JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JuJu Brents took a breath and digested what earning his first career interception – a diving pick of a Trevor Lawrence pass on Sunday at EverBank Stadium – meant to him.
Brents, the second-round NFL Draft pick and Indianapolis native playing for his boyhood team, oscillated between appreciating the moment and acknowledging the disappointment at the larger context of Sunday: A 37-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who swept the season series with the Colts.
"It was cool. I would've rather had the outcome of a win," Brents said. "But yeah, it was pretty good to get my first interception."
He paused again, then said, trailing off: "That was a tough one."
It's not easy to celebrate personal accomplishments when the team falls short of its goal. But Brents, who physically battled with Jaguars receivers all afternoon, grinned when he was asked about another rookie first on Sunday.
A few plays before Brents had that interception, Josh Downs caught his first career touchdown. Downs, the third-round pick from North Carolina, sold an inside release before beating Jaguars cornerback Montaric Brown to the pylon on fourth-and-goal for a two-yard score. Head coach Shane Steichen after the game praised the detail in Downs' route, noting how hard he worked on it in practice leading up to Sunday. And teammates – Brents included – have noticed that consistence work ethic from Downs.
"Proud of my dog, man," Brents said. "I see the way he works every single day, and that's a testament to the work he puts in on a daily basis. Proud of him and continue to make a lot more experiences like that."
Downs has roundly impressed his coaches and teammates to begin his rookie season; he had five catches for 21 yards against Jacksonville, bringing his season totals to 28 catches, 276 yards and now one touchdown.
"It would say it's kind of a blessing but also kind of a sigh of relief just getting that first one out of the way," Downs said. "Time to play the rest of the year, try to get many more."
The two rookies sparked something in the second half, even though the Colts' comeback fell short. When the Colts drafted Brents No. 42 overall and Downs No. 79 overall in the spring, they envisioned both as immediate contributors – with Brents' physicality and length translating to Gus Bradley's defense, and Downs' quickness and natural feel for getting open an asset to Steichen's offense.
Going forward, the Colts are confident Brents' interception and Downs' touchdown were the first of many.
"That was nice. JuJu's my dog," Downs said. "I was happy when he got that. I was kinda shocked — two in a day."