Colts CB-Jerraud Powers Spent Rookie Year Studying How to be a Better Player
INDIANAPOLIS – The speed is everything, and not how a lot of players see speed.
Jerraud Powers, a second-year cornerback for the Colts, said that was the thing he noticed last season in a rookie season during which he established himself as a solid starter – that in the NFL, things move very, very fast.
But Powers said he didn't mean on the field, necessarily.
Because if you talk to pretty much any NFL rookie, the first thing most will tell you is how dramatically different the speed of the NFL is compared to college. Powers said what he meant was something else. What the 2008 third-round NFL Draft selection from Auburn University said he meant was the speed of expectations, of learning.
"It's sort of like in school – you've got the, 'No child left behind?' Powers said recently.
Well, Powers said in the NFL it's the same . . . only different.
"Here, you've got to keep up with everything," Powers said. "They're not going to slow down and try to make sure you get it. You've got to be on your Ps and Qs day in and day out."
Powers was very much up with everything as a rookie.
And that was true immediately.
When Colts coaches and personnel officials spoke of Powers during his rookie season, they spoke of his ability, which enabled him to move quickly into the cornerback rotation and just as quickly into the starting lineup, where he spent 12 of 16 games as a rookie.
But they also talked of Powers' approach.
Powers, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said on numerous occasions during the season, arrived with the Colts shortly after the draft as if he already belonged. He was matured beyond his years.
That maturity showed on the field.
"What can you say about Jerraud Powers?" Colts President Bill Polian asked in early November. "No one writes about him. No one talks about him. None of the national pundits and gurus even knows his name, but he ought to be the Rookie of the Year.
"There's no rookie corner who has played better than Jerraud Powers, and he won't even make the All-Rookie Team, I'm sure, because they only go by statistics."
Powers intercepted one pass in the regular season and had nine pass breakups, also adding 71 tackles. He also had an interception in the Colts' 20-3 Divisional Playoff victory over the Baltimore Ravens at Lucas Oil Stadium.
He missed the AFC Championship Game with a foot injury and returned for the Super Bowl, but Powers said what he mostly gained from his rookie season was experience, and knowledge – namely, the knowledge that in the NFL, nothing is guaranteed except that hard work is necessary.
"Every day, you're fighting to keep your job, because other people are fighting to get a job," Powers said.
Powers said he also learned the lesson that many NFL rookies learn in their first season, that the way they approached their careers in college was fine, but likely won't work long-term professionally.
"I'm going to have to make sure I take care of my body way better than I ever have," he said. "I have to stay focused. I have to take the approach with a serious approach, that this is a business – a real job. You can't just rely on your athletic ability."
And while Powers said he approached the game professionally, he said there's another level necessary for long-term professional success.
"I can do a lot of things better than what I do," Powers said. "There's another step I can take. I do a decent job, but after seeing how (Colts quarterback) Peyton (Manning) prepares, after seeing how (Colts tight end) Dallas (Clark) prepares, how (wide receiver) Reggie (Wayne) and (safety) Antoine (Bethea) prepares . . . after seeing how all of those guys prepare, I know I can step my game up a lot more.
"They're in a great position. They've established themselves. I want to get to that level."
Powers said that process – watching veteran players, particularly well-established, successful veterans – was a big part of his rookie season.
"I think all of the rookies, once we got here, watched and observed," he said. "We listened. We see everything. We see how Peyton prepares week in and week out. I see how (Pro Bowl safety) Antoine (Bethea) prepares. You sort of apply different things that they do and mix it with your own thing and try to help you be a better player.
"I observed everything this year about everybody."
And while Powers said late in the season there was only one focus – the Super Bowl – he said with the Colts also believing players take huge jumps between their rookie and second seasons that the upcoming off-season is an imant time.
"It's going to be big for me," he said. "Having a good first year – I think I can be so much better than what I was last year after knowing what I learned my first year. I think next year I'm going to set my goals higher than I did coming into this year.
"I came in wanting to earn respect and wanting to be accountable to my teammates and let the coaches know I can be depended on. Next year, I'm going to set my goals even higher. I want to achieve those goals, and the off-season will be a key part of how I train and how I prepare and how I come into camp.
"I'm going to be ready for another year."