Listen Live

INDIANAPOLISClearly, Malik Hooker has changed his tune a bit.

In the immediate aftermath back in May of finding out the Colts were not picking up his 5th year rookie option, Hooker took to social media for a few cryptic posts that weren’t all that surprising from a 24-year-old in such a public spotlight.

It was raw emotion for Hooker, who had just seen the Colts actions—which also included the drafting of a free safety the week prior—telling him that he was no longer a locked in piece of the team’s future.

Nearly four months later, in speaking to the media for the first time since he found out 2020 would now be a contract year for him, Hooker is saying all the right things.

“I really wouldn’t say disappointment, it was more so like a motivation call for me,” Hooker says of the news he got this offseason. “I just have to go out there and prove myself type of thing. That’s how I feel like it is. It’s more so me just having to show the consistency that I’ve had for the majority of last year and just show it more often. I feel like that’s all it is.”

The Colts have stressed the ‘c’ word with Hooker, wanting to see him string more of those flashes together.

“I do (think he can tap into more),” defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus says. “I believe in Malik Hooker and I think he’s going to have a great year. I think he was on his way last year to doing that, I really do. I said before, if you looked at his work patterns during the course of training camp (last year), the early part of the season, all the way through the middle part of the season, he was working his tail off. It was paying off, in terms of playing the run, in terms of running through tackles, angles. (Safeties coach) Alan Williams did a great job with him being that guy early on, and in the middle of the season.

“Now, he’s just got to be more consistent and finish it off. It’s just about consistency. We believe in Malik and we believe he can do it.”

Hooker gives himself a B+ grade for his play last season.

His role included playing closer to the line of scrimmage at times, something he had not done much of in prior years. He played in 13 games, picking off 2 balls and having 3 passes defensed.

Fully healed from tearing his ACL in October of his 2017 rookie season, Hooker now enters a year without having to rehab an injury for the first time in his career.

Along with knowing more consistency is needed, especially when he’s asked to play more in the box, Hooker points to a few other areas he wants to focus on.

“Obviously, just creating more turnovers. They don’t necessarily have to be interceptions, but trying to get more forced fumbles this year. Just trying to be that vet out there that, lead vocally, getting everybody lined up faster, seeing stuff faster and communicating it to the front guys that can’t see it from a bird’s-eye view like I can.”

In an ideal world, Hooker says he would have a great 2020 campaign and return to Indy for a second NFL contract.

But such a scenario isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Even though their spring actions said otherwise, the Colts say they are confident believing Hooker can take that leap this season.

“Malik has really, really looked good,” Frank Reich says after three days in full pads.

“Physically he looks good, making plays in practice. I feel great about where he is at right now.”