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Rookie cornerback JuJu Brents relishes chance to help get his hometown Colts back into the playoffs

Brents was born and raised in Indianapolis. He attended Warren Central High School, where he played defensive back for the Warriors.

JuJu Raiders

After suffering a quad injury in Week 7, rookie cornerback JuJu Brents was out of action for the next six games as he recovered.

It was a frustrating time for the second round pick considering he'd already missed the first two games of the season due to a hamstring issue he suffered during training camp.

However, while on the sideline he made sure to take advantage of getting those mental reps so that when the time came for him to return, he'd be better than the player he was earlier in the season.

"Just kind of like making those plays before they even happen," Brents said. "Being able to not be out there was tough. But just staying in tune with the guys, seeing those pictures, so once I'm out there on the field it's kind of like second nature. I've seen some of those pictures and just being able to react fast, play fast."

Since returning against the Steelers in Week 15, it's been clear that Brents' game has grown. The best example of Brents' improvement was Saturday's 23-20 win against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Despite lining up against wide receiver Davante Adams several times, who is widely considered to be one of the best players in the NFL, he still led all defenders with an 87.6 coverage grade per Pro Football Focus.

"That was a good matchup for me just going against one of best quote-unquote," Brents said. "It was good just to go out there and be able to compete with him. It's all like a learning experience, just different things - it's like mental warfare. He ain't much of a talker. I kind of am - trying to get into his head, trying to see if he would fight back a little bit or fight back at it. He really wasn't budging, but it's all respect.

"The way he goes about his game, it allowed me to stay locked in completely. So, it don't matter who I'm playing. If it's a bigger name or not a bigger name, you got to have that same mentality week in and week out."

He finished the game with six tackles and a game-high three pass deflections.

"We were going to play more press this week with him - try to get tighter to some of these concepts that they're running and there were some runaway routes and we felt very good about JuJu on his matchup," defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. "Again, he needs banked experiences and each game he plays, the better he'll get."

As good as his performance was, what truly excited Brents was what the win did for the team.

Following the Colts' victory and the results of other games around the AFC, it put the team in a position where if they win Saturday against the Houston Texans, they are in the playoffs.

"It's a lot of guys who've played 10 or sometimes 12-plus years and haven't even played in a playoff game, let alone win one," Brents said. "So, we know it's a lot at stake. For us, it's exciting. We're blessed to have this opportunity and we're not gonna take it lightly. We're just gonna go out there and keep competing and hopefully get some wins."

As an Indianapolis native, Brents grew up watching the Colts teams in the past consistently make the playoffs. So, to have a chance to be a part of the first squad back in the postseason since 2020 is something he is appreciative of.

"I remember when I was six or seven years old and [they] won the Super Bowl," Brents said. "So, just watching those games and now being able to be in the same type of uniform and have the same type of opportunity is very big and special. I'm just looking forward to it."

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