By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
The play midway through Monday afternoon’s full-pads practice looked for all intents and purposes to be a simple end-around.
Rookie wide receiver LaVon Brazill took a pitch from backup quarterback Drew Stanton and headed off toward the left. But he stopped abruptly just past the tackle and looked downfield.
Fourth-year wide receiver Austin Collie was sprinting wide-open down the right sideline, and Brazill hit him in stride with a nearly textbook-perfect pass.
It was that kind of day for the rising youngster from Ohio University who seems never to run out of new tricks to show the Indianapolis Colts and their fans.
“It’s been great, man,” Brazill said of his first professional training camp. “No school work, none of that. Just focus on the grind and keep working hard every day and just staying focused.”
Like heralded quarterback Andrew Luck, Brazill was forced to sit out all spring while waiting for his class at OU to graduate. He made the most of his downtime, hooking up with Luck as often as possible to work on timing and chemistry.
“We’ve been working hard in the offseason,” Brazill said. “I actually went out there to Cali, to Stanford with him, and worked out with him to get our timing up. We also did a little work at Butler University so I think our chemistry is close. But I want to build that chemistry a little closer.”
The Florida native set six school records at Ohio, including single-season marks with 1,146 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He also was a feared punt returner and was listed as the starter at that position and for kickoff returns on the team’s first depth chart Monday evening.
“Special teams is everything,” Brazill said. “That’s what you make the team from. We’ve got (three) great receivers, Austin Collie and Reggie (Wayne) and Donnie Avery. We have them. They’re going to be our guys. I’m trying to make my mark as that special teams player.”
He’s doing pretty well as a receiver, too.
Brazill has opened eyes and wowed fans with an assortment of one-handed catches, but he’s also shown the consistency coaches love. No dropped passes immediately spring to mind after more than a full week of practices, and his pure speed is extremely difficult to ignore.
He blew past cornerback Korey Lindsey on Monday and pulled in a 70-yard touchdown pass from Luck. And he’s earned a seal of approval from the dean of Colts wide receivers, 12th-year veteran Wayne.
Asked last week who would win a 40-yard dash between rookie T.Y. Hilton and Avery, Wayne went off the books and chose Brazill.
“Me? I don’t know about that,” Brazill said when told of that fact Monday. “I’m kind of fast, but I don’t know. We’ll have to all race to see how that goes.”
The young receivers are competing in nearly every other way.
In addition to Hilton, drafted in the third round last April, and Brazill, a sixth-round pick, Indianapolis has undrafted rookies Griff Whalen and Jabin Sambrano in training camp. Mix in Jeremy Ross and Jarred Fayson, who spent last season on the Colts’ practice squad, and there’s plenty of competition for five or six spots on the 53-man roster.
“We know we have to (compete) if we want to keep this job,” Brazill said. “We have to fight every day and go hard. We go at each other, no hard feeling, but just trying to grind every day.”