The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Colts

December 15, 2013

Colts GameDay: Hard work ahead for Rogers

INDIANAPOLIS — Incredibly, for Da’Rick Rogers, the hard part might be just beginning.

The undrafted rookie traveled a long road — with many obstacles of his own creation — to last week’s breakout game at Cincinnati. After catching six passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals, the stakes have been raised.

An Indianapolis Colts offense that has sputtered through fits and starts in six games without veteran Reggie Wayne desperately needs a big-play wide receiver. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Rogers, meanwhile, is desperate to prove he can stick in the NFL.

As difficult as Rogers’ journey was to get to this point, it could be even harder to stay there.

“It’s a blessing to be here,” he said by his locker earlier this week at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. “Once you get here, it’s an honor. It’s definitely an opportunity, not a job or a career. You’ve got to come fight for your job every day.”

It’s a battle Rogers has fought well thus far.

His days begin early and end late with extra work alongside receivers coach Charlie Williams outside of practice. It’s a routine Rogers has followed diligently since being released by the Buffalo Bills at the end of the preseason Aug. 26 and signed by the Colts seven days later.

Indianapolis threw a lifeline to Rogers’ fledgling pro career, and he’s being asked in turn to help rescue the Colts. In truth, he makes for an unlikely hero.

Immaturity, not a lack of talent, slowed Rogers’ climb. He was a high school star in Georgia and had a breakout sophomore season at the University of Tennessee before coming untracked.

His fall reportedly included three failed drug tests with the Vols. The school never provided an official reason for suspending him for his junior season, but the receiver himself owned up to the test results at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

Sterling numbers after a transfer to Tennessee Tech did little to assuage fears, and Rogers slipped through all seven rounds of April’s draft. When he caught just two passes for 12 yards — ironically including a 6-yard touchdown at Lucas Oil Stadium — in four preseason games with the Bills, the receiver was beginning to look like a waste of potential.

That changed in Indianapolis, where his work ethic never waned despite spending most of his time simulating opposing offenses on the practice squad.

Before last week, the highlight of Rogers’ NFL career was drawing a 26-yard pass interference penalty against Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner during a win on Dec. 1.

With added snaps in place of struggling Darrius Heyward-Bey last Sunday, he took the second reception of his career 69 yards for a touchdown on a slant pattern over the middle of the Bengals’ defense.

“It feels like it did in my dreams,” Rogers said. “Great, amazing, everything I could imagine. But it felt good to finally see the hard work that you put in, overcoming ... It’s something to build on.”

The challenge now is to replicate that success.

Since Wayne’s injury Oct. 20 against Denver, defenses have been sending extra coverage over the top to T.Y. Hilton’s side of the field in an attempt to contain the Colts’ lone remaining big-play threat.

Rogers — and second-year receiver LaVon Brazill, who caught three passes for 53 yards and two scores during the 42-28 loss at Cincinnati — could help alleviate that problem if they can sustain last week’s performances.

Of course, Rogers and Brazill now will have to deal with defensive changes of their own.

“Teams will try to game plan for you, do things to try to take you away,” said Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson, a six-time Pro Bowler who will line up against the Colts today. “A lot of times, you just have to learn and adjust on the fly. It’s definitely tough week in and week out and try to put up those big numbers. I’d just tell them to stay focused on what they’re doing and keep working hard at their craft.”

With all the twists and turns Rogers’ football life has taken, it’s easy to forget he’s still just 22 years old. He has an opportunity to “make himself necessary,” as head coach Chuck Pagano likes to say, in Indianapolis.

He has a chance to fulfill the potential that once made him a rising star in the nation’s most demanding college football conference.

He has a chance, finally, to find an NFL home.

“He got a second chance, and he’s taken advantage of the opportunity that this organization has given him,” Pagano said. “Now it’s a matter of handling success. And that’s something that we’ll continue to talk to him daily about.”

1
Text Only
Colts
  • SPT - HB0422 - Bremer mug George Bremer: Holmes becomes center of attention Khaled Holmes already was shaping up as one of the more interesting players to watch on the Indianapolis Colts' roster this summer. With Phil Costa's decision to retire on Monday, Holmes becomes one of the most vital.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0322 - Grigson art Grigson happy with offseason additions Though he stopped just short of declaring his shopping spree over, Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson made it clear Friday he's happy with the team's offseason haul.

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0318 - Bremer mug George Bremer: Irsay's plight not about football Jim Irsay has a problem.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • George Bremer-2.JPG George Bremer: Irsay's plight not about football

    Jim Irsay has a problem.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_irsaymugshot.jpg Colts owner Jim Irsay arrested

    Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested Sunday night in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Carmel on preliminary charges of driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance, Hamilton County Sheriff's Department Deputy Bryant Orem said.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0316 - Nicks photo Nicks betting deal with Colts will pay off Hakeem Nicks is betting on himself. The 25-year-old wide receiver with a Super Bowl ring and a long injury history from five years with the New York Giants chose a fresh start in Indianapolis because he believes the pieces are in place for the franchise to make a long postseason run.

    March 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0315 - Nicks art Colts add WR Nicks on one-year deal The Indianapolis Colts wide receiver corps was severely depleted in the second half of the 2013 season. On Friday, the franchise bought an insurance policy for this fall.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0314 - Jones art Colts DL Jones comes from fighting family If nothing else, Arthur Jones is up for a fight. Most older brothers are confident they can best their younger siblings. But it jumps to another level when the younger brother is UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones.

    March 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0313 - Alex Mack Colts quiet on free agency's second day Wednesday was relatively quiet for the Indianapolis Colts, as general manager Ryan Grigson appeared content to let the market settle on Day 2 of free agency before making his next move.

    March 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0312 - Arthur Jones art Colts' focus mainly internal on Day 1 Ryan Grigson crossed his top offseason priority off the list Tuesday as the Indianapolis Colts spent the first day of NFL free agency largely retaining their own talent.

    March 11, 2014 2 Photos

Colts Video
Twitter Updates
Reader Photos From Camp


Share your camp photos with us.

Colts Camp Webcast Archive