INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday likely felt like a long day for many members of the Indianapolis Colts.
But for safety Delano Howell, it was a physical reality.
One of just three healthy players at his position to start the game, the second-year defender from Stanford was on the field for the duration. He led the team with 11 tackles and had one of the Colts' three pass deflections.
For a player who appeared in just one regular season game while spending time with two teams in 2012, it was a welcome chance to catch the coaching staff's eyes.
"It was definitely a big opportunity," Howell said. "And the coaches, they told me, 'Hey, look, you've got a big opportunity in front of you so make sure you take advantage of it.' I tried to do the best I could."
Howell flew around the field for most of the afternoon, displaying some of the physicality the coaching staff has been asking for throughout training camp. He also just missed an interception after jumping a route deep in his own territory in the second quarter.
But Howell wasn't ready to declare his play a success just yet.
"It's never perfect," he said. "There's some good things I did, there's some bad things. I'm gonna go look at the film. Coaches always say it's never as bad as it looks, it's never as good as it looks. So I'll be able to tell after we go look at the film as a team, see what the coaches think."
Howell spent most of his rookie season on the Bills' practice squad before being signed away by Indianapolis late in the year. Upon his arrival in the Circle City, he was greeted by a host of familiar faces from his college days — quarterback Andrew Luck, tight end Coby Fleener and wide receiver Griff Whalen.
The Colts added former Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton this offseason, giving the locker room even more of a Cardinal flavor.
"It feels like a dream come true being able to come back and play with Luck, Griffin and Fleener. Even Coach Pep is here," Howell said. "Definitely when I made that transition, they helped me a lot. Luck invited me over, spent a lot of time with me. But even all the other guys on the team, they accepted me very quickly. I think they've got great leadership on this team, and the transition wasn't difficult at all. It was very smooth."
Howell said it was fun to see familiar faces across the field Sunday, and it didn't feel odd playing against friends at all.
But there was little pretty in the 44-20 loss, and he's anxious to get back out on the practice fields at Anderson University and begin correcting the mistakes.
"You gotta look at this game, analyze it, see where you can improve and build on it for the next game," Howell said. "That's really what preseason's all about, just making sure you go through those imperfections."