INDIANAPOLIS – The shirts that define disrespect in NFL circles can still be seen occasionally around the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Back in 2012, the Colts found themselves at the bottom of the NFL when it came to preseason power rankings.
Spot No. 32 was where the Colts appeared and with that printed on the back of blue t-shirts, the motivation began for a season that ended with 11 victories and a playoff appearance.
The power rankings and preseason predictions are starting to pick up steam in 2014 and the Colts are a far cry from being at the bottom of any t-shirt.
While expectations on the inside of the complex have not changed since 2012, perception on the outside views the Colts among one of the league’s top teams.
Nate Davis of USA Today (who correctly picked Seattle and Denver before last season) has coined the Colts as his choice to represent the AFC in the 2015 Super Bowl.
Colts 13-3 (1): Return of
Reggie Wayne, favorable schedule give them great shot at third AFC title in nine years.
The Colts have gone from the chaser to being chased but that hasn’t impacted the mindset inside the locker room.
“I mean that’s our goal. That’s our expectation,”
“We set lofty goals and I definitely think we can achieve them.”
He left with a pair of BCS bowl appearances and is no stranger to playing under a wave of differing outside opinions.
“Yeah, I mean I guess you’d rather have a positive outlook,” Fleener says of a potential “target” on the Colts back.
“I don’t think it really matters if USA Today put us first, last, somewhere in the middle. It’s not going to change how we prepare.”
In the offseason, the two reigning AFC finalists in Denver and New England both made some significant moves in free agency.
The Colts were a bit quieter, knowing they had their own additions in a handful of offensive starters lost in 2013.
One free agent signee came in the form of 337-pound
Jones was highly sought after by the Colts to improve an inconsistent rush defense.
On the flip side, Jones wanted a type of atmosphere that has real desires to play deep into winter.
“It’s just a whole bunch of guys that want greatness, want championships and really believe and bought into this program,” Jones says of the Colts.
“That’s one of the main reasons why I’m here, to help win and do whatever it takes to get another championship and hoist that trophy again. There’s no better feeling, I’ll tell you.”