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30 at 30: Number 27, Safety Antoine Bethea

June 20th, 2013 at 11:09 AM
By Chuck Chapman

Colts 101 is counting down the 30 most influential members of the Indianapolis Colts organization. You can track our previous picks by clicking here.

'Indianapolis Colts RCA Dome' photo (c) 2007, Josh Hallett - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Antoine Bethea is one of the great success stories not just in Indianapolis, but in the entire NFL. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of Howard University, he certainly flew underneath the radar at the outset of his career. By the end of his first training camp with the Colts, however, it was clear Indianapolis had unearthed a special player.

Bethea broke into the starting lineup early in his rookie year and started 14 games. Playing alongside Bob Sanders, the duo formed one of the more effective safety tandems in the NFL, helping Indianapolis secure the city's first Super Bowl title. Bethea was so effective, the Colts allowed the injured Mike Doss to walk away that off season, giving Bethea the job which he has yet to relinquish.

Bethea and DE/LB Robert Mathis are now the elder-statesmen of the Colts defense. Through last season, Bethea had played in 107 games for the Colts and recorded 489 tackles, good for eighth all-time in franchise history (including Baltimore).

Last season, Bethea racked up 100 tackles for the fourth time in his seven years as a Colts and had two quarterback sacks as new coordinator Greg Manusky allowed Bethea to play closer to the line of scrimmage instead of being back in coverage in the old Cover 2 alignment.

Bethea shows no signs of slowing down. If he continues to surpass 100 tackles over the next two seasons, he will become the leading tackler among defensive backs in the history of the franchise. With new partner LaRon Landry on board, Bethea has his most talented side-kick since his early days with Bob Sanders.

As long as Antoine Bethea is in the Colts' secondary, opposing quarterbacks and receivers need to think twice about challenging the middle of the Colts' defense.

Tags: Antoine Bethea, Bob Sanders, Football, Greg Manusky, Indianapolis, Indianapolis Colts, Laron Landry, NFL

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