WESTFIELD — When the Colts host the Jacksonville Jaguars inside a jam-packed Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 10., Dallis Flowers anticipates fulfilling his destiny to secure the opening kickoff, dash out of the end zone and swerve through the traffic to electrify a new era in Indianapolis.
Flowers progressed five spots up the depth chart and focused on improving the mental aspect of playing cornerback, while learning situational football. A thunderstorm Friday morning moved Day 2 of training camp inside the Grand Park Events Center, so Flowers worked on his press coverage technique on turf across from receivers Alec Pierce, Ashton Dulin and Mike Strachan. During the 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills, Flowers took first-team reps opposite Kenny Moore II, who similarly signed with the Colts as an undrafted free agent out of Valdosta State in 2017 and made his first Pro Bowl in 2021.
“Just coming in with the same intensity and try to capitalize more on my opportunities,” Flowers said.
Flowers’ testimony illustrates a road less traveled, which ultimately led to the blanked trail directing players to the Colts’ field of dreams practice facility in Westfield. Born in Chicago, Flowers grew up watching an iconic kick returner for the Chicago Bears. Sometimes recognized as “Anytime”, “Hurricane Hester” or “Sugar Foot”, and today is often revered as the greatest kick returner in league history.
“Dallo” locked down receivers on opposite ends of the field with his younger brother, Brenden, at Grand View University in Des Moines, IA. The two-time NAIA All-American signed with the Colts as an undrafted free agent in May 2022.
Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley recognized Flowers’ 6-foot-1 frame, lightning speed and versatile playmaking as the best aspects he displays on the gridiron. On 23 kick returns during his rookie campaign, Flowers led the NFL with 31.1 yards per return and earned 2022 Pro Football Writers of America NFL All-Rookie Team honors. Flowers flashed his potential on a season-long, 89-yard return in Week 12 to start the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Dallis did an unbelievable job last year on kickoff return, one of the best kickoff returners in the NFL in his rookie season so we’re really excited to keep building off that as a kickoff returner,” Colts special teams coordinator Brian Mason said.
Coach Bradley and defensive backs coach Ron Milus must reconstruct the secondary after the Colts traded Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys and lost Brandon Facyson to the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency. There is also the gambling fiasco involving Isaiah Rodgers, which led to the 25-year old being waived by the Colts after getting himself suspended indefinitely for betting on NFL games.
Flowers mentioned speaking with Gilmore last week and expressed remaining close with the two-time All-Pro cornerback despite his inevitable departure. He accredited the 12-year veteran and Super Bowl LIII champion for teaching him how to narrow down the route possibilities a receiver might run depending on the circumstance.
“It’s only so many routes a receiver can run, due to the down and distance,” Flowers said. “Gilly (Gilmore) and Kenny (Moore II) helped me a lot with that. I appreciate those guys.”
Flowers aims to be deemed the best kick returner in football and labeled as a lockdown cornerback. On Monday, when the Colts practice in full pads for the first time in training camp, Flowers will be motivated to display his immense talent to the fans cheering from the grandstands.
“I have been doing kick returns since little league, so I definitely take that seriously,” Flowers said. Opening day, I am definitely going to put on a show.