YOUTH GETS REGULAR SEASON TASTE

Head Coach Chuck Pagano knows there will be growing pains with such a young roster, but he is pleased with the production the team received from a number of a different young players last Sunday.

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INDIANAPOLIS – There were a number of firsts coming out of the Colts' season opener against the Bears.

Eleven Colts players made their NFL debuts on Sunday, including four in the starting lineup.

Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman was one of those getting his first taste of regular season action in the NFL.

It did not take long for Freeman to make his imprint on the game.  On the Bears' first play of their second offensive series, Freeman picked off Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler and returned the interception four yards for a touchdown.

It was an almost perfect storybook type of start for a player recording a turnover and a touchdown in his first NFL start.

"I definitely would have liked to have come up with a win," Freeman said.  "I'm not into individual accolades, that's not the type of person I am.  I could care less right now.  Hopefully, I'll do what I can to do to help this team win football games."

Those are mature words from a young player from Mary Hardin-Baylor who cut some teeth in the Canadian Football League.

Freeman's touchdown was set up by a heads-up play by another young Colts defender.

Second-year safety Joe Lefeged downed a pair of punts inside the five-yard line on Sunday, including the one that pinned the Bears against their own goal line on the play prior to the Freeman pick.  Lefeged, who originally joined the Colts in 2011 as an undrafted free agent from Rutgers, and was one of a few young players who caught the eye of Head Coach Chuck Pagano.

"We got the pick six because you've got a great kick by Pat (McAfee), then you've got Joe (Lefeged) who does a great job on the end line of tapping that thing in, and they've got to start from the three-yard line," Pagano said.

"(Cutler) tries to force one in there and Jerrell (Freeman) makes a great play.  So you couldn't ask for a better start as far as that goes."

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The Colts offense has rookies scattered all over the skill positions, and three of those started on Sunday.

Tight end Coby Fleener came alive on the team's final drive of the first half, producing three catches for 51 yards.

Fleener finished the game with six receptions for 82 yards, and he, along with Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, were two of just four players around the league that had at least three separate plays of 20 yards or more in Week One.

"Coby (Fleener) played as good a game as he's played since he's been here counting the preseason, the catches that he made and then the run game," Pagano said.

Similar to Freeman, Fleener's thought process was all about the team when comparing his individual accomplishments to the end result.

"I think it's one of those things where you start at the bottom Week One, and hopefully we progress each week and get better," Fleener said.

Some of the young Colts will have another first this weekend when they get to play in the home opener at Lucas Oil Stadium.

With two preseason victories under their belt at home, Pagano is hoping to see same type of production against Minnesota.

 "There's a bunch of young guys that stepped up and made plays, and the game wasn't too big for them," Pagano said.  "We kind of expected it because we saw it in preseason, and you can say, 'Well, it's preseason,' but it's the same thing."

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