Reliable, Durable Brock Could Play a Key Role for Colts in Super Bowl XLIV
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The experience is far from new to Raheem Brock.
Brock, the Colts' eighth-year veteran defensive end, said the reality is that whatever his situation this coming Sunday – whether he starts, whether he plays his normal role or whether he plays far more extensively than he has thus far this season – he'll be used to the experience.
Brock, after all, has been there before. He has been there many, many seasons.
And he has seen just about every situation.
"We've been through this before," Brock said Wednesday morning as the AFC Champion Colts (16-2) prepared to play the NFC Champion New Orleans Saints (15-3) in Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium Sunday.
"The rest of the young guys are stepping up and playing a little bit more. We're not worried. We've been through this before."
Brock, who started eight games this season – the first time since 2002 he was not a full-time starter at either end or tackle – has been a focus of attention during Super Bowl week with Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney listed as questionable with an ankle injury.
Freeney, who sustained the injury against the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game, said on Wednesday he is day to day, and Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said this week if Freeney doesn't play, the Colts will use a rotation at the position.
Brock would be heavily involved in that rotation, Caldwell said.
And said that's a situation in which the Colts feel confident.
Brock, Caldwell said, has been a solid, durable player for the Colts for much of the decade, and he said there's little reason he won't play well Sunday.
"It's not anyone that's brand new," Caldwell said. "It's not like he's been unearthed as some unusual talent. The guy has made a lot of great plays throughout the years."
Because Freeney has not practiced since the AFC Championship Game, Caldwell said the Colts are essentially preparing as if he won't play.
"That's how we're approaching everything…We don't need to show him anything. He knows how to get to the quarterback."
Said Colts safety Antoine Bethea, "It's going to have to be 11 guys out there on the field just getting to the ball. It's not just going to be me, it's not going to be (linebacker) Gary Brackett or Raheem Brock; it's going to have to be all 11 guys out there on the field doing their job and trying to step their game up to another level. It's the Super Bowl. Everybody's got to step their game up.
"We're here, and we've done it all year when somebody goes down. The next man can come in and do a great job. I have confidence whoever it is – Raheem Brock – comes in, he'll do a great job for us."
Brock, who has 3.5 sacks this season, has 28.5 in his career, and if he doesn't have the pass-rushing reputation as Freeney or two-time Pro Bowl Robert Mathis, he has during his career had a knack for the clutch play.
Brock forced a fumble in the Colts' victory over Baltimore in last month's AFC Divisional Playoff, and against the Houston Texans last season, it was Brock's hustle that forced a fumble that Brackett returned for a touchdown in one of the Colts' most memorable comebacks of the decade.
"He's a guy that is very smart, he's been around and he understands our defensive scheme extremely well," Caldwell said. "He's highly motivated and that kind of experience, obviously that helps us in case Dwight cannot go."
Even before he was experienced, Brock typically has been a valuable – if overlooked – player on the Colts' defense. He joined the Colts in training camp of his rookie season – 2002 – after his rights were relinquished by his hometown team, the Philadelphia Eagles.
He quickly emerged as a solid young player in the Colts' newly-installed one-gap style of defense, starting six games as a rookie, then starting at end in all 16 games in 2003-2005 before moving to defensive tackle during the 2006 season.
Brock, who said this week he didn't much enjoy playing tackle full-time, started there again the following season, but returned to end the past two seasons.
Teammates said although he has not started full-time this season, that didn't mean he wasn't contributing. Not even close.
"Raheem Brock is a very accomplished veteran on our team," Freeney said. "He's very underrated. He's very versatile and he does many things for our defense. Not only can he put his hands down, he can actually stand up. He does some standing up and switching sides.
"He's been a cornerstone of our defense for years and we know where he's going to be. He's a very consistent guy and he makes this happen for us."
And if some observers haven't seen that consistency, and haven't seen his contributions, Brock said that doesn't mean they haven't happened. And it doesn't mean he hasn't been here before.
"The media here (at the Super Bowl), they don't understand," Brock said. "They don't watch us like that. They see Robert and Dwight. People in Indy know what we do. If Dwight's not playing, me and Robert are at the ends, the young guys step up and we handle business. That's why we're not worried and nobody's panicking but the media.
"I try to take advantage of opunities that I have when I'm out there trying to make some plays. Whether I'm out there on first or second down or we have our unit out there.
"The best thing I can do is try to take advantage of my opportunities."