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Colts’ Mike Adams: ‘I’m not going anywhere’

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Mike Adams #29 and Adam Vinatieri #4 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrate after Vinatieri made the game winning field goal in overtime to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 16-13 at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Mike Adams knows the drill.

As one of the Indianapolis Colts’ eldest statesmen, the veteran safety’s job description includes imparting positional wisdom to the next wave of young talent. It’s lending a hand whenever a Clayton Geathers or a T.J. Green has a question regarding an assignment, an alignment or how to react when facing a particular offensive situation.

“Anytime they need advice, anytime they need to know a call or whatever, I’m there for them,’’ Adams said Tuesday. “That’s my job, to pass the torch onto the young guys.’’

But let’s make one thing clear. While Adams is generous with his counsel, he’s a bit selfish when it comes to his position.

The Colts looked to the future when they used a fourth-round pick in last year’s NFL Draft on Geathers, and again in April when they selected Green in the second round with the draft’s 57th overall pick.

Teams always are looking to get younger.

“Absolutely,’’ Adams said, nodding his head and smiling.

Yet Adams’ discussions with the young safeties always include a self-serving caveat: don’t dismiss me.

“At the end of the day,’’ he said, “I tell them I’ll still competing for a job, too. I’m not going anywhere.’’

Adams, 35, ranks No. 3 in seniority among Colts, trailing only Adam Vinatieri, 43, and Robert Mathis, 35 but a month older. He’s the NFL’s oldest active safety and second-oldest defensive back; Minnesota cornerback Terence Newman is 37.

As the Colts move through the third week of their four-week organized team activities, their starting safety tandem features the young (Geathers, 24) and the not so young (Adams).

“I guess that’s the way it’s shaking out right now,’’ Adams said. “I just know I’m still competing. I’m 13 years in, but I still have that mentality that I was undrafted. Nobody wanted me. I’ll have that mentality until they tell me to pack my bags.’’

Geathers smiled when asked about what he’s learned from Adams.

“Oh, man, a lot,’’ he said. “For one, just how to be a pro and how to be around for as long as he’s been around.

“He’s been around coming on 13 seasons. He’s doing something right. I’m praying that I get to be like that.’’

Yep, be like Mike.

Adams was a player no one wanted following a productive career at Delaware. Undrafted in 2004, he signed with the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie free agent.

He appeared in 146 games with 73 starts in 10 seasons with the 49ers, Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos, and started for the Broncos in their Super Bowl XLVIII loss to Seattle after the ’13 season.

Then, unnerving silence as the ’14 offseason unfolded. Adams again was an unrestricted free agent. There was casual interest – “A few bites,’’ he said – but nothing that caught his attention until the Colts called prior to their veterans’ minicamp in mid-June.

“I was home in Jersey, just working out every day,’’ he said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I thought it was over.’’

That changed when the Colts, in desperate need of an experienced presence at safety, reached out.

“Two Pro Bowls later, here I am,’’ Adams said.

An afterthought at the time, he’s emerged as a defensive cornerstone. Adams has earned consecutive Pro Bowl appearances by generating 13 takeaways – 10 interceptions, three fumble recoveries – in 29 regular-season starts. His seven takeaways in 2014 tied for the league lead. He’s the first Colt with at least five interceptions in consecutive seasons since Eugene Daniel in 1984-85.

Grudgingly, Adams concedes he’s not the same player he was 10 years ago.

“When I see T.J., how fast he is and how he covers, I’m like, ‘OK, I’ve got to go out there and lock somebody down. I’ve got to step my game up,’’’ he said.

Is he as fast as Green?

“I used to be,’’ Adams insisted.

Green ripped off a 4.34 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“I actually ran a 4.35 when I was coming out,’’ Adams said.

Now that he lacks a shade of that top-end speed, it’s all about compensating.

“Absolutely,’’ Adams said. “You’ve got to make up for what you don’t have.

“If you’re not fast, you’d better be smart. If you’re not smart and you’re not fast, you’re in trouble.’’

At this point in his career, Adams is taking a survivalist’s approach. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season, and fully realizes the uncertainty that accompanies that.

“Yeah, I think about that sometimes,’’ he said. “This is my last year, contract-wise. I want to be a Colt. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to do anything else.

“This is my year to prove it, to let them know I’m valuable, I’ve still got it, I still can play. Not just (prove it) here, but to everybody in the league. I’ve tried to build my brand and get the respect of the league. I think I’ve done that.

“I’m just going to take it one year at a time. I’m going to grind it this year like this is my prove-it year. Then we’ll see what happens.’’

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