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INDIANAPOLIS Duron Carter has taken a long and unique road to the NFL. So he often pauses to appreciate the little things.
“Oh, yeah, just every day just coming into the facility, it feels great driving in,” he said Wednesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. “I got my own little key card. I’m a Colt. It’s a dream come true.”
Wait, Carter is excited about owning a key card? Were those not standard issue in the Canadian Football League where the rangy wide receiver starred for the last two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes?
“No,” Carter said with a smile and a laugh. “We didn’t have a gate. So more just walk in when you came in.”
The security at team headquarters isn’t the only adjustment the 24 year old will make this year.
Of all the new faces in Indianapolis, Carter is the most intriguing. The son of Hall of Famer Cris Carter bounced around three colleges including his dad’s alma mater, Ohio State before landing in the CFL. There he used his 6 foot 5, 205 pound frame to become the kind of big play machine scouts always had envisioned possible.
Now the question becomes will those skills translate to America’s game?
Carter will need to learn how to beat press coverage, overcoming the physicality at the line of scrimmage so prevalent in the NFL.
But first, he’ll need to digest a whole new playbook and blend in with a new group of teammates.
“We’re only in our first couple days of install and just seeing how in depth (the playbook) is to just getting people open,” Carter said. “I’m just really excited.”
He’ll likely compete for the fourth receiver role with veteran addition Vincent Brown. And he’ll have plenty of role models in a new look wideout room. Hilton who is embracing his new role as a leader.
“Reg (Reggie Wayne) did it for me. So, for me, it’s just passing on the torch,” Hilton said of taking young receivers under his wing. “Whatever they need, I told them they could ask me, ask Dre (Andre Johnson), ask (Donte) Moncrief. We’re here to help any way we can because we’re just trying to get better.”
The Colts believe they’ve done just that with Johnson being imported from the rival Houston Texans to fill Wayne’s old shoes. It’s a bittersweet feeling for the former University of Miami star and Wayne’s old college teammate.
“Me and Reggie have always wanted to play together,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately,
it didn’t work out that way. I have a lot of respect for Reggie. He’s a great friend of mine. I still talk to him a lot. It’s just an unfortunate situation. I really wish he was still here.”
Wayne was not re signed as a free agent after 14 seasons in Indianapolis.
Johnson will be asked to provide the same kind of veteran leadership and third down dependability for the Colts.
It’s a role he’s extremely familiar with, and one he’s happy to play in his new surroundings.
“It’s like a breath of fresh air,” Johnson said. “You’ve been in one place a long time, the past two years have been pretty frsutrating for me. Just being here is like a breath of fresh air for me.”
Johnson’s addition and a likely expanded role for Moncrief in his second year have provided a breath of fresh air for the Indianapolis receiving corps.
And Hilton, for one, likes the new mix.
“We have guys that can do it all,” he said. “Especially with the addition of Dre coming here with his size, his athleticism and his ability to make plays. And then Moncrief is fast, can take the top off a defense. He’s working hard every day, just getting better. Right now, that shows us we’re a group that’s a force to be reckoned with.”
MAN ON A MISSION: New outside linebacker Trent Cole will be relied upon to provide some extra punch to the Colts’ pass rush.
But the 11th year veteran doesn’t have a sack total he’s aiming for this season. The only prize that matters is the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Cole has spoken with former Philadelphia teammates Darren Howard, Hollis Thomas and Lito Sheppard who each retired without a Super Bowl ring. They all gave him the same advice: Win the big game.
“That’s the thing they talk about, man, leaving the league without trying to get to the big one,” Cole said. “There’s a reason why I go out there and I play so hard. I wanna be an impact to the team. I wanna be an example to the team, be a leader. Being in the league so long, you get to that point to where there’s no other way to go. There’s just one speed. There’s one way to practice. There’s one way to learn. So you can be the best.”
NUMBERS GAME: Fourth year running back Vick Ballard has played in just one game over the past two seasons because of knee and foot injuries. When he returns to the field this fall, he’ll have a new look.
Ballard has switched his jersey to No. 26.
“I never really liked 33,” he said. “I wore 26 in high school, one year in college. So I kind of look at it as a fresh start,