touchdown in a victory at Houston.
"He's a very instinctive player, very fast, very athletic," Colts middle linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett said late last season of Session. "He will get after the guys on offense."
The previous season, Session had started 15 games at strong-side linebacker, finishing fourth on the team with 99 tackles – 70 solo – and also making four special teams tackles. He also had two passes defensed and forced three fumbles.
And while Session long has had a knack for the big play, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said he improved in the areas of reliability and consistency last season.
"He certainly developed into a more dependable player," Caldwell said. "He's becoming more consistent. I think you can see that happening on a daily basis. He's going to continue to develop, because he certainly can create the big play. He's got speed.
"He has power, and he certainly is a guy who can make things happen."
And while Session will enter his third season starting, for the first time next season he will enter an NFL season at a position at which he started the previous year. The Colts for the first time in more than half a decade could start the same three linebackers that started for them the previous season – Session, middle Brackett and strong-side backer Philip Wheeler.
"I think we're going to be better than last year," Session said. "We have more experience, and we've kind of gelled together. Now, we know what to expect from each other."
Session said in his case, he is anticipating an improvement with a year experience in his role. He said last off-season he was anticipating being able to make more plays and attack the ball more on the weak-side, and he did so last season.
Now, he said, he has a greater understanding of his position, an understanding he said should translate into a higher level of effectiveness.
"It's kind of like you have all the kinks out," Session said. "You played it, you excelled or you did pretty decent at it, so it's kind of like you progress, but you can't take a step backward because you already know the level that you're supposed to play at from what you previously did.
"Now, it's staying on top of my game and continuing to get better."
And Session said to make no mistake:
That goal? That objective of not staying the same and improving? That has driven him in his first three seasons as he developed from a special teams/backup player to a player who made big plays at critical times for the AFC Champions, and Session said he plans for it to continue to drive him to a level at which he hasn't yet ascended.
"I have high expectations of my team and definitely myself," he said. "I eventually want to be mentioned as a Pro Bowler and that kind of stuff, and I want my team to be in the Super Bowl.
"That's going to cause me to improve even more."
But Session said as focused as he is on individual improvement, the ultimate objective is performing as well as possible as a team, and he said if he took anything from the Colts' recent OTAs, it was the overall intensity on focus on the ultimate goal.
"Judging by the guys who were here to do all of the off-season workouts, we worked out with a purpose," Session said. "It wasn't, 'Oh, man, coach is trying to kill us.' We worked out with a purpose – to get better, to individually improve and to improve as a team.
"Guys have the right attitude and expectations are set. We played through bumps and bruises last year and we still got a chance to play in the Super Bowl. We have that chip on our shoulder knowing we can get there. We have to win it this time.
"It's too soon to be talking about that, but that's our goal. We can't accept anything less right now."