Colts Q&A With Gary Brackett

ColtPower's Ed Thompson talked to Colts starting linebacker Gary Brackett about training camp, changes in the linebacker corps, playing middle linebacker in the Cover 2 scheme and more in this exclusive interview!

Ed Thompson: Is there anything you dread about training camp each year?

Gary Brackett: Just the soreness, just because the volume of work you get, your body is going to get sore. It's a necessary evil because during the year and during the first, second week of the season, the type of training camp that you had sets the stage for what type of condition you're in for those games. So if you have a good training camp, it'll translate into big games at the beginning of the year.

ET: You've got to be excited that you've got practically your entire defensive unit back, but you did lose David Thornton to Tennessee. How big of a loss is that to this defense?

GB: I think David will be a big loss -- not only his ability to play football, but his ability to lead. He was also our defensive captain, he was also our locker room leader. He was a guy that I respected a great deal and I think everyone in the Colts organization respected. But I think every year we've lost a linebacker since I've been here and we were able to re-mold and count on someone else from the linebacker group to step up and really fill in. Thus far, everyone has done a great job. This year that hat is on Gilbert Gardner. He had a great offseason for us. He's been working out hard and I think he's ready to step and make some plays for us."

ET: Freddie Keiaho told me in an interview earlier this summer that you've been a great help to him, especially in learning how to play the middle linebacker role in the nickel. What are your initial impressions of Freddie?

GB: Freddie is definitely a capable linebacker, very fast, very aggressive. He's one of Coach Dungy's style of players -- fast, not too big, but can move and can make a play. I think Freddie is going to do great for us, initially I think mainly on special teams. He reminds me a little bit of me -- the same capacity, the same speed and same aggressiveness of wanting to go out there and make a play. So I took a liking to Freddie and I tried to help him out and help him get over some hurdles. I just want to see him perform very well for us this year.

ET: The Colts rotate defensive tackles frequently during the game -- Corey Simon, Montae Reagor, Raheem Brock. Does that make your job tougher for you in any way with personnel changes going on like that right in front of you?

GB: No, I think if anything it makes it easier. The reason they switch jobs is so that they can stay fresh throughout the game, and just having a fresh group of guys makes it harder for the offensive line to get to that second level -- and to get to me. So I love when those guys come in fresh. We don't skip a beat with any of those guys. I'd go into the fire with any of them. I'm very confident in their ability; they're very productive for us.

ET: Robert Mathis is going to be an every-down left defensive end this year. How big of a help is that going to be to this defense?

GB: I think its going to be a huge help. Robert Mathis is a very capable defensive end just in the passing game alone. I think over the last couple of years he's had double-digit sacks, so just bringing that ability and his athleticism in on every down is going to help. Some of the plays that he can make are just amazing -- how he runs to the football and how he gets out there and flies around and makes plays.

ET: Are there many differences as to how you approach the middle linebacker position in a Cover 2 defense then other schemes?

GB: Not necessarily. We are a Cover 2 style defense, but we do a lot of other things. But of course in a Cover 2 the middle linebacker has to have the ability to make some plays down the field behind you, and you can't give up that middle of the field to the offense. You just have to run knowing that people are counting on you to get back there.

ET: Lets put you on the field mentally for a moment. The offense approaches the line they get in their initial formation, what's going through Gary Brackett's mind where are you looking what are you doing?

GB: First of all I have to get the call from the sideline. Then I turn around and I look at the offensive formation, and their formation helps determine whether we're going to adjust our defense or not. But after I get all that adjusted, get the defensive line lined up, make the call to the secondary, then I'm just looking at pre-snap for any formation, any tackle that's leaning and anything that could really tip off running backs.

ET: Many people in the media are asking how the Colts can regroup again and get inspired after a few years of playoffs without making it to the Super Bowl. What's the talk amongst the team so far this year that has all of you mentally and emotionally prepared for another run at it?

GB: We define ourselves no matter what we did the last two seasons. 2006 is a new season. We have the ability to define ourselves with how we take what we do in training camp and then correlate and transfer that into the regular season. Everyone is excited, everyone is ready and truly believes that we can go out there as a team and have that same level of confidence we had the last couple of years.

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