Colts Wednesday Notebook
Indianapolis Colts linebackers Gary Brackett and Pat Angerer are at opposite ends of the spectrum in their respective NFL careers.
Brackett is the Colts' defensive captain and an eighth-year veteran, while Angerer, the team's second-round draft pick, begins his rookie campaign.
Brackett undoubtedly understands NFL defensive schemes, and while it is just his second year under defensive coordinator Larry Coyer, he is responsible for making a majority of the on-field calls to get his teammates correctly lined up.
Angerer, on the other hand, is learning just how complex NFL defensive schemes can be and to grasp mentally.
"I messed up quite a bit and I was pretty down," Angerer said of Monday's first practices. "You just have to keep chipping away and sometimes you will break through."
Brackett recognizes how tough being a rookie can be and admitted the defensive scheme is not as vanilla as in years past.
"I think he is still a young guy that is still learning the system," Brackett said. "There is a lot getting thrown at him.
"We are a lot more than the three coverages we used to run for five or six years there. We are a little bit more exotic now. It is going to take a little while to learn things, but obviously you can see (he's) athletic, got some fire in him and can explode as a tackler."
The Colts opened their second day of practice in full pads and the pair of linebackers both agreed it was good to get out there and hit.
"Everyone looks good in shorts and helmets, but when you get the pads it really separates the men from the boys so to speak," Brackett said. "It is good to be out there running around and getting hit, hitting people. That's what football is all about."
FLYING UNDER THE RADAR
The Colts offense, which has ranked among the top five in the NFL eight of the last 11 seasons, gets its share of national attention, and deservedly so.
But it has been a strong effort from the defense that has gone somewhat unnoticed, and has been an integral part in the Colts winning 12-plus games in an NFL record seven consecutive seasons.
The defense has ranked in the top 10 in the league four of the past five years in opponents' scoring, including eighth last year while surrendering 19.2 points per game.
The defense posted those numbers under new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer, who installed a new system after the 2008 season.
Linebacker Gary Brackett, who ranked second on the team in tackles (115) in 2009, thinks the unit will improve this season based on a philosophy of former Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy.
"Obviously we should develop a little bit more in the system," Brackett said. "I think Coach (Tony) Dungy was famous for saying it's always the second year where you see the players really start to increase as far as their football IQ. I think the same thing with this system. Just learning things, knowing exactly what (Coyer) wants out of us, and we know how to prepare and go out there and execute the game plan."
Colts safety Antoine Bethea, who led the team in interceptions (4) and tackles (120) last season, benefited from the installation of the new defensive play packages.
"Coach Coyer has put some new things in there for everybody to go out there and have fun and make plays," Bethea said. "We have a lot of talented guys out there, so for him to do that is good for us."
And Bethea said no matter who gets the recognition, he is happy with the improvements the defense has made.
"We go out there every Sunday and do what we do," Bethea said. "We go out there and play hard. There are a lot of great players on our defense. On offense, the respect that they get, they deserve it. We are cool with flying under the radar and we will continue to do that, but we have some great players out there and we can all make plays."
MOALA MORE COMFORTABLE
Defensive tackle Fili Moala, the Colts 2009 second-round draft pick, acknowledged he did not exactly have the rookie campaign he was hoping for. Moala started just one game of the 10 he played, recording 10 solo tackles and seven assists.
While the transition from the collegiate level to the pros differs from rookie to rookie, Moala said he learned from last season and began to work much harder, especially in the film room, this past offseason. And while he felt physically ready for the NFL, he knew where to begin preparations to get better for this season.
"More than anything it was to mentally prepare myself," Moala said. "When you play football this long, football is football and the differences are minor. The mental difference was what the biggest difficulty for me was. I came in here (this season) mentally prepared and physically prepared as well. It is about learning how to be a pro, and that can be very difficult. The amount of film I've watched compared to the amount of film I need to watch is night and day."
Fellow defensive linemen commended Moala on his work ethic, and said the improvement can already be seen.
"Fili is balling," Daniel Muir said. "Fili is doing a great job. His work ethic is really showing. He has worked extremely hard this offseason and he is working extremely hard now just like all of us. He is going to come out here and be successful."