Teams around the NFL are soon going to be wondering how in the world they allowed former Howard University safety Antoine Bethea to slip into the sixth-round and into the hands of an already talented team like the Indianapolis Colts. He’s made such an impact during his first training camp and preseason that he could get the start at safety alongside Pro Bowler Bob Sanders when the Colts meet the New York Giants on Sunday night.
Through Thursday’s practice, Bethea was still working with the first-team defense while last year’s starter, Mike Doss, who returned to practice this week following a calf injury, worked out with the second team. Bethea will find out on Friday whether he or Doss will get the start on national television in the Meadowlands. But at the moment, it appears he has the edge.
The Colts, who did their homework and brought Bethea in for a pre-draft visit, were the likely beneficiary of a far-too prevalent small-school bias in the NFL that can lead teams and their scouts to wonder if a big-time player from a Division I-AA school or smaller can make the leap to the pro level as easily as those from Division I-A schools.
Bethea, who many expected to be selected higher than the sixth-round, adamantly wants to send a message that the bias can backfire on teams. He’s made it his mission to display the skills at the pro level that helped make him Howard University’s leading tackler for three straight years. And although his effort on every play is quite evident, he’s around the ball so much that it makes you wonder at times if the ball is following him instead of the other way around. During the preseason, he led the team in turnovers, intercepting a pass and recovering two fumbles. He made 17 tackles, was credited with two pass defenses, forced a fumble and even made a special teams tackle.
Bethea is establishing himself as a playmaker very early in his NFL career. His instincts are nothing short of amazing and his outlook and focus reflects a maturity far beyond his years. And as a result, he could be the only Colts rookie who starts in the season opener – no small feat considering the level and depth of talent on the Colts roster.
ColtPower’s Ed Thompson talked to the exciting Colts rookie Thursday night to find out what he’s thought of his progress to date, and what’s going through his mind as he gets ready for his first NFL game. ColtPower Insiders can click here to read our exclusive interview...