After being selected in the sixth-round out of Howard University in this year’s draft, it had to be a bit inconceivable for safety Antoine Bethea to think that he’d be getting ready for his seventh start of the season at this early stage of his NFL career. The talented and determined safety even had to overcome a training camp injury en route to claiming a starting spot on opening day next to Pro Bowler Bob Sanders. But part of his success is due to the level of focus and discipline he brought with him from the very first day he reported to work as an Indianapolis Colt.
The team has developed business-like personality that has a rhythm to it. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low. Always look for ways to get better through learning from the past. Be focused on your opponent and be focused on playing Colts football. Never panic because the team has the talent and the will to win.
None of those principles were new to Bethea, despite the fact that he was a rookie. And as he and the team have two huge games coming up on their slate, the approach is the same.
“It’s another week at work,” Bethea calmly told ColtPower this week.
Some could grossly misinterpret that as nonchalance, but it’s nothing of the kind. Bethea was simply reflecting another one of the Colts’ great advantages as they prepare for each week’s opponent – they get ready for each one with a level of respect usually reserved for the truly elite teams in the league no matter who they're facing. Because to the Colts, when you play in the NFL you’re deserving of the same high level of respect. No opponent gets overlooked. No one looks ahead, not even if it’s for a glimpse of the archrival Patriots that can now be seen beckoning on the horizon.
And it’s paying off.
“We’re going to go into it like a regular game,” Bethea said. “They have two good receivers, a mobile quarterback in Jake Plummer, and their running game has always been good with Tatum Bell…but just like last week, we’re going to focus on stopping the run and make Denver pass on us. Then if we can let our defensive ends go get the quarterback and the back seven drop back and read the quarterback, I think we’re going to do well.
"The main thing is we need to stop the run and then let our offense get on the field most of the time and do what they do."
If the Broncos are forced to the air like Washington was a week ago, the defense will be drilling down on Denver quarterback Jake Plummer and his top two receivers: Javon Walker (29-495, 2 TDs) and Rod Smith (22-205, 1 TD).
“Rod Smith is the veteran and he’s a go-hard type of receiver. He’s going to go down and do the dirty stuff -- come across the middle of the field to catch the ball,” Bethea said. “Javon Walker, so far this year, has been the go-to receiver that is going to go up and get the ball and really stretch the field.
"They really like good-sized receivers, so one thing we have to do is limit the receivers
that make big plays and hopefully we’ll come out with another victory.”
The Colts secondary will have to limit those big plays without Mike Doss, who has started the last four games alongside of Bethea. He tore his ACL last weekend against Washington and was placed on injured reserve. Fortunately, Bob Sanders appears to be ready to resume action this weekend, just in the nick of time.
“Doss was one of the leaders back there in the secondary as well as on the defense keeping details straight, so that’s a big loss,” he said. “We’re going to go out there and play hard for him.”
The loss of Doss was another bump in the road to overcome as the Colts continue their methodical journey that they hope will help them hoist a Lombardi Trophy early next year. So once again, it’s just another day at the office, figuring out how to keep everything moving in a positive direction towards another win.
“We’ve got to take it one week at a time so we’re focusing on the Denver Broncos right now,” Bethea said. “They’re 5-1 and they have a really good team so we’re just trying to go out there and get the victory.”
ColtPower Insiders can hear more from Antoine Bethea in our exclusive Colts Q&A on Friday. Find out why he's glad Indianapolis is playing Denver now, what he had to say about his big TD-saving tackle on Clinton Portis last week, who he feels have been the toughest running backs and receivers he's faced to date...and more!