Colts Safety Condren Continues to Have Strong Preseason/Training Camp
INDIANAPOLIS – Things changed this past weekend for Brannon Condren, and they changed fairly drastically.
Most imantly for Condren, they changed for the better.
Condren, a second-year Colts safety from Troy, continued a strong preseason/training camp this past Saturday in a victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Condren, who intercepted six passes in training camp, played extensively against Atlanta, and in the second half, had two interceptions in three drives.
Strangest to Condren was how the interceptions came.
The first came with just under seven minutes remaining on a deflected pass.
The second came two series later . . .
Again, on a deflection.
And to Condren that was just, plain weird.
"I was usually on the total opposite side of the field when something like that happens," Condren said this week as the Colts (1-2 in the preseason) prepared to play the Buffalo Bills in the first preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday at 8 p.m.
"I guess luck's just swinging my way a little bit. I got two, and hopefully, those will keep coming my way."
If luck is swinging toward Condren, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said there's a reason.
Condren, a fourth-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, played mostly on special teams last season, but impressed coaches throughout the offseason and training camp with his increased awareness and confidence, Dungy said.
"He's playing a little more relaxed," Dungy said. "He's a little more comfortable and his athletic ability is coming out. The things that we saw him do and the plays he made in college – you're just waiting for him to relax and make those. And he is showing it.
"When the game slows down and you feel like you're in the right place, you can play aggressively. That's what's happening for Brannon as well."
Condren, who in three preseason games is one of the Colts' leading tacklers with 14 – including a team-high nine against the Carolina Panthers on August 9 – said during the offseason he felt significantly more confident, and that he had a better grasp of the Colts' defense.
"Just being out there has really helped me out," he said.
He said this week that feeling has continued into camp and preseason, and said being a bit fortunate this past Saturday may have been in part about something more.
"This year," Condren said, "I just feel more and more confident. That just comes with it, I guess. I haven't been too lucky in the past, getting tipped balls. I guess that's all confidence. In college, they would throw a ball my way and I'd just be looking for the hit instead of trying to get an interception. Now, it has changed. Now, I'm looking to get the ball instead of doing that.
"I have a wider vision, I guess you'd say, instead of just being locked on my specific thing. Look around, you see more specific stuff. That helps you see different stuff and that helps you make more plays on different things. I guess that goes with the territory."
Interceptions, he said, are "newer territory for me, but I like it and I hope that doesn't stop."
Condren, who started two seasons at Troy, intercepted two passes in college, and said he rarely got as many opportunities to create turnovers in college as he has during camp this season.
"In college the last couple of years, I was the guy on defense, so I guess they tried to stay away from me a little bit, too, with passes," he said. "That's obviously different now. Hopefully, they will pass my way a lot of more and give me a chance to make some plays."
Just how much opportunity he will have during the regular season begins, he said, remains to be seen. He is competing at one of the Colts' deepest positions, one that includes two-time Pro Bowl selection and 2007 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 2007 Pro Bowl selection Antoine Bethea, as well as four-year veteran Matt Giordano and second-year veteran Melvin Bullitt.
"It's hard," Condren said. "All three of them – Sanders, Bethea and Giordano – are awesome guys. I like all of them and they'll help me out whenever I need it. Coming from college, you want to play right way. You come in and it's tough, because you know you're not going to start over them guys.
"I want to be out there playing and I'm not and it just kills me. I guess it's not my time right now, so I'm just waiting. Whenever I do get in there, I just have to show what I can do and see what happens from there."
And although he has played extensively in the Colts' first three preseason games, he said that likely won't continue long-term.
"The last one I should be in there a lot," Condren said of the preseason finale on Thursday, August 28 against Cincinnati at Lucas Oil Stadium. "I want to continue to improve and keep getting better every game. I feel every preseason game so far I've gotten a little better. I just want to keep that up and keep improving and hopefully, prove to the coaches I can get out there and do it so they'll put me in if necessary.
"I mess up on a few things still. I just have to correct that. Once I get out there and do that, I'll be fine."
And because Condren said he very much wants to play, and because he said he understands the depth at the position will make that difficult, he said for now, special teams "is my calling" and is working to improve his blocking on kickoff returns.
"Besides that, I feel I've been doing pretty good," Condren said. "I just have to keep that up and hopefully, that will be my ticket right there. It's more trying to make plays than trying to be a big hitter.
"Anybody can throw their body into somebody, but if you're out there making plays, you stand out a lot more."