NO COMPLACENCY

Reserve safety Matt Giordano has accomplished plenty in three seasons since the Colts made him a fourth-round selection in the 2005 NFL Draft. But after starting four games last season, Giorando said he still feels as if he needs to further establish himself.

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After Three Seasons as Backup, Safety Giordano's Focus is Continued Improvement

INDIANAPOLIS - In three NFL seasons, Matt Giordano has accomplished plenty.

He has developed into a solid reserve safety for the Colts. He is one of the team's top special teams players. He likely could start for many NFL teams.

Those are significant accomplishments for a player selected in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft, particularly for a player on a team with two Pro Bowl selections at his position. And yet, for all Giordano has done in three NFL seasons, he sees things differently.

Very differently.

"I feel like I'm still a guy who needs to establish himself," Giordano said during the team's recent organized team activities, 14 days of onfield workouts at the team's training facility that ended in mid-June.

"I don't want to be one of those people who are complacent with where they're at. I want to continue to improve every season."

Which is what Giordano has done in each of his first three seasons.

Giordano, who played collegiately at the University of California-Berkeley, played as a reserve as a rookie in 2005, then started one game in 2006 before starting four of 12 games last season.

After finishing 2006 with one interception, he registered 21 tackles last season, also recording two interceptions, including one of which he returned for an 83-yard touchdown in a season-opening victory over New Orleans.

"Compared to my rookie year, I feel a lot more confidence, I feel I gained more confidence every year playing," Giordano said. "There are new situations every year that I encounter, that I've had to deal with. It has kind of been a new learning experience. Through those, they've made me a better football player. I have to attribute that to just hard work and getting to know the defense. Once the defense clicked to me, it was a lot easier just going out there and focusing on playing.

"Some might say I'm my toughest critic. I try to improve at everything I do. I try to really critique myself, work on my weaknesses, focus on those and make them into my strength."

And yet, despite that improvement, Giordano is a reserve.

The reason:

He plays for a team with two of the most talented safeties in the NFL.

Bob Sanders, a fifth-year veteran and a 2004 second-round draft selection, is not only a two-time Pro Bowl selection, he was a near unanimous selection as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year last season. Antoine Bethea, a sixth-round selection in 2006, has started each of his first two seasons and made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season.

Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy early last season said Giordano likely could start for many NFL seasons, an assessment with which Giordano said he doesn't disagree, but on which he said he doesn't dwell.

"I believe I could (start for a number of teams), but I'm here now, and that's what I'm focused on," Giordano said. "I'm here to play for the Colts."

Of playing behind Sanders and Bethea, Giordano said, "It's a tough situation, but it's a good situation, all in all. I feel we all challenge each other, just to push to get better. It's just not one guy who is talented. We're very talented in the defensive backfield.

"Even (starting cornerbacks) Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden have my vote, because of how well they did on the corners last year."

One thing Giordano said he won't do is spend time wishing for more playing time.

"This is a contact, collision s, so injuries do happen," Giordano said. "You don't wish injuries upon anybody, but you also want to be prepared for whatever does happen. Our defensive coaches, our defensive backfield coach (Alan Williams), tells us to learn all the positions, because you never know when you might have to step up and fill a spot you haven't practiced that much before."

Besides, Giordano said, worrying about how much he is playing, and whether he is starting, would be worrying about something beyond his control, and might be counterproductive. So for now, he said, he will continue focusing on what he can control, which is improving and continuing to accomplish whatever he can however he can.

"If you start thinking about yourself, you would get frustrated, but the thing about it is, it's a team sport and this is a team game," Giordano said. "We all are working to achieve one goal and that's to win the Super Bowl. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get to the Super Bowl again.

"We tasted the goods two years ago and we came up short last year. We're focused on getting back there this year."

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