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Chad Spann 2013 Season Outlook

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I've actually been following this player for a couple of years now.

He was an UDFA (undrafted free agent) RB in 2011. He ended up making the Colts 53-man roster, but suffered a Grade 3 hamstring tear in the final preseason game of that year.

Yeah, let me emphasize. He suffered hamstring tear three minutes into the final preseason game, and played through the injury the entire game. That's a level of toughness you don't find very often.


Because of the business side of the game, he was placed on I.R. to free up a roster spot, even though his injury was NOT season-ending in nature.

Spann made the Indianapolis Colts’ 53-man roster this weekend, but was placed on injured reserve the next day. An injury settlement got Spann off injured reserve Monday, according to a report in the Indianapolis Star. He currently is an unrestricted free agent.

“Really, it’s a numbers game,” Spann said. “Right now, with Indy, I made the 53-man roster, but there’s a lot of other injuries on the team as well. We had a bunch of injuries, and you can only dress 46 people in a game. We barely have 46 healthy bodies.

“We had five running backs, and I was the one that was hurt. To make space to get other people in, we put me on injured reserve.”

“My injury is not season-ending,” Spann said. “I could be playing again in two or three weeks, hopefully.”

A player on injured reserve is unavailable for the season. However, Spann and the Colts reached an injury settlement, which Spann defined as “an agreement that I will be injured for a certain number of weeks.”

Spann said he will receive game checks during the time period under the injury settlement. If no team signs Spann, he said he can rejoin the Colts in Week 8.

“Right now, nothing is guaranteed,” Spann said. “The Colts definitely did express a lot of interest in wanting me back in Week 8, as soon as they could. They knew keeping me on injury reserved and losing me for the season is what they didn’t want to do. That’s why we went the settlement route. So hopefully I’ll be back there in Indy.”

So after the injury settlement, which took him off the I.R. and made him a free agent, he rehabbed the hamstring tear and signed to the Tampa Bay Bucs practice squad on October 17th, 2011.

The Bucs suffered a series of injuries at RB shortly thereafter, including Earnest Graham tearing his achilles tendon. With RB Blount pulled on practically all passing, third downs, and 2 minute drills, the "backup" RB was typically seeing more snaps/touches than Blount was during that timeframe. Unfortunately, the injuries never reached far enough down the depth chart, and the Bucs instead chose to go with Mosis Madu since Spann was still learning the new team's offense.

After getting passed over by the Bucs for the active roster, Chad Spann signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers to their practice squad on December 12th, 2011. Shortly afterwards, Rashard Mendenhall suffered his torn ACL, and Chad Spann was promoted to the Steelers 53-man active roster on January 5th, 2012.

Unfortunately, he was released by the Steelers the following offseason, May 2, 2012.

This was from an interview taken with Spann in February of 2012, after the season:


DLF – How is the hamstring injury coming along? Are you feeling fully recovered?

CS – My hamstring is fully healed now. Injured it in the first half of the Colts final preseason game vs. Cincinnati. It took about 6 weeks from then to be cleared to play ball again. I was told, however, that it would still affect me the rest of the season and it did. It wasn’t until about week 13 when I felt 100% again.

It's also important to remember that the 2010 strike/holdout/whatever it was shortened the offseason program for all rookies/UDFA's. That certainly didn't help Spann's chances at the start, yet he still made the Colt's 53-man roster (and then suffered the hamstring injury at the last minute before the season began).

WR Johnny Knox was one of his mentors coming up. His favorite RB growing up was Marshall Faulk (thus why he wore #28 wherever he could). Also this:

DLF – Who do you feel your game resembles the most?

CS – I’m not sure who’s game mine resembles the most but I do a lot of film study of Ray Rice. Another short running back with a similar build and skill set. So I guess that is what I am aiming for however we still do things differently.

So anyway, he kept working out until he'd get his next shot. Now he seems to be getting the chance in New York, as he's with the Jets on a tryout basis during their rookie minicamp.


Chad Spann is 5'8", 202-205 lbs (unless he's addes some weight since those measurements were taken).

His senior year, 2010, he rushed for 1,388 yards and led the nation with 22 rushing TDs.

The thing that most impressed me a couple years ago, the reason he was on my radar, we because of his running style. I figured he'd end up on some teams roster and make his way up once injuries struck.

I have no doubt that he could definitely unseat Joe McKnight or Bilal Powell to make the Jets 53-man roster. And then, all it would take is an injury to Chris Ivory, imo, for him to finally make the fantasy impact I've been waiting for.

I think he actually landed in one of the more perfect situations (for fantasy stats). The Jets simply are willing to run the ball. So if he makes it into the lead role by way of a Chris Ivory injury sometime during the season, I'd DEFINITELY burn the #1 overall Waiver Claim on him if I had it.

Some other articles:



This is a good one:


These are two great interviews with him discussing his time with the Colts, working with Peyton Manning, etc:



Now for the videos (oddly, most of his highlight reels from college have been taken off Youtube):

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I'm still trying to find the old highlight video from his college career, but suffice to say, he breaks more tackles than most RB's I've ever seen. It immediately jumps out at you, if you get a chance to see that particular highlight video (I believe it covered his junior and senior seasons).

His junior year he scored 20 TDs.

His senior year he scored 22 TDs.

A large part of that was his vision and ability to break tackles and fight for extra yards. I'm seriously excited to draft him beyond Round 10 in a 15-round draft. He has the potential to blow up if he gets the chance at a starting job during the season.

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Oh, and the reason that I emphasize that he got a chance to work with Peyton Manning is because of things like this:

Waldman: What kinds of things did you learn about your position that were either new to you or further validation of what you’ve been taught in high school and college?

Spann: Remember when we watched film together and did work on knowing all of the blocking schemes on running plays? It’s the same thing in the pass offense. In college it wasn’t that in-depth. We had a very simple protection scheme of man side and zone side where I had two responsibilities. If neither of those responsibilities blitzed then I would run a route from the backfield.

With the Colts offense their base protection have the running back checking at least three people – sometimes four people. It became very clear to me that I had to learn defensive fronts for sure and not just 3-4/4-3. I had to learn over/under and eight in the box because I had to know where these potential blitzes were coming from and I have to know which linebacker is going to be picked up by the offensive lineman and which one I have to pick up.

Waldman: Can you give me an example?

Spann: In a 4-3 defense in one of our standard protections the offensive linemen will pick up the four down linemen and the “Mike” LB – whoever they identify as the “Mike.” I may have the “Will” LB and Peyton has the “Sam”. This means I have to know where the “Will” is.

But maybe Peyton looks at the defense and decides he doesn’t want to throw a hot route. He’ll change who the offense identifies as the “Sam” and identify him as the “Mike.” So now instead of the offense blocking the original “Mike,” they are going to block the player Peyton is now calling the “Mike” based on what he sees on the field.

Now I have to know that if the “Mike” moved over one spot then my “Will” moved over one spot. Now the original “Mike” linebacker is now the “Will” and that’s my guy to pick up.

Waldman: When you think about watching game analysis on TV and the analyst is circling who he identifies as the “Mike” you have to hope that he knows this from talking with the coaches of that team because what you’re telling me is that the way linebackers are identified at the line of scrimmage changes not just according where they line up, but how the quarterback decides to label them to execute a play.

Spann: That kind of stuff is up to the quarterback. Almost every route in a passing scheme as a built-in hot route. Sometimes Peyton doesn’t want you to cut off the route and run that hot route. Instead he wants you to run the full route. He’ll change who the “Mike” is so the other linebacker that was the free blitzer gets picked up by the offensive line and that puts me in a position to run my full route and do what Peyton wants us to do offensively. It was definitely an adjustment at first and took a little bit of time to pick it up, but once I did it made a whole lot of sense and made the game clearer to me.

I think the above information gives a lot of context to this infamous Youtube video:

Waldman: What kind of feedback did you get from the organization about your training camp and preseason performance?

Spann: You don’t get a lot from the coaches, but talking to Chris Polian and Tom Telesco when I decided to take this injured reserve route they expressed how much they liked my game. They loved what I brought to the table and they didn’t want to lose me for the whole year and we took this injury settlement route so I could make it back to the club when I’m healthy.

Delone Carter, Darren Evans, and I hung out the whole camp and helped each other and Delone expressed to me all the time that he likes the way I can catch the ball out of the backfield and make people miss. He said it was something he needed to work on with his game and he actually asked me for help in those situations.

It surprised me because all the talk before the draft was that I couldn’t catch and I wouldn’t be that much help in the passing game (laughter). But seriously, one of my main attributes that appealed to the Colts was that I could catch the ball out of the backfield and line up at receiver and run routes and catch the ball. Peyton even described that as something he liked about my game.

Waldman: As great of a football player Manning has been and you being a Colts fan growing up, what was it like meeting him and working with him?

Spann: As much respect as I had for him for all these years I grew up in Indy as a Colts fan, when he opens his mouth you pay attention. Everybody listens. I actually got the opportunity to work with him closely because when he was trying to rehab and come back he would come in after practice and he would do hand offs and throw a few routes. All the hand offs he would do would be with me, Delone Carter, and Darren Evans – the three rookies.

So we got to do a lot of work with him and that helped me understand the offense a lot faster because it’s just you, him, and somebody handing him the ball and he’s calling out checks at the line and doing all of that stuff at the line he does. And when you have Peyton Manning doing this with you everything gets easier.

Waldman: That type of detail and work ethic fits with the story I heard from former NFL scout Dan Shonka, who describes a moment at the University of Tennesseewhere he encountered Manning alone in a darkened gym at 10:30 at night practicing drops. It’s fascinating to hear that story and piece it with the work he does with his backs and receivers on the field prior to every game (something Ray Lewis does a great job of

). To see that kind of precision and detail and match it with a receiver like Austin Collie, who I heard used to work with his former teammate Max Hall on routes every night after dinner at BYU, and anyone could see those similar mindsets fitting together really well.

Spann: After practice we’ve all gotten together with Austin Collie and Blair White and gone through a pass shell - a “Skelly” – with just a running back, Peyton, and two slot receivers, and drive up and down the field. He’ll call a play at the line and throw it to the three of us running routes. That’s the kind of stuff that brings us younger guys along and it sharpens his tools because he knows that people are going to be where they are supposed to be at the right time.

Waldman: I didn’t get to see you play during the preseason, but I read from a blogger that you looked good in the Rams game. When the Colts scored on the drive where you had a couple of nice runs and a big play off a reception that the linebackers were so preoccupied with you on the play fake that it opened up the secondary for the touchdown pass. Certainly four plays in a preseason game is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what happens every day in practice, but…

Spann: Absolutely, I didn’t know how much I was going to play and my playing time came as a surprise to me. I got a few carries. My first broke for seven yards on a cut that I felt good about. My second carry I cut it back and ran a guy over to gain four yards and the first down. And the guy I ran over actually suffered a concussion so he was out for the rest of the game. Then the next play was a play action pass and they forgot about me in the flat. I caught it and earned a 25-yard gain and those three plays happened in a row. The next play was that play action pass for the touchdown and I think I definitely made an impact on sucking those linebackers down to the line of scrimmage because of my two big gains on the ground and the reception.

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Worth a 20th round pick.

I should start a Mr. Rogers-type Youtube channel where I talk about fantasy underdogs.

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I think Robrain kidnapped Terrance Ganaway, Bilal Powell, Robert Turbin, Chris Rainey, and William Powell, sawed them to pieces, and reassembled them to create this player.

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I think Robrain kidnapped Terrance Ganaway, Bilal Powell, Robert Turbin, Chris Rainey, and William Powell, sawed them to pieces, and reassembled them to create this player.


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Jets RB Mike Goodson has been formally slapped with five charges stemming from his Friday morning marijuana and weapons arrest.

Per USA Today, Goodson has been charged with possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana paraphernalia, possession of a handgun, possession of a loaded gun, and possession of hollow-point bullets. He may need a miracle-working attorney to avoid jail time. An NFL suspension also seems likely.

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I'm not too worried about a RB whose idea of "bulking up" is pigging out on McDonalds during the offseason. (that would be Joe McKnight for the uninitiated)

I would definitely take this guy over Bilal Powell without hesitation.

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