ANDERSON –No man is an island, but sometimes a player must play on one.
Such is the nature of a cornerback and such is the task of Justin King as he tries to win a spot in the Indianapolis secondary.
King, a fifth-year pro who played previously with St. Louis, is one of 11 cornerbacks on the club's roster in training camp at Anderson University. One cornerback spot, the right side, is manned by Jerraud Powers.
The left side had three different starters last year, and the most frequent 2011 starter, Jacob Lacey, now is with Detroit.
King signed with the Colts in early June, and now he is trying to win a starting spot in early August. This is the time of year King thinks is right for players trying to gain a foothold.
"I think there's always a job to win when you report to camp," said King. "If you don't feel that way, I don't feel you should be here. We're all competitors. We've all been talented players growing up. When you report to camp, you're here to try to win a job. That's what I'm trying to do."
King opened 19 of 35 games for the Rams after being a fourth-round pick in 2008. He opened seven of 15 games in 2009, while starting 12 times last year. King has been working a good period of the time in camp so far with the starters, and he believes experience is an aid in his efforts.
"I think it helps a lot. There are a lot of young guys here who are still getting their feet wet in the NFL," said King. "There's a new scheme here and everything like that, but a lot of stuff is pretty similar to what I ran in St. Louis. I think the experience helps me a lot, just the speed of the game. The concepts (of the defense) are similar, the terminology (here) is a little different, but it's all pretty similar."
King joined the club just prior to the mandatory mini-camp that ran in mid-June. He was not around for the Organized Team Activities, thus he still is learning his teammates.
Playing in a role where a player must have a gambling nature and a short memory, he believes the other cornerbacks in camp understand this is a time of competition.
"I think everybody expects that. I think everybody knows the bottom line is always the competition," said King. "You can't let that interfere with being a good person. I can share things I see. I'm always willing to help or willing to give a point from a veteran who taught me.
"We're just competing. Coaches are making the decisions. I'm just trying to compete and have fun, play ball."
Safety Antoine Bethea feels the unit is learning each other and that communication and other necessities are coming along.
"There's no concern," said Bethea about the gelling of the unit. "Those guys are out there competing. Whoever it is come game time, they'll be fine. We're just going out there and making it happen."
Safety Tom Zbikowski is a Colts newcomer like King, too, and Zbikowski remembers King's play from college days when Notre Dame met Penn State.
"He is good, just his technique and the way he's playing," said Zbikowski. "I remember him at Penn State, too, so it wasn't too big of a surprise. You still don't know until you see someone up close every, single day and see how they work. I remember hearing his name when we played Penn State.
"It's definitely positive having him in the swing of things with us. Top-to-bottom, we keep getting better every time someone of that caliber comes on the team."
As for King, he will keep on trucking and learning.
"Most of it is terminology, but football is concepts. Once you understand the concepts of what the defense is trying to accomplish, it makes it a lot easier to do your job," said King. "These are actually my first practices with the team. I'm still getting my feet settled. I'm getting football back into me. It's good. These couple of practices have been good. Every day I can feel myself getting better. I want to keep progressing.
"Every day, I try to gain more. (I try) communicating with (Tom) Zbikowski and other players. They had OTAs and I came at the end, but it's going well."
As he leans on teammates, King also has another source of guidance.
"Football is not (life). I enjoy it, I have fun," said King. "I try to build on the things the coaches try to instill in us, learn the playbook and come out and give it all I've got. (I'll let) the chips fall where they may.
"The first thing is to keep God first and keep everything in perspective. (My favorite Bible verse) may be Philippians 4:13 ('I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.'). I don't know if that's my best. I have about 12 (verses) I go to. I would have to go back to the drawing board to get my favorite."