By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Defensive lineman Tyler Brayton got something of a rough introduction to the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday night.
For his first practice, the newly signed free agent was asked to suit up in full pads in front of an estimated 9,000 fans at Macholtz Stadium.
Perhaps it’s a testament to Brayton’s competitiveness that the former first-round pick appeared to love it.
“It was neat,” he said after Wednesday’s afternoon workout. “I was a little rusty. I hadn’t played football all offseason because of obviously the labor situation, and then (I had) just to walk in here and be full pads ready to go. But, I don’t know. I like starting that way. That’s how we start every year in training camp.”
Brayton has been under the spotlight since his first day in the NFL.
The Oakland Raiders selected him with the last pick of the first round of the 2003 draft. That’s the selection the team received from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as compensation for signing away head coach Jon Gruden.
Brayton was the second of two first-rounders for the Raiders that year. The other was cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who became a four-time Pro Bowler before signing as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles this summer.
Brayton’s Raiders career was less celebrated.
He started 31 games and recorded 106 tackles and five sacks in his first two seasons. But in his final three years in Oakland, Brayton started just 16 games with 69 tackles and one sack.
He got a fresh start in 2008 with the Carolina Panthers, but not before briefly considering joining the Colts.
“I took a trip here, and things just didn’t quite work out,” he said. “But I definitely had a lot of respect from them then, and it just wasn’t in the cards.”
Brayton was productive with the Panthers. He started 45 of the 46 games he appeared in and posted the two highest sack totals of his career — 4.5 in 2008 and 5 in 2009.
But he went sackless last season, and Carolina let him go on July 29.
He said Wednesday he was more than happy to land in Indianapolis.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” he said. “I mean, shoot, it’s the Colts, man. It’s a great organization and a great team to play on.”
He’s barely been in Anderson long enough to introduce himself to his new teammates. So he’s not quite ready to define his role with the team. But he’s shown the ability in the past to play both defensive tackle and defensive end.
“At Carolina, I played inside and outside,” Brayton said. “So I kind of foresee something like that as well here.”
Asked what drew him to the Colts, Brayton responded with just one word: Winning.
He said he’ll do anything it takes to contribute to the team’s success. And he’s thankful for the folks in the front office who believed in him enough to put a horseshoe on his helmet.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity,” he said. “I’m really grateful for my opportunity here, and I look to prove some people right and do my best.”