INDIANAPOLIS – Jerraud Powers has packed a lot of experience into his first three professional seasons.
The Auburn product was a third-round pick in 2009, and he has started all 34 career outings. Powers never has failed to start fewer than 10 games in a season, twice opening 12 (2009, 2011), and he has been a part of two playoff teams and one conference champion.
From day one, Powers impressed the organization and his teammates with a demeanor rare for his age. That maturity, combined with his talent, helped him amass 175 tackles, 24 passes defensed, five interceptions, one forced fumble and one recovered fumble to date in his career.
Now entering his fourth year, Powers is on his second coaching staff. He is among the 30 current players on the roster who ended the 2011 season on the club's active roster. He also sees 59 of the club's 90 roster spots manned by players who have migrated to Indianapolis in the past few months, weeks and even days.
Powers has a measured approach to his style. He is busy learning new details of the defense while practicing the basic tasks of a position at which he has excelled for years.
"The main thing is just getting the terminology down. Coverage is coverage," said Powers. "Everybody has played in a lot of different things but at the end of the day, coverage is coverage. We're getting the terminology down so everybody is on the same page. That's the confusion part right now. We might be out there (on the field) calling something now and guys are like, 'What's that?' It's like a foreign language to them, so to speak. Once everybody gels with what all the different terminology means, where we're supposed to be (in the defense), where your help is, where you don't have help, just the ins-and-outs of the defense we're going to be fine."
Powers has played in a Cover-2 defense during his Colts days. With new Head Coach Chuck Pagano and a trending to a 3-4 front, the defense will take on a different look than in the past. Powers likes the possibilities ahead of him.
"It's a fun, attacking defense. I love everything about it," said Powers. "It gives you a lot of chances to make plays. We're going to be attacking, rather than how we used to be just sitting back and letting Dwight (Freeney) and Robert (Mathis) cause havoc. It's going to be a little mix of everybody causing havoc."
Other than safety Antoine Bethea, no member of the secondary has opened more games than
Powers since 2009. Bethea was part of a veteran group that included Kelvin Hayden, Bob Sanders and Melvin Bullitt when Powers arrived. He liked Powers from the start and thinks this could be a productive fourth season for the cornerback.
"His maturity was noticeable from the start," said Bethea. "We had some veterans in the secondary when Jerraud got here, and we saw his maturity was beyond his years from the first time he stepped on the field. The veterans could see Jerraud was a quick learner and was going to be good.
"Coming into this defense, I think it will show his full ability to be a corner. He is instinctive and can play man-to-man. I think the new defense could enable him to make more plays than the Cover-2. Jerraud is very smart and knows the game. With the knowledge he has, I think Jerraud is going to have a great season."
With a number of new teammates, a fresh head coach and the different direction of a coaching staff, Powers says he has maintained the same mental outlook for this off-season's work.
"Personally, I approached it the same. I've always had the mindset that no matter what goes on around you I try to keep my same schedule," said Powers. "Right now, I'm doing the same thing I always have. I'm going through the same process. I guess the only thing now more so, there is more emphasis on every day you're being evaluated. They (the coaches) haven't gotten a full evaluation of all the guys here. Every day you go out for practice or walk-through, you're being evaluated. You kind of focus on that part right now more than anything else."
Powers now ranks as one of the team's most senior players, and he has seen an influx of new faces to help stock the scheme being installed. He believes guys are embracing the change and the opportunity it presents.
"They're excited. Everybody is excited. I think more guys feel like they're going to have more opportunities to make a lot of plays," said Powers. "It's (the defense) going to be attacking. We used to kind of sit back in a Cover-2 scheme, let things happen, try to keep the ball in front of you, tackle, don't give up any big plays. That's not a bad system at all either. This defense is definitely going to attack and put pressure on an offense. It's going to give everybody more opportunities to make plays and put people in positions (to contribute).
Bethea shares the same views and anticipates exploits from Powers.
"I think it can help him," said Bethea. "In previous years, Jerraud has been playing at a Pro Bowl level. It will be interesting to see him this year. He is a play-maker, and I think he has the ability to be a lockdown corner."
A player who Powers believes has caused his share of havoc, defensive end Robert Mathis, thinks the cornerback will have motive and opportunity to contribute mayhem this year.
"He's abnormally smart to be so young," said Mathis. "Jerraud can retain information and turn it around and put it in a game. I think this defense is going to benefit him to the utmost."