PURSUING PERFECTION

Rookie middle linebacker Pat Angerer has led the Colts in tackles in two of three preseason games, but he's far from satisfied with his performance. 'I'm always my worst critic,' he says.

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"I'm Always My Worst Critic," Colts Rookie Middle Linebacker Pat Angerer Says

INDIANAPOLIS – As critical as he is when judging himself – and at times, he's very, very critical – Pat Angerer will give himself at least some credit.

He's getting a bit better, a bit more comfortable.

He said he's not where he wants to be and really, he said, he's not close, but Angerer – the Colts' rookie middle linebacker from the University of Iowa – said when he is playing he feels a bit less lost, and when he watches film, he sees a bit more to like. That, Angerer said, is progress.

So for now, he'll take it.

"I think every game – I'm more comfortable every time I step on the field," Angerer said Saturday, two days after the Colts' third preseason game – a 59-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

"Every time I get in with the defense, I feel more comfortable."

Angerer, a second-round selection by the Colts in the 2010 NFL Draft, has played as a reserve in each of the first three preseason games. He had his most extensive action of the preseason this past Thursday, and worked more with the first-teamers than in either of the first two games.

With middle linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett leaving early in the game with a hand injury, Angerer played extensively from late in the first quarter, registering 10 tackles.

"He handled himself pretty well," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "He made some nice adjustments, in terms of making the proper calls with our defense. He moved to the ball well. He's learning."

In addition to playing during the play, the Colts' middle linebacker must typically handle sideline signals and pre-snap adjustments, something Caldwell said Angerer did well Thursday.

"Depending on the call, some calls require shifts, some (do) not, some you stand pat," Caldwell said. "But there is still a lot of thinking going on.

"He's like the quarterback of the defense, and he handled it well."

Said Angerer, "Hopefully, I get to the point where I can just play and not think and just react and play fast."

Angerer said while he is improving, he's not at that point. Not yet.

"Going from college, being really comfortable, I still have a lot of work to do," Angerer said.

Still, there's little question Angerer has impressed teammates, and that he did so this past Thursday, when he entered the game after Brackett injured his hand when hit by the helmet of teammate Philip Wheeler near the end of a play.

Clint Session, a Colts outside linebacker, hadn't played next to Angerer, having missed the first two preseason games.

In his first experience playing with Angerer, Session said he saw positives.

"I thought Angerer, he played really good," Session said. "I always say, 'Pat's a gamer.' When he gets out onto the field, you go into another gear. That's good. He's come in here as a rookie and he's ahead of a lot of other rookies. He'll be a good player here."

Angerer has been productive in each of the Colts' three preseason games.

He led the Colts in tackles in a preseason-opening loss to San Francisco with eight, and also had two sacks, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. The following week against the Bills, he again replaced Brackett, finishing with not only five defensive tackles, but a special teams tackle.

His 10 tackles against Green Bay were also a team-high.

"I think I was ready," Angerer said. "The coaches do a good job preparing for us, and all of the players did a good job of having my back out there. It was fun."

Angerer, since joining the Colts, often publicly has expressed the need to improve – and in a hurry. When meeting with the media on the first day of Colts rookie mini-camp in May, he talked of the many mistakes he had made, and he did the same during training camp. He said he's still making mistakes, but that he sees improvement, too.

"I came in knowing it was going to be tough," Angerer said. "Obviously, when you come in, you want to be good right away. That's just not going to happen, but the coaches are doing a good job of helping out, and I think I've been able to improve every day.

"Obviously, it's been a learning process and I've made the mistakes," Angerer said. "I think gradually I've been able to improve each game. The coaches and older players have really helped me along."

Angerer could play extensively Thursday, too, when the Colts play host to the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2010 preseason finale at Lucas Oil Stadium. While Colts President Bill Polian said Saturday Brackett is fine, and that the hand injury is just a bruise, the team's starters often play sparingly or not at all in the final preseason game.

"Obviously, I'm going to approach each game like I'm playing," Angerer said. "I'm going to work hard and try to improve."

And when he does, even though he's getting a bit more comfortable, and a bit better, don't expect much in the way of satisfaction. Not anytime soon.

"I'm always my worst critic," Angerer said. "There are still a ton of things I need to do better, but I think I've been able to improve, but not to the level I want. I want perfection."

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