Healthy Pyatt Prepares for Second NFL Season
He was gone as quickly as he appeared,
disappearing from the Colts' 2003 season in early November.
For the first eight games, Brad Pyatt helped improve
the Colts' special teams.
Pyatt, who emerged last season as one of the AFC's top kick and punt returners as a free-agent rookie, was among the league leaders in both categories before sustaining a neck injury November 2 in Miami. He was put on injured reserve later that week and missed the rest of the regular season.
Six months later, Pyatt said while the injury was frustrating, he's healthy now.
And another thing:
What Pyatt did last season was become one of the Colts' most exciting players and a player with a future - all that just a few months after not being selected in the NFL's supplemental draft.
Pyatt, who played his final collegiate season at Northern Colorado after transferring from the University of Kentucky, signed with the Colts as a free agent on July 16, 2003. He made the team with an impressive training camp and preseason, then started the season as the Colts' primary punt and kick returner.
He played the first eight games in that role, returning 19 kickoffs for 544 yards - a 28.6-yard-per-return average - and returning 12 punts for 110 yards, an average of 9.2 yards per return.
He had a 38-yard kickoff return in the Colts' victory over Tennessee in early September and a 50-yarder against New Orleans two weeks later, but his biggest play of the season came during the Colts' dramatic, 38-35 victory over Tampa Bay October 6.
With the Colts trailing 35-14 with less than four minutes remaining, Pyatt returned a kickoff 90 yards. The play set up a touchdown, and helped the Colts to one of the largest comebacks in NFL history.
A month later, against the Miami Dolphins, Pyatt
sustained a neck injury.
"I got thrown in the fire, and once you get in
there, you're just playing," Pyatt said. "Once I stepped
back, I got to see what I was doing. The game kind of slowed down.
The first eight games were real fast for me, and as the season ended,
I started to catch more things that I didn't see. Physically, I'm
back in shape now, so I didn't think it hurt me there, either.
Pyatt, who participated in last week's mini-camp, said he will participate in the team's upcoming summer-school program, and will be 100 percent for training camp.
His goal for the next few months:
To not only improve as a returner, but to continue his development as a wide receiver.
Pyatt, although primarily a returner last season, improved as a receiver at the same time and before he was injured, he had earned more playing time at the position. He had one reception for two yards against Houston the week before his injury, and Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said he had improved enough to be a factor in the offense.
"Things were starting to pick up," Pyatt
said. "I started getting a little more offense each week. But at
the same time, I was encouraged. This year, I know they're actually
looking for me as a receiver, too.
During last weekend's mini-camp, when Dungy and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning discussed the receiving corps, they included Pyatt in a group that developed last season into one of the deepest, most productive units in the AFC.
"As a receiver, my whole game needs to
improve," Pyatt said. "My routes need to improve - my
hands, my knowledge of the game. This is one of the best, if not the
best, group of wide receivers in the league. I've got hard duty ahead
of me, but it is great to have these guys, because you can watch and
learn from there.
"Hopefully, no one ahead of me gets hurt. You don't want that, but if something does happen, I want to be ready to step in."
By John Oehser - Colts.com
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