INDIANAPOLIS –When the Colts' 53-man roster was determined last week, one of the most noteworthy decisions was the club selecting Matt Overton to be the long-snapper.
Overton was signed by Indianapolis during the spring, and his job was to compete alongside veteran long-snapping ace Justin Snow.
Snow had served in the capacity with the Colts since 2000. Both Snow and Overton came to the club through the free agency route, but Overton's road was a little lengthier.
Overton played at Western Washington before coursing his way through some minor leagues on his way to Indianapolis. It was a dream that started during college.
"I felt I had an opportunity my senior year in college. I went to a small Division II school, Western Washington," said Overton. "Fortunately, I had a kicker and punter, Michael Koenen, who was picked up when he came out. He's now the punter for Tampa Bay. He kind of paved the path for me a little bit. I got some exposure through him. I knew there was a possibility.
"Coming from a small school, it's difficult to get your name out there, get the name recognition and get the exposure you need. It's been a long path for me to reach Indianapolis. I spent some time in the UFL and the A2 and Arena Football to prepare myself for the opportunity and get the exposure I needed. It definitely paid off. The hard work continues for sure."
After snapping in college, Overton had a brief chance with Seattle prior to the 2007 season. He was waived and took his act on the road. Overton played with the Tri-Cities Fever of the af2 league in 2008. His team won four games and finished in fifth-place.
The 2009 season found Overton with the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League. His team went 6-0 and reached the league title game.
Overton had another tryout with Seattle in 2010, but was released prior to the season, so he returned to the UFL and played with the Omaha Nighthawks.
In joining Indianapolis and winning the position, Overton was glad to see his dedication rewarded.
"It's a dream come true. I've been working very hard since April and in training camp," said Overton. "It's been awesome competing against one of the best in the league in Justin Snow. He's been a great mentor for me. He really took me under his wing and helped me along, so have Pat McAfee and Adam Vinatieri.
"I'm really looking forward to helping this team win and helping stabilize the special teams, helping it be one of the best in the league. I want to maintain the standard Justin left here as the long-snapper. I'm really excited."
When the final cuts were made and Snow's name appeared with the list of 21 other transactions, Head Coach Chuck Pagano was quick to praise Snow for how he had worked with Overton. Pagano said no one more than Snow had spent time with Overton. Overton greatly appreciated the professionalism showed by Snow.
"Absolutely, he did," said Overton of Snow spending a great deal of time with him in instruction. "A lot of times in this position, unless you have done it, it's really tough to coach. I've never really been coached either in my career. It's something you just kind of pick up and you're kind of self-taught as you go along.
"Certainly the coaches (here) have helped me, no doubt about that. To have someone like Justin who has done it at such a high level for such a long time, having him coach me and teach me the things he learned over his career, it's been nothing but super beneficial."
Overton started snapping while in high school, but he claims it was around college time he really started devoting a great deal of attention to it because it could lead to a scholarship and possibly something beyond it.
Now, he is preparing for joining Indianapolis in battle against Chicago in the opener on Sunday. It will be a time of nerves for the newcomer.
"Oh, yeah, I always get nervous before any type of game," said Overton. "I'm excited to get out there and having the NFL opener at Chicago is going to be great. I'm just looking forward to it."
COLTS FRIDAY NOTEBOOK (QUOTE-UNQUOTE): Chuck Pagano(on if there is advantage because teams don't have tape to view on Colts) "We still think so. There's a lot of stuff (opponents can do). They can go back at Bruce's (Arians) history, Greg's (Manusky) history, my history, Marwan (Maalouf), whatever and go do their research on places we've been and schemes that those guys have been associated (with), what they've run. I still think there's still a competitive edge there." Pagano(on what a coach would do to pressure a rookie QB) "I think going in you'd like to say, 'Okay, (let's) try to make him work. Make him execute.' See how far along he is in his learning curve, so to speak. They have enough on tape to where they have to make that decision as far as looking at Andrew and where he's at compared to most rookies. I think generally speaking you could say, 'Okay, look we have us a rookie quarterback this week. Let's get after him.' Some teams, that's their MO. Some teams, that's not their MO. They choose to rush with four guys, that's fine. If they want to bring everybody, we'll be prepared for it." Pagano(on if there is a need for Pagano to manage expectations of Luck) "We've talked as a staff. You talk offense, defense and special teams about how you'll manage a game as a whole. You talk about certain expectations for different guys. The kid (Luck) expects a lot from himself. He would be the first one to tell you he expects high standards. Obviously, he expects to play well. He knows his teammates are expecting him to do that. He also understands that there are going to be mistakes, just like any other position out there. He's no different than some of the other guys who are here. We have a ton of youth out there who are going to make mistakes. Just make them full speed, go onto the next play and forget it." Pagano(on what is the steepest part of the learning curve for a rookie QB) "I think it's a little bit of everything. Mostly, probably, once you get to third down, depending on what they do as far as a multitude of different personnel groups, blitz packages, four-down, 3-2 looks, all the exotics that you potentially can get. It kind of depends on who you are playing. I would say it's probably more identification of people, getting your protections set, re-identifying, doing those type of things, pointing out hots (hot reads), and sights (sight reads) and all those things that make an offense go." Pagano(on whether he has considered flipping the corners to establish certain matchups) "We haven't totally discounted that option just yet. If Vontae (Davis) had been here for a longer period of time and felt really, really good about the…he's in a good spot right now as far as understanding the game plan and what we're going to ask of him this game. He knows playing with Brandon (Marshall) down in Miami, he obviously knows him as well or better than anybody in the back end. Your gut tells you, 'Hey look, we ought to just match this guy up.' But there's a lot that goes into that. You're chasing a guy around. He lines up over here, because they're going to play him over here, and over here; and he's spending time just finding out where (Marshall) is and getting lined up, and then trying to figure out what's the call. We haven't totally thrown that out, but we're going to try to make it as player-friendly as possible so he can be successful." Pagano(on whether Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are where they need to be right now) "Yes and no. I think they're as close to being where we want them to be as could be expected throwing this new scheme at them. Again, they've done everything within their power to get the terminology down, the techniques down. Like everybody else, there will be some things that will show up come Monday when we look at the tape that we'll have to come in and correct, but I feel good about both those guys and where they're at." Pagano(on if there is a theme for the week) "All we're doing is thinking about us and how we'll get better. What I just left them with is I'm not worried about our opponent right now. All I'm worried about is us – how much film we can watch, how much rest we can get, how much treatment we can get, how much time I can spend in my Ipad, how much film I can watch. All those kinds of things. That's all I'm worried about, our own guys, the health of our football team. Moving forward, that's really our theme – how much Chicago stuff can we digest in the next 24 hours. (We) have tomorrow off, and they have to be smart in what they do in their own time. We still have to come in and watch film and get ready for Wednesday's practice … I've said it before, the enemy is really in our own camp. It's never your opponent. As long as we don't beat ourselves, we'll give ourselves a chance to compete and win." Pagano(on whether they use being the underdog as motivation) "I love where we sit. For a long time, they've (the Colts) been, I guess the huntee if you will, around here. I love where we're sitting. Our players love where we're sitting. Use it as motivation. I guess you can say we have and we've talked about it. These guys have got something to prove. Ever since this makeover, this extreme makeover has taken place, if you want to call it that, nobody has given us a chance. Power rankings had us at 32. Somebody else wrote that we would be 1-15. You can just go on down the line. We use it as motivation. I know they are. I know our coaching staff is. We've all got something to prove." Andrew Luck(on what makes him think he is ready) "Having the preseason games and sort of getting back there and feeling live (action) and standing in the pocket. Going through that was helpful. (I'm) trying to think about comparing it to a freshman year in college where you don't get to scrimmage anybody else, you don't get to play anybody else. I'll take these next couple of practices very seriously. I think that will help prepare, and hopefully I'll be ready to go." Luck(on if he thinks there will be a few lumps and things to experience before moving on to next step) "I hope we don't have to. I hope I don't have to take those lumps, but I think it's part of growing up. Part of being a rookie is, I guess, coming up to situations that you haven't seen before. I think I have great guys to rely on all around this locker room. I'll try and get to the basics when things like that happen and just run the offense." Luck(on what is hardest part of the learning curve) "I think so far it's been just the breadth of protections, the different types of protections – dropback, play-action, the naked, the boots. We didn't have that many in college. Now, I'm saying, 'This is a man protection, this picks up this type of blitz. This is scat, this is a slide protection.' That's been sort of the biggest challenge." Luck(on if trying to establish himself as a leader on team) "I think, one, realize I am a rookie. I haven't proven myself in any game, or done anything. Until I do, I'm not going to assert my personality. I lean on Samson (Satele) and Reggie (Wayne) and the guys who have been around to sort of lead the offense. Obviously as the quarterback, you are going to assume some type of leadership role just by talking in the huddle and calling plays. I definitely defer to the older guys and lean on them." Dwight Freeney(on what people should expect from the defense) "They're going to see a very aggressive defense. It's going to be a little bit different than years past – Cover-2 shell, sit back, keep everything in front of you. We're going to be a little more dictating things this year. We're not going to be sitting back so much this year. We're going to be attacking." Freeney(on what is the steepest part of the learning curve) "For me, it's really just the sight line. It's seeing things from standing up, walking around. I've never had to do that before. I've been pretty much stationary, boom, hand on the ground. I see everything from low-to-high. Your vision from low-to-high is condensed. It's tunnel-vision. You see the tackle. You might see the quarterback. You might see a little bit of the formation. Standing up, you see everything. Seeing everything can get you in trouble. You're seeing things you probably shouldn't see. Like, 'What's that receiver doing over here?' All of the sudden you're looking and the ball is hiked. For me, it's definitely going to be an adjustment, but I'm ready for it." Adam Vinatieri(on his approach to playing in Chicago) "My plan is the same preparation-wise as always – get out there early, try to figure out the footing and the weather conditions and the wind as early as I can, have a good idea of what to expect. It can always change. It's always kind of a sliding pendulum, if you will, on preparation as far as that's concerned. The sooner I can get out there and try to figure it out, the better. I know it can be tricky there." Robert Mathis(on how comfortable he is) "I could be a little more comfortable. It's still a process. I'm eager to learn, eager to play." Mathis(on the basic instinct of playing defense) "Basically, (it's), 'See the ball, hit the guy with the ball.' That's pretty much what defense is. We just have to keep it simple and hone in on the fundamentals." Mathis(on how big the chip is on his shoulder) "We'll say it's more than a chip. It's a whole two-by-four wood block. We know what we got in this locker room. We know what we've been working hard towards all offseason. It's time to put it on the field." Cory Redding(on if he's curious to see how Andrew Luck will play on Sunday) "There is no doubt in my mind that this kid is everything that was wrote about him, talked about him, and said about him in the past months. I see him make unbelievable throws in practice, unbelievable line checks, getting the command of that huddle, taking that leadership role every single day with the guys. Seeing that from a young guy, a rookie like him, the sky's the limit. This kid is going to do great things, trust me, mark my words. This kid is going to do great things for us. I'm just excited to see him play, the whole four quarters and go out there and put a complete game together."