The Herald Bulletin

June 24, 2013

George Bremer: Colts have options at WR


The Herald Bulletin

---- — This is a moment that cries out for the one thing sports commentary lacks most: Patience.

The rush to condemn second-year Colts wide receiver LaVon Brazill on Monday was absolute. And, to be sure, the former Ohio University star did himself few favors.

Brazill will miss the first four games of the regular season after running afoul of the NFL's substance abuse policy, but many fans on Twitter were wondering if he'll ever again wear the horseshoe.

He didn't help matters with a series of tweets that struck an odd tone. Brazill's messages were all positive, with the now standard promises to come back better than ever, but there was a notable lack of contrition.

While he said there's still a smile on his face and promised to love his fans no matter what is tweeted about him, Brazill never apologized to his teammates, the franchise or the city. Instead, as he had fun with an exchange with at least one member of the Indianapolis media, there was an overall feeling that he wasn't taking the whole situation seriously.

That would be a mistake. But so is making sweeping declarations about Brazill's future with training camp still 32 days away.

Even before this transgression, the Colts wanted to see more out of Brazill. They want a better sense that the game is important to him, and that he's striving for greatness.

His suspension won't help. But it might be the opportunity he's provided for others that haunts Brazill more than the reported $112,941 in salary he's cost himself.

Griff Whalen has a history with both quarterback Andrew Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton from their shared days together at Stanford, and Nathan Palmer has consistently drawn praise from daily practice observers this spring.

There's also a chance someone will emerge from a group that includes speedy Jabin Sambrano, 6-foot-6 Jeremy Kelley and undrafted free agent Lanear Sampson.

At the very least Whalen and Palmer will eat into Brazill's preseason reps as the team prepares at least one of them to play the first four weeks of the season. Others could earn extra reps through their performance as well.

And where will that leave Brazill?

He'll need to work harder than ever to prove he can translate his obvious physical gifts into consistent production. But he can only do that until the regular season begins.

Then he'll watch for nearly a month as others attempt to prove they deserve his job.

It's a steep price to pay for a lapse in judgement, but it doesn't have to be fatal to his Indianapolis career.

As the Colts broke their final mini-camp practice two weeks ago, head coach Chuck Pagano told his players not become a distraction during the offseason.

Brazill failed that test. Now he must prove to Pagano and his staff he's worth a second chance.