The start of the NFL preseason this week puts two local professional players back on the field for the 2014 season.
Matt Overton, Tracy High Class of 2003, and Amini Silatolu, West High Class of 2007, are both in their third year with their respective teams, Overton with the Indianapolis Colts and Silatolu with the Carolina Panthers. Both have starting roles as their teams begin play this week.
Overton, the long-snapper for the Colts, said that two weeks of training camp had ramped up his team’s energy level in advance of the Colts’ game on Thursday against the New York Jets.
“For me it’s exciting to get back to familiar territory with my punter, Pat McAfee, and kicker, Adam Vinatieri,” Overton said on Tuesday.
Overton said he now feels like part of an experienced team ready to take another step forward. He joined the team in 2012 as an undrafted free agent, the same year the Colts picked up former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck as the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick.
“The young team that we once were, the maturity level has grown,” Overton said. “These young guys are now the veteran guys. That experience has formed our team into a contender this year.”
The Colts were eliminated in the wild-card round of the 2012 playoffs in 2012 and got as far as the divisional level last year, losing 43-22 to the New England Patriots. Overton expects the experience on the team to carry the Colts further this year.
“This is the first year we’ve been really stable across the board.”
Silatolu could not be reached for an interview this week. The Panthers reported in early July that Silatolu, a second-round draft pick in 2012, was back as the team’s starting left guard after missing most of the 2013 season because of a knee injury. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the Oct. 6 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Silatolu started training camp with the Panthers on July 25 in preparation for the first preseason game tonight against the Buffalo Bills.
The question mark for the Panthers is whether quarterback Cam Newton will be fully recovered from an ankle injury in time for tonight’s game. The Panthers reported this week that backup quarterback Derek Anderson was prepared to take the starting role.
Contact Bob Brownne at email@example.com or 830-4227.