Colts Q&A With Antoine Bethea

Ed Thompson talked to exciting rookie Antoine Bethea this week about his experiences over the past six games, including which running backs and receivers have really wowed him. Find out what he did with his time off during the bye, why the run defense is improving, and more in this exclusive interview!

Ed Thompson: You're a rookie with six starts under your belt with a team that's sitting at 6-0; did you ever imagine things would go this well?

Antoine Bethea: Not initially, my main goal at first was just being on the team and contributing any way that I could and it's a blessing getting started at 6-0 as a rookie.

ET: I don't know if there are many other rookies that have gotten six starts right out of the chute like you have. How do you keep that from being a very heady experience for you?

AB: Well at one point in time that was everybody's goal, to come in and start. And just being able to come in as a rookie and start, I'm thinking just keep doing what you're doing that got you to this point. So that's what I want to do.

ET:  Did you get to enjoy yourself a little bit during the bye week?

AB: Yeah, I enjoyed myself. I got some time to go back up to school (Howard University) and see my old coaches and teammates, so I enjoyed myself.

ET: Did they have a game the week you were there?

AB: Yeah, it was homecoming as a matter of fact, but it was good just to see my old teammates.

ET: Since you were at Howard University, were you a guy who watched the Redskins a lot while you were there?

AB: Not really, a lot of people asked me that since I was in the D.C. area. And I would get the same thing growing up living in the Virginia area. Growing up I was a Forty-Niners fan. So as far as the Redskins, I really didn't keep up with them as much as people thought I would.

ET: Why were you a Forty-Niners fan?

AB: Growing up they were the team that was always on TV and a lot of people were always talking about players on the team -- Steve Young and Jerry Rice. And growing up I just stuck with them.

ET: What was going through your mind, this past weekend, as you saw Redskins running back Clinton Portis coming down the field knowing that you were probably the last guy who could stop him?

 AB: Clinton Portis is a great running back. The coaches told me, "once they get to you, just get them down," so that's what I was trying to do. Then we were just fortunate enough to buckle down and stop them in three downs and then they missed the kick. As a safety that's what you do back there.  When they do get to you, you've got to just get the runner down and get ready for the next play.

ET: You've now had to tackle some fine running backs out there. Who have been a couple of the guys that you would say were tough to bring down?

AB: Oh, Brandon Jacobs (pictured, right) of the New York Giants.

ET: Yeah, he's a beast isn't he?

AB: Yeah, he's big. But all of the running backs in the league are really good running backs. Travis Henry with the Titans, Tiki Barber as well and every week there's going to be a running back there who runs hard and is fast, so every week you gotta bring your big-boy pads.

ET: Another guy you had to take care of on quite a few plays was Maurice Jones-Drew and I know you guys have the same agent, Adisa Bakari, so did you guys get to talk at all before or after the game?

AB: Yeah, we talked after the game. Like you said, we have the same agent so we talked after the game and we had a good game. Coming in the '06 rookie class I mean, we're competing, but at the same time we're all dealing with the same situation and it's good to see your peers doing well.

ET: I don't know if you happened to see it, but I interviewed Maurice before that game and towards the end I asked him if there was anything else he wanted to say. And he said he wanted to talk a little trash to you, saying that you guys would find out who the better client was for Adisa by the end of that game. He said you and Adisa would know he was just having some fun with that though.

AB: (laughs) I didn't get to see that one. He didn't say anything about it when I saw him; it's all fun-and-games though.

ET:  What do you think were the biggest factors in the improvement we saw in the run defense after the bye week?

AB: Our focus was mainly on tackling. Anthony McFarland came in and you could tell it made a difference.  All year we've been running hard and we've been hitting, but it's a group effort with the coaches and the players and we're just coming out really wanting to make a difference, stopping the run and forcing teams to pass. One of the strengths on our team as far as linebackers and our secondary is we feel as though we can make plays and then let Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis come off the ends and get to their quarterback. So that was our main thing, just stopping the run and making teams drop back and pass on us and then we can really go after them at that point.

ET: What does Anthony McFarland bring to the defensive line that's going to be of help to you guys?

AB: He's a veteran, he's coming from Tampa Bay when Coach Dungy was there and we're basically running the same defense -- so there wasn't much he had to come in and learn.  So he knows the defense and he can clog that middle up.

ET: Talk about your experience in this defense. From your perspective, is there really any difference between playing the two safety spots?

AB: Not really. The free safety sits in the box more than the strong safety, but both safeties can play both positions. They really have the same concept, just come down and hit.

ET: Who are a couple of the pass receivers you've faced so far that have really wowed you?

AB: So far, Plaxico (Burress, Giants) and Laveranues (Coles, Jets)  were the two that have done well against us. But I've been impressed with many others, but those were the two who have really stood out so far.

ET: Are you glad you're playing this weekend's game in Denver now, or do you like playing in the snow (laughs)?

AB: Oh no, I don't enjoy playing in the snow (laughs).  I was already talking about that with my teammates. We really only have one cold game this year, that'll be next week at New England. And after that we have five home games and the rest of our games are down south, so me and some of the other players were saying they did a good job with the schedule this year.

ET: Anything else I can pass on to the fans for you right now?

AB: Just look out for me ... and hopefully I'll have even better stories come Super Bowl time.

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