He went from being a safety without a team to his first Pro Bowl.
When originally signed in June of 2014, he was thought to be insurance at the position. But LaRon Landry got suspended and the underwhelming former Pro Bowl safety got released with two years remaining on his contract in what constituted an expensive mistake. Sergio Brown was allowed to become a free agent and signed with Jacksonville.
Just like that, Adams’ value has increased. His career-high five interceptions and two fumble recoveries tied for the most takeaways of any NFL defender, hence the chance to play in Honolulu in February.
Adams showed his nose for the football again with an interception of Andrew Luck during last week’s open mini-camp workout at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“I picked off Andrew Luck, which is a great thing,” he said after the practice.
On a Super Bowl contender seemingly overloaded on offense and with more questions about the defense, can Adams repeat his 2014 performance?
“I’d say I think I proved everybody wrong last year, and I think every year I’ve got to prove my love,” he said during offseason training activities. “Every year. I get no love, but it’s all good. Again, I’m the underdog. I always will be. I’m going to go out there and I’m going to play and do me.
“Whoever is next to me, we’re all competing. I don’t even have a job right now, that’s how I see it. I’m looking into this thing like I’m competing, I’m starting from the bottom. We’re just going to go out there, and we’re going to see what happens.”
That’s one of the reasons head coach Chuck Pagano has liked Adams, who always plays like he has something to prove.
“He’s always played with a chip on his shoulder,” Pagano said during OTAs. “He’s bounced around like a lot of guys do in this league. He’s probably been told his entire career he’s this, he’s that, he’s not fast enough, he’s not big enough, whatever. But he’s found a way to carve out a pretty good career. He’s always hungry. He takes care of himself. He trains really well. He still moves around really well. He’s a smart guy. He’s a tough guy. He’s reliable. He’s accountable.
“Another year in the system, he’s that much further along as far as terminology and scheme and knowing that stuff. So I think some of the thinking stuff is going to go away, and he’ll be able to play even faster and direct traffic even at a higher level. Just go play. That’s what I stress. These guys have got to work at their craft over and over and over again. You’re not trying to practice to become perfect at something. You’re trying to practice so that you can never do it wrong. It’s just second nature. Again, with the knowledge that he’s gained over a year and then going into year two, it’ll be that much easier for him.”
Adams has played 162 games in 11 NFL seasons for four teams, including 89 starts, so he knows the routine. When he arrived a year ago, he said he was just competing for a starting job. And he earned it. In addition to the turnovers, he made a career-high 87 total tackles.
Nothing has really changed, except maybe loftier expectations for a team that added several expensive free agents, including defensive end Kendall Langford, outside linebacker Trent Cole and inside linebacker Nate Irving on defense.
The Colts drafted Central Florida safety Clayton Geathers in the fourth round and signed former Atlanta Falcons safety Dwight Lowery in free agency. Lowery, like Adams a year ago, got a one-year deal.
As Pagano said, Adams is expected to be a leader.
“We had the whole OTAs and we’re getting better,” Adams said. “We’re getting better and better especially with our communication back there. With the additions we made up front, our defense is definitely looking solid.”
Adams won’t take much time off between now and when the Colts report for training camp at Anderson University on Aug. 1.
“I get right back to work,” he said. “I probably take two weeks off, have a camp with the kids and then after that take a little time to myself. Then I’m right back at it in training and getting my conditioning ready.”
Adams joked that with so many new faces, particularly young ones on defense, his leadership will extend beyond just football.
“First of all, I’m going to have some Krispy Kreme donuts,” he said. “Second, coffee, for anybody that wants any, let me know. I’m taking orders.”
After a chuckle, he added, “I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking at schooling them a little bit and just showing them the ropes. I’m excited for what we have. Just to mentor the young guys because we’re planning on making a nice little run here.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.