On Tuesday, the Colts agreed to term to bring return specialist Josh Cribbs to Indianapolis as the latest addition to the "Fourth Down Army," one that will hopefully be just as successful as some of the other players that make up the tremendous unit.
"My thing more than anything is kickoff return," Cribbs said after practice Wednesday. "We just were timing up those wedges. Those guys are already awesome. I'm finding myself not having to teach them a lot, little corrections here and there. They're telling me what they see. We're all getting on one accord. It's not going to be like the preseason on Sunday. It's going to be like we've been together for years and that's how it should be."
The one question about Cribbs, who is among the most prolific return men in NFL history, has been whether he still has much left in the tank at 31 years old. Cribbs doesn't see it as much of a question. "I've got a lot, and you're going to see it this Sunday," he said. "I'm anxious. I'm just excited about the people I have to work with. They're just excited to have me, and I'm feeding off of their energy to give (Andrew) Luck some good field position. I have the opportunity to help him shine. To be a catalyst like that, I'm just ecstatic."
In nine NFL seasons (eight with the Cleveland Browns), Cribbs has returned 8 kickoffs for touchdowns (tying an NFL career record) and averaging 25.8 yards per return while also averaging 11.1 yards per punt return and 3 more scores. He's a three-time Pro Bowler, a two-time first team All-Pro, and a member of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s, but his postseason stats are severely lacking. In fact, since entering the league in 2005 Cribbs has never been a part of a playoff team and has been a part of a winning team just once. The 2014 Colts, however? "They smell like playoffs," Cribbs said. "They smell like Super Bowl. It's just awesome to be in a locker room with a bunch of guys that just want it as bad as they do." When asked what Trent Richardson told him about Indianapolis, Cribbs said, "that it's a place of winners."
Head coach Chuck Pagano praised his new kick returner, saying that, "he's got 11, I believe, career touchdowns on returns, which is pretty damn good. So you guys know his resume as well as I know his resume." Pagano added that, "he's got great vision. The good Lord blessed him with great football talent, toughness, instincts, all the things necessary to do what he's done in the past in this league and play at a very high level."
Pagano didn't say it directly, but reading between the lines it's obvious that Cribbs will be both the team's kick and punt returner this Sunday, and Cribbs also said that he's been working some at wide receiver too (he has 109 catches for 1,167 yards and 7 touchdowns in his career). He also noted that he can play wildcat quarterback if need be (he played quarterback in college and has thrown 15 passes in his NFL career). "That's good," quarterback Andrew Luck noted about the last part, joking that, "I'm sure Matt (Hasselbeck) will not be happy with that."
Ultimately, the Colts hope that Cribbs will help them in a variety of ways, the biggest of which is in the return game. Safety Mike Adams, who played with Cribbs for five years in Cleveland, said that, "he brings a lot to the table, not just returning the ball, he's a special teams player as well. Just an added dimension to what we have already because our special teams are very good. He's very good."
The Colts hope he can regain that form, and if so he will be a huge boost to an already strong special teams unit.