Brackett Continues to Make His Mark in Indy

Gary Brackett was told he was too small to succeed at practically every level of football. But the people who said that couldn't see the size of his heart. Now he's ready to lead the Colts defense into a new season as their captain.

Many undrafted free agents will try to make the Colts final roster this season. The odds are against them, as usually not more than two or three survive the process each summer as the camps close and the real season begins. But starting middle linebacker Gary Brackett was one of those unusual players who found a way to command the attention of the Colts coaches and worked his way up the depth chart to a starter's role last season.

"The main thing is just perseverance," Brackett said when asked how he did it. "During that time I went through a lot of trials and tribulations. So having your mindset on one goal -- and just everything that you do is directed towards that goal -- worked out for me."

Although many people in the media and amongst the fan base doubted his ability to be physical enough at the middle linebacker position, Brackett simply refused to listen to them.

"I've been hearing the ‘too small' thing since I started playing football, so I'm at a point right now where I feel as though I don't have to prove anything to anybody about my size and my ability," the 5-foot-11, 235-pound linebacker told ColtPower. "The coaches believed in me, Coach Dungy gave me the opportunity to go out there and perform -- and that's what I do."

Brackett made his mark during the first two seasons on special teams after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers. But now he rarely sees any special teams action. And unlike many other players, he actually misses it.

"I was a special teamer, so coming from that area I have a great appreciation for special teams," he said. "When a punter is about to come on, some guys will walk to the bench, but I'm right there on the sideline. I want to see everything happen. I just stay and encourage those guys because I know that special teams is one-third of a game."

Despite the danger of having highly-skilled and athletic players throwing their bodies around at top speed and from all angles, Brackett explained what he loves most about special teams play.

"A special teams play is about three or four times longer than any defensive play just by its nature," he said. It's usually 50 to 60 yards you're covering, and it's usually just an all-out sprint trying to either prevent someone from getting to the ball or getting to the ball yourself. Just having that ability to run free like that for that long, it's just a great feeling."

Even though Brackett and weakside linebacker Cato June are only entering their fourth season in the NFL, they find themselves in an odd position entering this year's training camp. The pair are the elder statesmen of the Colts linebacker corps. And Brackett was just recently voted the team's defensive captain for the upcoming season.

"Its kind of odd, but the system that we play in is relatively easy," he said. "We don't do a lot of things, but what we do, we do well. So it's just about echoing to the rest of those guys that we've come out here to work. We're one of the most aggressive, fastest defenses in the National Football League, and that's because of all the practicing we do. So me and Cato just want set a good example and let the younger guys follow."

Brackett's enthusiasm for the game of football and his dedication is indeed infectious. And he can't wait to get another season of Colts football underway.

"I'm very excited, very anxious to get into the stadium and have another great season in front of our fans," he said. "I think they're the best in the league."

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