For those who prefer to read the contents of Coltzilla’s phone interview with Colts safety David “DaC” Caldwell, you will find a transcript of the interview after the jump.
Brett Mock – You finally made it, man. You’ve been working your whole life and you finally get to the NFL. How does it feel?
David Caldwell – Actually, it’s a weird feeling. You finally get here, you know, you work your whole life for it — to get to this point. Actually, just to get a shot. Then when you get your shot, it’s like — “okay, I’ve worked all of my life to get a shot.” Then you’ve got to make it [the team]. Then you make it and you’re like, “okay, I’ve worked all of my life and made it.” Now you just want to keep getting better. You want to become the type of player that can stay here. So, your work never stops. You never really get a chance to sit back and say, “I’ve really accomplished something great,” that not a lot of other people have accomplished.
But I try to take some time out and just think about it, and it’s definitely an achievement.
BM – Absolutely, I think it’s great that you made the team and that we had a chance to speak with you — I think we were one of the first ones who represent Colts fans who had an opportunity to talk to you — so I was excited to see that you were successful making it to the team. I think you have a good attitude about it too. Ultimately you’re going to have to continue working, the job is never over like you said.
Did you have chance to celebrate at all with any of your friends and family?
DC – Actually, when I found out that weekend I was down at my college [William and Mary], well at UVA [Virginia] — my college was playing UVA. I thought I would be able to celebrate it with them if we [William and Mary] got another upset like we did a couple of years ago, but it didn’t turn out that way. I was able to hang out with a couple of my friends down there but other than that I haven’t really celebrated with friends and family. My family is coming in town this weekend, so that will be good.
BM – That will be good. I understand that you probably had to get right back to work, it’s funny how that goes.
One of the players we talked about a year ago, one of your heroes, Bob Sanders is somebody you model your game after — how much did you learn from him before he left for San Diego, did you get a chance to work with him a lot?
DC – Yeah, definitely. You can continue to learn by watching his film and watching how he plays the game. It’s just inspiring, you know, motivation to just try to get your game to that type of level. Everybody can see the hard hits and the play-making abilities and stuff like — how he focuses on his assignments, and takes care of his assignments, and he was so good he was also able to cover for other peoples’ mistakes as well.
BM – Do you keep in touch with players like Sanders, or your buddies from training camp last year? I know you were good friends with Donye’ McCleskey and Lambert. If so, how do you keep in touch with those guys?
DC – Yeah. Especially Donye’ and Mike Newton, those are two of my good friends regardless of football. Off of the field, Donye and Jordan [Hemby]. Jordan is one of my close friends, he has come to my house plenty of times in New Jersey. So Jordan Hemby, Mike Newton, and Donye’ are all people I consider friends. I mean, you have your friends on the team, but those are my friends period — just in life. Keeping in touch with them — you know, Mike just got released and Jordan a little before camp, and Donye’ last year, but we all still speak. They still wish the best for me, good luck and everything, and it’s right back to them. I feel the same for them.
I mean, we all understand the nature of the business. As sad as it is, it’s the nature of it. For it to be such a rewarding business there are risks, and the risks are that you may have a job one day and another day you may not. So, it’s hard to deal with but it’s something that you have to, it’s reality.
BM – Well I tell you, you almost had to deal with that — I really worried for you with your injury last year, having to miss all of that time. Are you symptom free? What exactly was it? Do you have any concern about re-injury there?
DC – It was my labrum in my shoulder. I haven’t had any concerns. My doctor performed great surgery. I haven’t had any problems with it at all. If feels great. Now, it’s funny, it feels better than my other shoulder. I go out there confident, it’s not the type of thing where I feel like I have to let up a little bit because I’m scared of using it. I forget that I have had the surgery, honestly. I don’t wear any sleeve or anything.
BM – Well that’s great to hear.
One of the things a lot of fans don’t understand is probably what the task is like, how difficult it is, or what the difficult parts are to trying to come back from an injury. What’s the most aggravating or what’s the most difficult part of that process?
DC – The most difficult part was just being out here all of last year, and it’s like you’re a part of the team but you’re really not though, you know. At the end of the day if you can’t help the team out in practice or on the field, or help and contribute to accomplishing the goal, one way or the other — you know, winning a championship — you’re kind of just feeling like, “I wish I could help these guys on the field.”
Like I said about the nature of the business before, they put me on IR — which I was real fortunate that they did that — but there is no guarantee that you will be back in training camp, you just don’t know. So, it’s the type of thing where you just gotta keep faith — you know, walk by faith, not by sight, necessarily — and take it from there.
BM – Another thing I don’t think fans really have a chance to understand or see, because once a player is placed on injured reserve they kind of disappear in terms of access to media and stuff like that — in what ways do you continue to work, or do people on injured reserve continue to work with the team, if at all? How do you keep in touch and what do you do?
DC – One of the things you can do is every week on Tuesdays they set up — I forget what they’re called — they have different players reach out to the community and go to different organizations and different businesses. I know I went to the Boys and Girls Club. I went to a culinary school that helps underprivileged people get their culinary license. So, you go to different spots and help different people out. I went to a blood drive at Walgreens one time, went to a blood drive at the stadium. So you just try to go out that way and maintain the community service and help out the community in whatever way you can.
BM – Okay, so you continue to be a public face but outside of maybe working with team doctors and stuff like that, you don’t necessarily get in to the facilities a lot. Is that what goes on when you’re on IR?
DC – Exactly. Basically, your job comes to just rehab. That’s your job to just get back and rehab. I mean your interaction with the team, you see the guys and everything but if you’re not practicing with them there’s that void there. You know, you’re there but you’re not there.
BM – So have you settled in at free safety or has the team left things open for you to play either safety position? I know you’ve kind of been wide open on what you can do so I’m just curious if they’ve settled on one place for you.
DC – It’s funny, I’m listed at free safety but I actually play strong. Me and ‘Toine (Antoine Bethea) are listed at free safety I believe, and Bullitt and Joe [Lefeged] are listed at strong safety but it’s actually the opposite. But it’s basically the same thing, you know, in their scheme we could even play sides. You’ve got to know either position, both positions do the same things in our particular schemes. It’s not the situation where you know one and it takes a lot of work to know the other, they’re basically the same thing.
BM – Okay. I have to be honest with you, a little bit of a compliment for you, you looked really comfortable on the field in preseason. I saw you playing really fast, taking some good angles. You came up to make a lot of plays, particularly against the run. I even told my Dad when I talked to him on the phone that you made a play against Cincinnati on Cedric Peerman coming around the edge that reminded me a bit of Bob Sanders. So, I was like, “man, you just came from out of nowhere,” Peerman tried to come around the edge and Caldwell was like, “nope.” That was pretty awesome, so nice work on that.
DC – I appreciate that.
BM – One of the most common comments from rookies is that the speed of the game is a huge adjustment and you didn’t have an opportunity much of last year to really prepare yourself and work because you didn’t have preseason activities and stuff like that. After you missed last year with an injury, how did you come out this season ready to play at that speed when so many others struggle?
DC – You know, a lot of people, even coming from a small school, that was one of the biggest things they were discussing, “can you adjust to the speed.” Coming from a small school and then going to the NFL. I’ve never really had that difficult adjustment. Once you get out on the football field it just seems like all of the 4.2s (40-yard dash times), 4.3s, all of that Combine stuff kind of goes out the window and it’s just football. If the guy’s fast, the guy’s fast. But your body is just going to naturally adjust, in most cases.
I guess I am fortunate that I didn’t have to really go through that even with this off-season, the lockout. Can’t do OTAs and stuff like that. You know, I was a little concerned about coming right back after the shoulder surgery. I mean, before that, I hadn’t actually tackled anybody since my last college game, so that was a little bit of a concern — because in training camp we don’t really tackle. It was a little bit of a concern but I thought if I came out with the mindset, if I just run to the ball and try to hit as hard as I can then I’ll be fine. Run to the ball as fast as I can and adjust to everything else as it comes.
You might make a few mistakes here and there but at the end of the day I would rather mess up going 100% than being unsure and look like I really don’t know what I’m doing, just caught in between.
BM – How much have you worked with Joe Lefeged in training camp and preseason? Have you guys bonded since cuts came out and you both are kind of first-year players together? How is your relationship with Joe?
DC – Definitely. Joe is a cool dude. That’s the one thing about the Colts team. I feel like I can only speak for our defensive backs, in the secondary everybody is cool and even though you’re competing with everybody it’s pretty much the type of situation where, we understand that business but you want to help. Especially the older guys, they do a good job of showing the example of everybody helping each other out.
I mean, you’re in the same position at the end of the day. A lot of times you look around and everybody is thinking the same thing, like this is a little complicated — and the next person will say, “yeah, I was thinking the same thing.” It’s the type of thing where you’re in the same boat, so there’s no point in having a big rivalry. We’re all competing against each other but helping each other along the way as well.
BM – The loss in Houston has to be difficult for the team. It’s so used to winning. How have the players responded? I mean, it’s gotta be different in the locker room.
DC – I think you’d be surprised. With the amount of older leadership that we have on our team, with those guys that have been around for so long, it’s just a game. And even though you say that we haven’t lost like that for awhile, it’s just a game. Every week that you play in the NFL, if you have a little bit of a bad game it can magnify into the type of game we played last week. So, we are just looking at it like that.
I mean, it’s a 16 week season. You have 16 one-week seasons, that’s how we look at it so every week it’s almost like a new season. You can’t worry about what happened last week, all you can do is move forward. Then, at the end of seventeen weeks, count up your wins and hopefully you have enough to move on to the next phase, the playoffs.
BM – I know during the game, going into half time down 34 to nothing, I’m curious to know, what did Coach Caldwell — and the running joke between me and some of my friends is that he’s your Dad, it must be pretty cool to play for your Dad *laughs shared* — but anyway, what did he say at half time to prepare you guys to go back out there? A lot of times we don’t get the chance to see, when he talks to the mainstream media, that he has a personality and I’m sure there are things that you see in the locker room or at half time that we don’t. What did he say?
DC – You know, Coach Caldwell is a really good coach as far as recognizing what you need to say to a team, and just motivating the team. Where a lot of other coaches, just like a lot of players, we were angry that we were down 34-0 and some coaches will just come screaming at you. That’s not really the Colts’ style. I mean as far as coach Tony Dungy — from what I’ve heard — and from what I’ve seen of Coach Caldwell. He just tries to say to you exactly what is going to help you for the next half.
It’s kind of like, we’re not going to yell and scream all about the Houston game this week, because you’re not going to focus on the Cleveland game. Basically, the mindset of the team was that they scored 34 on us the first half, alright now we’ve got to go score 34 +1 on them the next half. He just keeps our confidence up, so that’s definitely a good thing.
BM – What about players? There’s gotta be some players who have a bigger presence than others in the locker room trying to inspire teammates. Is there a spark plug player that comes to mind that, here’s a guy that always tries to get us fired up? I don’t know if you had any experience with that at half time.
DC – From what I’ve seen, the type of thing the Colts try to do is to lead more by example. Not necessarily by a whole lot of “rah rah,” and all of that getting excited in the locker room because the game is played on the field. It’s the type of things where a lot of guys, you know, you want to get somebody hyped up — go make a play. Lead by example. That’s the type of thing where I feel like the Colts culture has turned into. It has been for awhile.
I wouldn’t say that anybody in the locker room necessarily stands out, but a lot of guys go out there on the field and make plays, which inspires everybody else to make plays.
BM – One of the most popular and effective offenses in the NFL right now, is one that is predicated primarily on the short passing game and utilizing athletic pass-catching tight ends in the middle of the field. I think the Colts and Manning actually had a big influence on the transition to that really quick passing game. How do you prepare to be effective against that kind offense in a Cover-2 scheme?
DC – You know, we’re going to play Cover-2 and there’s other coverages that we mix in and stuff like that. And being base Cover-2, well, I guess we — are we considered a Cover-2 defense?
BM – Tampa-2, Cover-2, is the one I think most people…
DC – The old school Tampa-2, we ran it in college as well. I mean there’s different things that you can do. The thing about it is that we get to prepare against one of the best offenses in the league every week so that’s an advantage right there.
BM – Is that something that safeties are primarily responsible for, those guys coming up the seams — especially those tight ends?
DC – It depends on the coverage. It really just depends. I mean, I don’t want to give too much because I don’t want any Cleveland fans and Cleveland coaches listening.
BM – When Colts fans see the big 3-5 yard cushions on the outside, is that a part of the scheme usually or are receivers just making really good plays to get separation? When there’s that separation like that.
DC – 3-5 what?
BM – Cushion, just the space in between the DBs on the outside. Is that how you are taught? Because I know you also played cornerback as well, and I just think fans need to know, is that what you guys are supposed to do, or are opponent wide receivers making good plays, you know what I mean?
DC – That’s the type of thing that’s more situational. I mean, I’m sure you could point out some situations where less of a cushion would have been the better thing but I mean that’s just situational. Depending on the defense, that depends on the mount of cushion. Depending on who you’re playing, a bunch of facts factor in it.
BM – Okay. I just have a few more David and I will let you get off of here. One of the things that is a really big deal, it’s been talked about a lot coming into this season. It’s always been common practice for non-starters to play a significant role on special teams but in 2011 the rules have changed. We’re seeing significantly more touch backs on kickoffs than we have before.
How does this effect your perspective as a football player who normally would have more chances to make plays and would constantly be like, “okay we have to get this guy, because he is going to be returning it.” Is there a tendency at all, is there a concern at all for you, or do you pick it up from your teammates that there is a propensity to fall asleep on kick coverage because it’s just so common at this point for those kickoffs to go into the end zone and for them to be touch backs instead of returns?
DC – I guess naturally there would be, but our coaches do a good job of instilling in us that, regardless of whether it is a touch back or not, you better keep running and run through like you’re covering the kicks. I mean, you get graded on how far and how hard you’re running down.
It’s the type of thing where I really don’t have a particular feeling on one side or the other about the kick returns. As a fan, I like to see guys run back kick and stuff — it’s an exciting part of the game to see somebody like Devin Hester and other kick returners. But I believe it was a change made for safety and whatever other reasons, so we just go with the flow.
BM – So how does it feel to have your first game under your belt?
DC – It feels good, but it just feels like we’ve gotta get better the next game. *laughs*
BM – *laughs* Not the most satisfying first game you could sign up for huh?
DC – Yeah. I feel like I will have this same feeling, however long I am fortunate enough to keep playing, I think I’ll have the same feeling after every game. Eh, last game is last game. I just got to make sure I get better for the next game.
BM – Right. Well, hey, we know you’re a movie guy and just to share some of that personality and how much you love movies — which I know every summer you’re kind of busy but you try to get out and catch them when you can.
DC – Yeah, definitely.
BM – What’s your top film in theaters in 2011? The favorite one you’ve seen this year?
DC – 2011? Ah, alright well I’ve gotta throw Fast Five out there. I really liked that movie this year. I thought that was the best Fast and Furious. That’s one hands down.
There was another movie that I’m forgetting but I just saw Columbiana. Columbiana was good. I know I’m missing a really good one. It just came out as a matter of fact, like a month ago. I forget. I’ll throw out Fast Five, it was another action movie that came out. But I see so much of them, I just went yesterday to see The Help… so I see so much of them sometimes I lose count myself.
BM – *laughs* Sometimes I have the exact same problems. I have friends who ask me, “well, what’s your favorite movie.” I’m always laugh. I’m like, “I dunno, depends on what mood I’m in, ask me tomorrow and it will be different.”
DC – Exactly. I’m definitely going to check that Lion King out though. Lion King 3D comes out Friday.
BM – *laughs* There you go, there you go.
DC – I will definitely be in there though. Before the game I will definitely be sure, by Sunday, that I see my Lion King movie because it is only in theaters two weeks so hopefully I can check it out.
Coltzilla would like to extend another thank you DaC for taking time out of his Wednesday evening to chat with us. We hope you enjoyed the interview and look forward to any comments or questions you want to share in the comments below.