Second-Year Colts Safety Clayton Geathers Faces Bigger Role

Two-game starter as 2015 rookie is full-time starter now.

He’s still learning every day, but Indianapolis Colts safety Clayton Geathers realizes expectations are higher for his second NFL season.

As a rookie a year ago, the fourth-round pick out of Central Florida played in 15 games with two starts. He was used primarily on special teams.

Now that Dwight Lowery has departed in free agency, Geathers has been slotted alongside two-time Pro Bowl safety Mike Adams as the back line of the Colts defense. The Colts just drafted safety T.J. Green in the second round, presumably with an eye toward the future, considering Adams is 35 and entering a contract year, his 13th NFL season.

Geathers, 24, tries to follow Adams’ example.

“I feel like I’m adjusting well,” Geathers said during recent offseason training activities. “From last year to now is a huge difference. I can even feel it. My body feels different, things like that. I’m starting to feel a little bit more comfortable. That confidence level is rising. The confidence level was always there, but I can feel it more now.”

Head coach Chuck Pagano can see it, too. He mentioned Geathers’ growth during offseason workouts. Because Geathers has decent size at 6-1 and 215, the Colts have taken a look at the hard-hitting safety as a linebacker in dime packages in the past.

Pagano was asked if the Colts will use Geathers more in that dime position.

“We will see how we progress,” Pagano said. “It’s still really early. Our inside backers are doing a nice job. With a healthy Sio (Moore) and a healthy Nate (Irving) and a healthy Josh (McNary), we have athletic guys at the linebacker spot that can run and fulfill that dime position in our sub packages. There’s really not a need right now. And it’s great that those linebackers are getting that work.

“Will we go down that road at a later date? We will see. Clayton is doing a great job and he’s communicating really well back there with Mike (Adams). He doesn’t make mental errors. He’s a very conscientious guy and he’s a talented guy. He’s gotten himself in really good shape, looks fasters, looks rangier, twitchier. He’s making nice plays. He made a nice play today in the red area. We will just wait and see where that goes.”

Geathers says one lesson he learned from his first season was to communicate. 

“It’s knowing your job and don’t be afraid to speak up,” he said. “If you’re not kind of sure and you hear something else and you just went along with it, that’s something I learned (not to do). Just go ahead and say it.

“I come in and learn each and every day, which I’m still doing. Just learn from Mike and Vontae (Davis) and the rest of those guys back there, just trying to bring me along as quick as possible.” 

The Colts count on safeties not just as pass defenders but to support in run defense. Last year, the Colts struggled in both areas. They ranked 24th in pass defense and 25th in run defense.

If Geathers understands anything about how he should approach being a starter, it’s maintaining a singular focus.

“Play fast,” he said. “Don’t think out there. Just react.”

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.

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