Question: Help fans understand why you put yourself in danger as a punt returner every Sunday.
Troy Walters: It's a job. And it's a way to play in the NFL. Right now that's my main role on the team. It looks dangerous ... and it is. But I've been doing it for so long – since high school – it just comes natural. Some of the things that the fans see that might be frightening don't really frighten me. For me, it's just a job, a role and a way to stay on the football team.
Q: I'm assuming the opponents are yelling and trying to intimidate while you try to make that catch?
TW: Yeah. You've got the punt team running down, screaming, howling and doing whatever else they do. You've got the fans -- if you're playing on the road -- who are yelling. You've got the opposing team on the sideline, yelling, hoping that you miss the ball. There's a lot going on. But truly when I'm out there on the field, I'm focused on the ball. You've just got to block the distractions out.
Q: In practice, do you even have guys purposely standing near you, trying to distract you?
TW: Yeah. In practice, we simulate it. Guys run down, and then you have to make decisions on whether to fair catch or even catch it in traffic. We definitely simulate that in practice. You know, throughout the years you become accustomed to it. So it becomes more and more natural.
Q: Has anyone ever put such a big hit on you that you still remember it today?
TW: Oh yeah,
I've had several. I think in my career in the NFL, I've had like three or
four mild concussions. I remember this year on Monday night we played
Pittsburgh. I had a punt return down the sideline and one of their linebackers
hit me. My shoulders went numb for like 10 or 15 minutes.
Q: Your first year with the Colts, you also handled 53 kick returns and you had a 21.7 yard average. Over the past two seasons, you've only handled 17. Why the move away from kick returns?
A: I'm not really a big guy so I was taking quite a bit of punishment returning kicks. And our defense back then really wasn't that good so I was averaging six kickoff returns a game. It was just the pounding I took. Over the years, I've had a couple concussions. I can do kickoff returns, and I don't mind doing them, but just the punishment, it somewhat can be overwhelming at times, depending on how many times they kickoff. Dominic Rhodes, he was hurt that year. He's healthy, and he does a great job. So I'm there just in case something goes wrong.
Q: You've gone three consecutive three seasons without fumbling. That's a pretty important attribute, but even more so when you play for Tony Dungy, isn't it?
TW: Definitely. In fact, my first year with the Colts I had a bunch of them. Since then, I've really made a conscious effort. With the Colts, the offense, we have so many weapons. So when the opposing punts the ball, the main job is securing and giving the ball back to Peyton and Marvin and Reggie and those guys so they can go to work. So, I think sometimes, when I do fumble, I try to do too much and make too many things happen. Now, I understand the value of just possessing the ball. I still want to make the yards. I still want to create field position. But at the same time, you don't want to give the ball up so I've made a conscious effort not to do that.
Troy answers questions about his future with the Colts and catching passes from Peyton Manning in the second half of our Q&A feature on Thursday that will include exclusive audio for our ColtPower Insiders!