INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle, defensive end Justin Houston and cornerback Xavier Rhodes talked to local reporters today via video conference. What did Doyle have to say about the Colts' talented group of undrafted tight ends? How did Houston describe his pass-rushing technique? Why does Rhodes believe his history with Odell Beckham Jr. will stay in the past? Here's the latest edition of "Colts Chatter."
Tight end Jack Doyle
» The Colts' tight ends take pride in all being undrafted: It may be hard to believe now, but neither Doyle, Trey Burton nor Mo Alie-Cox were picked up by any of the league's 32 teams over the course of the seven rounds of their respective NFL Draft years. Instead, all three have had to carve out their careers going the undrafted route, where oftentimes you have to make a name for yourself on special teams and then in a smaller role on offense before you earn a larger role in the gameplan.
Doyle, who entered the league in 2013, has turned his opportunity into two Pro Bowl selections; Burton is a terrific all-around tight end who is known for his precise route-running skills; and Alie-Cox is one of the breakout players at the tight end position across the entire NFL landscape so far this season.
Doyle said the three of them bonded over their undrafted status a few weeks back. (Noah Togiai, the fourth tight end on the Colts' active roster, is also undrafted, but was claimed off waivers by the team just before Week 1.)
"Yeah, definitely. It was in training camp. Probably one of the first meetings that we all had in person, I remember it getting brought up," Doyle said when asked if he remembered that conversation. "Yeah the old saying, it's a chip on your shoulder or whatever you want to say. The thing that I love about our group is that we all do it together and we all have close relationships and we have a ton of fun out there. I think the undrafted thing is just another element to making up our room."
Defensive end Justin Houston
» Houston shared a little bit of insight into how he approaches pass rushing on a weekly basis: The veteran Houston has been one of the NFL's top pass rushers since entering the league in 2011 with the Kansas City Chiefs; in fact, his 93.0 sacks ranks sixth among all active players.
Houston showed last season, his first with the Colts, that he still has plenty left in the tank, as he notched 11 sacks, his first double-digit sack performance since his historic 22-sack campaign with the Chiefs in 2014.
Houston's second year in Indy has started off just as well; he has a team-leading 3.5 sacks on the year through four games, and a couple weeks back forced his third-career safety, taking down the New York Jets' Sam Darnold in the end zone late in the Colts' Week 3 victory.
Houston's approach to pass rushing isn't too complicated, he said today. While he studies film on each blocker he's about to go up against, he's always found success with simply throwing his fastball in most instances.
"I don't think it's much of a difference but as far as my aiming point may have changed just a little bit," Houston said. "I just play with it as the game goes on and see what works and what doesn't."
And while Houston has had at least a half-sack in each of the Colts' four games this year, he believes in starting over each week and not thinking "momentum" itself will earn him anything.
"Every week is a new opponent, so you just have to restart every week," Houston said. "Every tackle you go against isn't the same, so you have to make adjustments week in and week out to continue to put pressure on the quarterback."
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes
» Rhodes has a noted history against Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but he doesn't see that being a problem on Sunday in Cleveland: Rhodes started grinning as soon as he was asked about the Colts' upcoming Week 5 matchup on the road against the Browns, because he knew what was coming.
It was 2016 when Rhodes' Minnesota Vikings took on Beckham Jr.'s New York Giants in a matchup that can only be described as epic — at least from Rhodes' perspective. Beckham Jr. was targeted nine times that night, but Rhodes limited the star receiver to three receptions for 23 yards.
Also in that game, Beckham Jr. drew a personal foul penalty after expressing his displeasure to being hit by Rhodes along the sideline.
Rhodes will undoubtedly be in coverage against Beckham Jr. at times throughout Sunday's game, but the now-Colts cornerback says his past with the receiver is water under the bridge, at least to him.
"Odell's a great receiver, man, one of the top five receivers in the league," Rhodes said. "With him, you've just got to be mentally prepared, because it's going to be not only a mental battle, it's going to be a physical battle."
Rhodes said it's important to acknowledge Beckham Jr.'s skills both as a receiver and as a talker, and to remember to just stay focused on the task at hand.
"He can jaw and get in your ear and try to get in your head," Rhodes said. "You've got to be mentally strong, and you've got to be physically strong, too, because he's going to try to be physical with you at the line and down the field.
"You can't let yourself get affected by the emotion," Rhodes continued. "Once you get overhyped or you get too emotional, you lose focus on the game. You lose everything. You lose sight of the game. You're not focused at all on your assignment."