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Tommie Harris, welcome to Indy!

COLTS Notebook: Friday Aug. 5th, 2011 

NO PLACE LIKE INDY – Tommie Harris knew it in April. Amidst the lockout and uncertainty of the 2011 football season, Harris wanted to be in one place when the lockout was resolved.

“I had no doubt in my mind this is where I wanted to play. I’m just looking for a fresh start, a fresh opportunity,” Harris said. “The only way to prove it is to go out there and do it. What better team to do it with than with Peyton Manning, Freeney, and Mathis, guys just like the rest.”

Harris was on the practice field taking in Thursday afternoon’s practice but won’t participate until Friday morning when all the other veteran free agents take the field for the first time in 2011.

With two Pro Bowl defensive ends in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis on the outside, Harris said this defensive line was an ideal fit for a penetrating defensive tackle like himself.

“Great group,” Harris said when asked about his future defensive line. “That’s the reason why I chose to come here. I knew I wanted to come to a place where guys get up field.”

Another aspect of Indianapolis that led him here was the Tampa-2 defense played by the Colts. This is the same scheme that he was a part of for all seven of his NFL seasons in Chicago.

“This is a defense he’s been playing for quite some time,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “There’s no question about it that one time, obviously, he was very explosive and we still think he’ll be explosive again. We’ll certainly work him in and get a good look at him here in the next couple of weeks.”

The addition of Harris is third free agent signing the Colts have made in the past week all with former first-round picks on the defensive side of the ball.

The Harris/Indianapolis connection dates back to the 2007 Super Bowl when the Pro Bowl defensive tackle did not play because of injury.

The 2003 Lombardi Award winner for the nation’s top defensive lineman, Harris said he was hoping to be picked by the Colts in the draft and learn under the tutelage of Colts defensive line coach John Teerlinck but he is happy to finally be playing for the team he has had his sights on his whole career.

“Teerlinck is one of the guys like (Rod) Marinelli (his defensive line coach in Chicago), a guy you always wanted to play for,” Harris said. “But you know how the draft is, if you go too high or go too low now I finally have the opportunity to be under him. I was under Marinelli and had some great defensive line coaches and this is the one I really wanted to play for. After all is said and done I said I wanted to play for these guys and I had the opportunity to play for the guy that coached one of my favorite players John Randle, so anything he says, goes.”

Harris wasn’t able to get his chance for a Super Bowl ring in 2007 but now he’s in the locker room who got the Lombardi Trophy on that rainy February night and ready for his turn.

ONE MORE DAY UNTIL FULL SQUAD RETURNS-Friday morning will mark the first time in the 2011 training camp that the Colts will take the practice field with their 2011 veteran free agent singings. For the seventh straight practice the newly signed veterans watched from the sidelines and took mental reps.

The afternoon practice was the only one on Thursday and the players hit the adjacent practice fields in shorts and helmets. A few game officials attended Thursday’s practice and spent the beginning of practice chatting with Colts Vice Chairman Bill Polian.

Practice began with defensive captain Gary Brackett leading stretching before the team gathered as a unit for a brief segment on kickoff coverage. After breaking down into their individual units for about 30 minutes, the offense divided up and walked through plays while the defense worked on a turnover drill with their linebackers and secondary.

The crowd watching Thursday’s practice was treated to some 11-on-11 (no tackling) late in the afternoon. The defense started off the segment with two noteworthy plays on pass defense. Quarterback Curtis Painter seemed to connect with Anthony Gonzalez on about a 30-yard gain down the middle but cornerback Jacob Lacey stretched his arms out and knocked away the intended pass. Three plays later with Mike Hartline at quarterback, Brackett intercepted a deflected pass over the middle for the lone takeaway on the afternoon.

The offense eventually got things going as Painter and wide receiver Taj Smith hooked up on three different passes during the 11-on-11. Running back Devin Moore had back-to-back strong runs off the right side of the line with Darren Evans also ripping off a nice gain straight up the middle.

The practice ended with more special teams work with kickoff coverage.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 2011 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

Alol times are when pre game show begins

Saturday, August 13

6:00 p.m. – Colts at Rams

Friday, August 19

500 p.m. – Colts vs. Redskins

Friday, August 26

6:00 p.m. – Colts vs. Packers

Thursday, September 1

5:00 p.m. – Colts at Bengals

Hear the Colts pre season and regular season games on your home for Indianpolis Colts Football…103GBF!

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