The New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts will meet again for a 6:40 p.m. kickoff on Sunday. And as the two sides do so, former college teammates, former Patriots and former Colts will also meet again.
Here is a look into 13 of the personnel ties between New England and Indianapolis leading up to the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium.
Sergio Brown, Safety: Brown signed with the Patriots in April of 2010 and was released during the final cuts four months later. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound undrafted Notre Dame safety proceeded to spend the first six weeks of the regular season on New England’s practice squad, making his way onto the 53-man roster in late October to make his debut against the San Diego Chargers. No. 38 finished his rookie year with 11 tackles in 11 games, and switched to No. 31 the following year as Brandon Meriweather was released. He started three games and played in 15 for the Patriots in 2011, recording 37 tackles and an interception. The Colts claimed Brown off waivers at the start of the 2012 season, and he’s played 50 games since.
Darius Butler, Cornerback: A UConn Huskie and 2009 Patriots second-round draft pick, Butler played 14 games and started five for New England as a rookie, posting 35 tackles, three interceptions and a touchdown. But early on in his second season, the cornerback was replaced as starter by a former practice-squad player in Kyle Arrington and was released by September of 2011. Butler has since spent one season with the Carolina Panthers and three with the Colts, where he’s again found a place in the secondary.
Josh Chapman, Defensive Tackle: Four rounds after running back Trent Richardson and linebacker Dont’a Hightower came off the board, the 6-foot, 341-pound Chapman did the same. The Alabama nose tackle won a pair of national championships alongside Richardson and Hightower. And he started 15 games for the Colts during the 2014 regular season, netting 21 tackles and a forced fumble.
Jonotthan Harrison, Center: Before Harrison and offensive linemate Xavier Nixon were practicing against the likes of Chapman, Zach Kerr and Cory Redding, they were practicing against the likes of Patriots first-rounder Dominique Easley at Florida. It was Easley, who aligned primarily at the three- and one-techniques for the Gators, who familiarized with Harrison at center. And though he will not get to do on Sunday, perhaps they will again someday. Harrison has started 10 games for the Colts after signing as an undrafted rookie last May.
Arthur Jones, Defensive Tackle: The last time New England and Indianapolis faced off, neither Arthur Jones nor Chandler Jones were healthy enough to do so. The two brothers will be this time. The 6-foot-3, 337-pound Colts defensive tackle played in nine regular-season games this year, accruing 23 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble after four years with the Baltimore Ravens. And the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Patriots defensive played in 10 regular-season games this year, accruing 43 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles and two pass breakups in his third year with the team.
Shaun Phillips, Outside Linebacker: One played there from 2002 to 2003, while the other did so from 2004 to 2005, but Phillips and Rob Ninkovich are cut from the same Purdue Boilermakers cloth. And now, the Colts outside linebacker and the Patriots edge defender will look to cut into the offensive lines of each other’s teams on Sunday.
LaRon Landry, Safety: Landry was playing his final season LSU when defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois and wideout Brandon LaFell were playing in their first, but on the practice field they all met in 2006. And after the safety headed to the NFL that following spring, the Tigers headed on to become national champions in 2007. Landry and Jean Francois crossed paths again when the two joined the Colts’ defense in March of 2013, and they will again cross paths with LaFell and the Patriots in January of 2015.
Anthony Castonzo, Offensive Tackle: Castonzo, as well as Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus – currently on injured reserve – all made their way to the NFL via Boston College. And when Indianapolis last met New England, Castonzo made his way into the end zone as an eligible receiver.
Adam Vinatieri, Kicker: Vinatieri broke into the league with the Patriots in 1996 and remained there through two Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pros and three Super Bowls. And since beginning his tenure with the Colts in 2006, the 42-year-old kicker has been through another Pro Bowl, another first-team All-Pro and another Super Bowl. In 2014, the former South Dakota State Jackrabbit and Amsterdam Admiral became the first NFL player to score 900 points with two different teams.
Donald Thomas, Guard: After spending his first three NFL seasons between the Miami Dolphins and the Detroit Lions, Thomas spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons between the guard spots for the Patriots. The 6-foot-4, 303-pound guard started eight games and played in 26 for New England over that span, before signing with the Colts to become a full-time starter in March of 2013. But two torn quadriceps muscles have limited Thomas to two starts since then. He was placed on injured reserve in July.
Jeff Demps, Running Back: After winning a silver medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics, Demps signed a three-year deal with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie that August. The 5-foot-7, 191-pound sprinter went on to play in two preseason games for New England, rushing nine times for 56 yards and catching three passes for 31 yards before landing on injured reserve for the duration of the season. The Patriots later traded Demps and a seventh-round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for 6-foot, 250-pound running back LeGarrette Blount during the third day of the 2013 draft. Demps played in two regular-season games for the Buccaneers, and he now resides on the Indianapolis practice squad.
Kelcy Quarles, Defensive Tackle: Also on the Indianapolis practice squad is former South Carolina defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles. Quarles first signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted rookie in May, before being claimed off waivers by the Patriots in September. New England later waived the 22-year-old and re-signed him to the practice squad. But Indianapolis added him to the 53-man roster shortly thereafter. Quarles has since played in two games for the Colts, registering one tackle.
Daxton Swanson, Cornerback: Swanson originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Colts in April of 2013. The Sam Houston State defensive back remained on the 53-man roster for four months. Swanson has since been a member of the San Francisco 49ers’ and Patriots’ practice squads.