Colts third-round draft pick Freddie Keiaho knew that his first year in the NFL would be a year to refine his skills so that he could execute at a high level in the pro ranks, and to establish himself as a player who could contribute immediately on special teams. And while a preseason knee injury against the Rams derailed that plan temporarily, he returned to the playing field for his first NFL game during Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Keiaho drew the Colts attention prior to the draft with his passion for the game and the way he flew to the ball with a no-holds-barred attitude. And since he's been back in action, they're already seeing glimpses of that in his special teams coverage work over the past three games. Keiaho has made two special teams tackles and two assists during that stretch, despite a knee that still tries to distract him with discomfort, urging him to slow down.
"It's still sore, I'm not one hundred percent, but I'm just trying to get through it," he recently told ColtPower. "The doctors say I'll have to deal with the pain throughout the season, so this week bye week has been good because I got a chance to rest up a little bit."
The strain is limiting Keiaho's ability to make all the cuts that he's normally make, but you can't tell it from his early results on the field. According to the NFL's official stats, he's tied for third on the team in total special teams tackles (solo tackles plus assists) along with Marlin Jackson and fellow rookie Tim Jennings despite missing the first two games of the season.
Keiaho refuses to let the nagging pain slow him down.
"It's just part of the game, you've got to be able to play with a little bit of pain," he said.
And besides, he's thrilled to be playing in the NFL, so that serves as a
great distraction while he's caught up in the emotion of being on center stage
in the middle of the arenas we call football stadiums, happy to be contributing
to the team's success anyway that he can.
"It was crazy running out of the tunnel for my first home game," he recalled. "It was cool to have a big win like that during my first NFL game, especially against Jacksonville; they're a good football team."
While working for the Colts is now the way that Keiaho and his fellow rookies draw a paycheck, it hasn't dulled his excitement for playing the game in the least.
"Five weeks into it, it's still fun. I get to do something that I've wanted to do since I was a little kid and I don't take that for
granted," he said. "But going to practice and meetings everyday, that's not as fun as Sunday.
"You live for Sunday because hearing all of those fans going crazy and being part of the game, that's where it's at. Even though I'm a small part of the game I still really enjoy that."
ColtPower Insiders can click here to enjoy our exclusive Q&A with
Freddy Keiaho where he talks about the games against the Jets and the Titans,
the two big plays the coverage units have allowed in the last two games, his
biggest challenge so far this season, and more! If you're not an Insider yet,
give it a try by clicking the 7-day free trial at the top of the page.