In the relative calm before the free agency storm, the Colts agreed to a contract extension with exclusive rights free agent linebacker and former CFL All-Star Justin Hickman and promoted defensive quality control coach Brad White to assistant linebackers coach.
Hickman missed all of the 2013 regular season for Indianapolis after a foot injury and subsequent surgery landed him on Injured Reserved back in August. He made a name for himself as a dangerous pass rusher in college and in the CFL and still has a chance of making the roster and providing some good depth for the defense and a playmaker on special teams in 2014. From the Colts press release:
Hickman was originally signed by the Colts as a free agent on February 9, 2012 after spending time in the Canadian Football League. In three seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2009-2011), he recorded 144 tackles, 27.0 sacks and three fumble recoveries. Collegiately, Hickman played three seasons at UCLA and compiled 95 tackles (60 solo), 19.5 sacks and 31 tackles for loss in 35 career games.
The Colts list Hickman simply as a linebacker, although he played on the outside in college, the Arena League, and with the Tiger-Cats, he has played primarily inside linebacker with the Colts.
Hickman faces a stiff competition at the position this preseason with D’Qwell Jackson, Josh McNary, Mario Harvey, Kelvin Sheppard, and another former CFL star, Henoc Muamba all vying to play either alongside or back up Jerrell Freeman. Indianapolis kept five active ILB’s last season, so without any rookies on the roster yet, there are already two players in this group who likely will be cut before opening week.
Brad White, a former Wake Forest Linebacker according to his Colts.com profile, was the inside linebackers coach for the Air Force Academy from 2010-2011 after spending his first three seasons in coaching as a grad assistant for Wake Forest and a safeties coach at Murray State.
From the Colts press release:
White spent the last two seasons (2012-13) as the team’s defensive quality control coach. In 2013, he helped coach a defense that ranked fourth in the AFC in points allowed and eighth in passing yards allowed. The Colts registered 42.0 sacks as a team in 2013, including a league-leading 19.5 from outside linebacker Robert Mathis. Indianapolis also totaled 15 forced fumbles, which ranked fourth in the NFL and second in the AFC. Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman topped 100 tackles for the second straight year (169) and posted career highs in sacks (5.5), forced fumbles (six), fumble recoveries (two), interceptions (two) and passes defensed (six).
In 2012, White assisted a defense that registered 32.0 sacks, 12 interceptions and allowed a 38.1 third down conversion percentage, which ranked eighth in the AFC. The Colts defense returned four interceptions for touchdowns, which was tied for the most in a single season in franchise history. White helped the development of 19 different starters on the defensive side of the ball, including Freeman who joined the team from the CFL during the offseason and set a franchise record for tackles in a season (203).
It’s good to see Hickman get another shot after having a promising preseason derailed by injury last year. White’s promotion, meanwhile, shows that the Colts value his contribution to the linebacking corps, and it opens up an opportunity for someone else to breaking into coaching as a quality control guy.
Things are relatively calm on the Colts news front for now. Stay tuned. Tomorrow could be very interesting. We’ll keep you up to date.