Kurt Coleman thinks big. He visualizes greatness. He sees a gigantic task and takes the positive approach to hard work. That is why, with the playoffs here, Coleman isn't overwhelmed by the moment or the spotlight. He is just ... ready for it.
"It's been a great experience. I wouldn't say I've been overwhelmed because I've had people to talk to as I was early into the defense, learning the basics," said Coleman. "It's a complicated defense, but Q (Quintin Mikell) and Nate (Allen) have been so helpful. Even during those times when I was a little bit frustrated with where I was mentally, those guys always talked to me and helped me learn the defense.
"I'm not flustered with the defense at all. I feel good about where I am with things."
Where Coleman is, honestly, is right in the crosshairs for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Coleman became the starter when Allen suffered a torn patellar tendon injury against the Giants and he is the guy moving forward throughout this post-season. It is a big spot, a huge responsibility, for a rookie who was drafted in the seventh round in April and then who had to learn the defense the hard way.
After attending the team's post-draft mini-camp, Coleman missed the spring Organized Team Activities because of NFL rules that restrict a rookie from attending NFL practices until his college class has graduated. In Coleman's case, that meant he missed the entire spring practice period. Coleman worked overtime during the weeks between then and the start of training camp to prepare for Lehigh, and then crammed through all hours of the night in the summer.
By the time the preseason games rolled around, Coleman could see the light just a little bit. Fast forward to now and the young man has grown up very fast.
He had no other choice.
"The defense is based a lot on what we see and then how we react," said Coleman. "So we all have to be on the same page. It can get complicated at times, but that guy right there" -- he points at Mikell -- "has helped me out a lot and he has made it much better for me and for the defense."
Coleman played a solid number of snaps each week, and then he got his first start of the year at FedEx Field against the Redskins in a nationally televised game. There was a lot of hype around the game, around the moment. Coleman helped end the suspense early with an interception off of quarterback Donovan McNabb and from that moment on, he has turned the corner.
Now it's just about playing football. Coleman knows how to study and to prepare so that he can go out on Sunday and play his best football.
"Things are going to be faster and more intense. I've heard all about it. I love it. That's when the people come out to play, the best of the best," said Coleman. "Big-time players make their mark in the playoffs. It was that way in college, too. You get to that bowl game and it's time to play your best football. That's for me. I think that is what great teams are made of.
"For me, I saw this happening for me. I'm not pleased that it happened because Nate was injured, but you have to be ready at all times. I was ready to play, to have this opportunity. Here I am. I know the Packers are explosive, Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback and they have athletic receivers who run great routes and who catch and run with the football extremely well."
Coleman has handled his business since day one with no fanfare and, certainly, with no guarantees. He is not the prototype-sized player for his position (Coleman is listed at 5 feet 11, 195 pounds) and that is a prime reason he lasted until the seventh round of April's draft. He brings to the table the instincts, the play-making ability and the toughness to excel here.
And Coleman isn't going to back down one bit in the face of Green Bay's outstanding offense.
"It's a great challenge for everyone here," he said. "This is the playoffs. We've worked hard all year to get to this spot, so it's exciting to go up against another great team. I am going to be ready to play this football game. We all will be ready."