He's not a rookie anymore, but 2005 fifth-round draft pick Tyjuan Hagler is looking forward to his first full season of action with the same anticipation of the more than 20 rookies who were in Indianapolis this past weekend for their rookie mini-camp. And to add to the excitement, he recently learned that he'll be switching positions on the depth chart to weakside linebacker, backing up Cato June this season.
"I had a feeling I was going to move outside, but I didn't know which position," he told ColtPower this week. "I played weakside and strongside in college, so that's something I'm familiar with. So now I've just got to get familiar with the playbook at the position."
At the University of Cincinnati, Hagler was a three-year starter at the strongside position and was the fastest of the team's linebackers, despite being hindered by a nagging sports hernia injury during his last two seasons -- that wasn't fully diagnosed until he joined the Colts.
Hagler had surgery to correct the problem and was put on the team's Physically Unable to Perform list for the first six weeks of the regular season. In mid-October, he started practicing with the team, but at the end of the three-week period the team had to evaluate him before making the decision of whether or not to activate him to the roster, they opted to put him on the Injured Reserve list. At the time, he started practicing, Hagler told us that "I feel stronger than I did before the surgery. It's my first time running in two years without pain."
Hagler's continued to get into shape, preparing himself for a full season of football and contact after not getting to play in game action since the end of his senior year. And he has no lingering effects from the sports hernia injury. He's ready for action wherever the Colts want him to play.
"I'll really play anywhere, but I'm happy where I am now at weakside linebacker," he said.
After spending a year attending team meetings and learning the middle linebacker position from the playbook, his coaches and starter Gary Brackett, it might have been easier for Hagler this season to stay where he was on the depth chart. But at least this time he's learning a position he's familiar with. He just needs to learn how the Colts want him to play the role in their defensive scheme.
"Sure, it's a little frustrating because I learned a lot about playing in the
middle," he said. "But I'm still very happy to get an opportunity to get on the field and
just to be on the depth chart. I'm really thrilled for the opportunity to get out there and show them what I can do."
Based on what he's learned so far, he'll have some adjustments to make in learning his new position. But he's confident he'll do well and be an asset to the 2006 Colts defense.
"The pass coverage is kind of different because in the alignments and formations there's a lot of movement – way more than what the middle linebacker has to do," he explained. "I talked to Cato about it and he said you just got to relax and it'll come to you. He said it's probably all scrambled up in your mind right now, but once you get out there you'll be fine."