INDIANAPOLIS —Physicality is necessary in every part of a linebacker's presence on the field. For the Indianapolis Colts' Matthew Adams, this has never been an issue.
"That's my game, to run and hit," Adams said. "That's why they brought me in here."
Those abilities have earned Adams a spot on the Colts' roster, but his primary role, at the moment, is to be a leader on special teams.
But Adams is not worried about his positioning on the defensive depth chart, or how many snaps he's getting. In fact, he's used to a challenge.
"I have been an underdog all my life so I'm comfortable in these situations," Adams said. "I am always ready to go hit somebody, and it doesn't matter where."
Adams is taking the chip on his shoulder and using it to help fuel the Colts talented kick and punt coverage units.
With a nucleus of young players filling out those spots, Adams understands that each week is about continuing to work on their craft and positively affecting the games as much as they can — whenever those opportunities may arise.
"We are learning our technique, getting better," Adams said. "We are matching up really well and we are just continuing to make improvements to make a difference on special teams."
The group has been tested early in the season, most notably when it traveled to New England in Week 5 and was down a number of key contributors as it faced a tough opponent in the Patriots.
It was a situation that called for Adams to make sure his guys were on the same page.
"We had to make sure everyone gets the calls to start off with, and know where they are lining up," Adams noted on the matchup on Oct. 4. "Basically we had to play penalty free, but we had guys that we knew would be able to win their matchup."
But Adams hasn't just been making sure his teammates are lined up correctly before the snap starts — he has also been leading the special teams by example. He currently leads the Colts in special teams tackles (six) through the first six weeks of the season, and he's a major reason why the team ranks third in the league in covering punts (5.0 average return yards allowed) and sixth in the NFL in covering kickoffs (19.6 yards per return allowed).
And while being at the forefront of the Colts' special teams units is certainly exciting, it is not the top of the mountain for the 2018 seventh-round pick out of Houston. Adams is looking to make an impact on the defense and is ready to jump in whenever his name is called.
Adams has had a few opportunities here and there at linebacker, playing 28 defensive snaps and logging four tackles to this point of his rookie season.
"Whenever they need me I am there," Adams said. "When someone goes down I am ready to go. If any of our guys go down I am the next guy up."
Adams is currently playing behind the likes of Colts breakout star Darius Leonard, who leads the NFL in tackles through the early season (62), and has also earned the nickname "Big Diesel" in the locker room for the amount of energy he brings to the field each day.
While Leonard has already earned accolades in his first season — he was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month for September — Adams does not hesitate to bring competition to the Colts' practice field on a daily basis to try to stay step-for-step with his fellow rookie linebacker.
"It's a dog fight at practice," Adams said. "He (Leonard) will go out and make a good play and then I will go out and make a good play. He knows he has to stay on his game every day."