Few in league circles had the Colts winning six games this season, let alone storming out to a 6-3 start and positioning themselves perfectly for a wild-card berth.
When considering the adversity Indianapolis has overcome to get there — head coach Chuck Pagano’s illness and myriad injuries on defense — what the Colts have accomplished is truly something to behold.
Thus, while the most recent injury news — No. 1 CB Jerraud Powers and backup DE Drake Nevis going on injured reserve with toe and hand injuries, respectively — is another significant blow, it might not be crippling.
Powers had not been himself this season, struggling to grasp Pagano’s new scheme. Meanwhile, his replacement, the AFC’s defensive player of the week, Darius Butler, appears to suddenly have a new lease on life.
A second-round pick by the Patriots in 2009, Butler fizzled out in New England and Carolina, mainly because of his lackadaisical attitude, we hear. Yet, he has brought with him to Indianapolis a greater focus and hunger to reach his potential, and he certainly made the most of his opportunities in Week 10, returning an interception for a TD and recovering a fumble.
One NFL personnel evaluator pointed out that Butler has played in the postseason and went up against a future Hall of Famer, Tom Brady, in practice every day, so it’s not like he doesn’t have the experience and pedigree to succeed.
The same evaluator added that, according to his grades, the Colts now have the top two cornerbacks from the 2009 draft class, after GM Ryan Grigson acquired former first-rounder Vontae Davis from the Dolphins shortly before the season.
Much like with Butler, talent has never been an issue for Davis. Rather, a lack of confidence and discipline put a damper on his stint in South Beach. The early returns from his time in Indianapolis have been underwhelming, with Davis experiencing his share of struggles, before sustaining an ankle injury in Week Eight that has sidelined him ever since.
However, Davis is getting closer to returning, we hear, and his presence will give the Colts a pair of highly athletic playmakers at the CB position, with plenty of room to grow.
Powers is in the final year of his rookie contract, and his third consecutive season-ending trip to injured reserve means he will have missed 22 of a possible 64 games in his four-year NFL career. It remains to be seen if he is in the club’s plans for the future — Powers is a solid starter who is highly respected by his teammates — but if the Colts can find a way to maximize Butler's and Davis’ untapped potential, it gives them more flexibility for the future.