ANDERSON, Ind. — Early in Sunday’s afternoon practice, safety Antoine Bethea took a lateral following an interception by Tom Zbikowski and began sprinting downfield.
Once he’d cleared the muddle of offensive players in front of him, Bethea heard large footsteps behind him. He slowed and made a lateral of his own to 6-foot-4, 315-pound defensive end Cory Redding, who took a few more quick steps, jumped and spiked the ball into the grass.
It’s safe to say Bethea, a two-time Pro Bowler entering his seventh season with the Indianapolis Colts, quickly is forming a bond with his new teammates.
“We’re excited,” Bethea said following the morning practice at Anderson University, speaking about a defense that could include both aforementioned former Baltimore Ravens as starters. “We had good OTAs, finished up strong. To be back out here, first day of training camp, guys are excited. Get a little bit of the cobwebs out, coming back from the month off, but I’m pretty sure when we get out here this afternoon and get full speed, they’ll be a lot more intensity.”
Defensive back Korey Lindsey, another offseason addition, also picked off quarterback Andrew Luck during the afternoon practice. The turnovers marked the first two times Luck has been intercepted during practice since joining the Colts in April.
But, if past is prologue, Indianapolis defensive backs could be getting their hands on a lot of footballs this fall.
Head coach Chuck Pagano has had something of a magic touch with defensive backs.
When Pagano was the defensive backs coach for the Cleveland Browns in 2001, Anthony Henry led the NFL with 10 interceptions. All-Pro safety Ed Reed had nine interceptions in 2008 and eight in 2010 with Pagano as his defensive backs coach in Baltimore.
Last season, with Pagano as defensive coordinator, the Ravens picked off