The Indianapolis Colts have had good luck, for the most part, when adding former Canadian Football League players to the team’s roster.
Cornerback Nick Harper, placekicker Mike Vanderjagt and running back Kenton Keith all proved valuable during their stints with the Colts. Harper and Vanderjagt were the most productive in helping to start Indianapolis’ run of AFC South championships in the early-and mid-2000s.
Defensive end John Chick was with the team during the 2009 and 2010 seasons but failed to become a regular part of Indianapolis’ defensive-line rotation. He’s now on Jacksonville’s injured reserve list after playing with the Jaguars last season. Wide receiver Marc Boerigter, meanwhile, was briefly with Indianapolis but was released during training camp in 2006.
It’s safe, however, to say there have been more hits than misses when it comes to former CFL players helping the Colts on the field.
That’s why the team’s current front office regime is hopeful that athletic inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman can be a quality replacement for injured starter Pat Angerer.
The 6-foot, 234-pound Freeman played the last three seasons up north for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, leading the CFL with 105 total tackles last season. He also registered six quarterback sacks and three interceptions to earn league all-star status in 2011 and was the runner-up for the CFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
That’s pretty impressive for a guy considered too small as a high school player in Waco, Texas, and wound up playing collegiately at Mary Hardin-Baylor, an NCAA Division III school in Belton, Texas.
Freeman left the school as the program’s all-time leading tackler (registering more than 300 career stops) and was named as the Division III Defensive Player of the Year. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tennessee Titans in 2008 but was released prior to the start of the regular season.
Should Freeman end up making it past the Colts’ final roster cut later this month, he would become the first player from Mary Hardin-Baylor to earn a regular-season job with an NFL team. Rookie offensive tackle Nate Menkin is trying to make the Houston Texans’ roster.
“You know, the amazing thing is Jerrell’s just like so many Division III players across the United States that has a big heart but because of an inch here or 10 pounds or whatever there, they don’t fit in some guy’s box. Thank goodness he didn’t fit into a lot of college recruiters’ box and he came here and was a great player for us,” Mary Hardin-Baylor coach Pete Fredenberg recently told the Belton (Texas) Journal.
“He’s done the same thing with the NFL. [Tennessee signed] him out of college because of the way he played and then were disappointed in his size. Then he went to Canada and just set the place on fire. He’s about 230 [pounds] and has to fit into the scheme. He is going to be a real asset to the Colts and is in a situation where he can make the team.”
Freeman certainly hopes so. With Angerer sidelined at least six weeks with a fractured foot, he appears to be the frontrunner to take over one of the Colts’ two inside-linebacker positions.
“I mean, of course, it’s an opportunity to show everybody what you got. I’m always proving myself coming from Division III to the CFL. I’ll be proving myself for the rest of my career, so I don’t mind that at all,” he said after Wednesday’s morning practice.
The possibility of taking over for Angerer is a bit easier because of the relationship that has developed between the two players over the past few months.
“Pat and I actually worked together a lot. We talk and if he sees something or I see something, we’ll talk to each other. It’s a pretty good lockerroom, pretty good teammates in there. We work well together,” Freeman mentioned.
“This is a new defense. They haven’t been in the defense, so everyone is learning together. It’s a process, but luckily we have guys with experience like [first-team inside linebacker] Kavell [Conner] and Pat, even [injured inside linebacker] A.J. [Edds]. It’s just a lot of guys that understand the game, know the game and help me if I don’t know anything. We help each other a lot.”
I I I
n New Jerry Hughes? — It’s safe to say that no player on the Colts’ current roster raises more questions than defensive end-turned-outside linebacker Jerry Hughes.
A first-round draft pick by Indianapolis in 2010, his two-year stint with the team has been anything but spectacular.
Hughes has accumulated just 15 total tackles and one sack as a backup defensive end. Where was the guy who led the NCAA in sacks (15) as a college junior or earned All-American status (11.5 sacks) as a senior at Texas Christian?
Good question. For whatever reason, Hughes didn’t seem to mesh with the Colts’ previous 4-3 defensive system. Conversely, he seems to have found a new home playing outside linebacker under coach Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 hybrid scheme.
Two sacks in last week’s 38-3 preseason win over St. Louis has renewed hopes for extending his NFL career.
“It’s a fun [defensive] system. We’re going out there and he’s putting 11 guys out there on the field that are going to run around and make plays. So it’s a lot of fun but now we’re just getting used to the playbook, getting used to each other so that way we can be quick and on all cylinders,” Hughes said Wednesday, adding that he’s not going to get caught up in what, or what didn’t happen, the last two seasons in Indianapolis.
“I don’t really focus so much on the past. The past is the past. I can’t fix it. I can’t change it. I just go ahead and just worry about the future. I got my mind set on this season and doing what it takes to kind of get the Colts back in the winning light like we’re used to.”
He seems to be enjoying trying to learn a new position. Prior to last spring, Hughes had never played linebacker.
“It really is a new position to me. I’ve never played outside linebacker, so I’ve been up here since April kind of getting used to the playbook, getting used to the coaches. We’re just trying to work and I’m just trying to get better so that I can continue to play fast,” he said.
“Yeah, this is pretty much brand new. In college, I was a defensive end. So I don’t really know too much about dropping or reading [pass] coverages or anything like that. This is a little bit of transition. Everybody’s been up here working hard and we’re just trying to put in the work so it will pay off on Sundays.”
n Roster moves — The Colts signed free-agent linebacker Mike Balogun on Wednesday and waived/injured rookie cornerback Buddy Jackson.
Halogun (6-0, 250), a former collegiate linebacker at Oklahoma, was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers in 2010. He has also had stints with the Redskins, Buccaneers, Bills and Cowboys. Jackson had been signed by Indianapolis as an undrafted free agent in late April.
In other roster updates, the Colts signed free agent running back Alvester Alexander on Tuesday evening and waived/injured linebacker Scott Luttrus. Alexander (5-11, 204), who played collegiately at Wyoming, was initially signed as an undrafted free agent by Chicago this past spring.
n Luck watch — Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck completed 31 of 39 passes with three touchdowns and two interceptions during Wednesday’s seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills.
Luck has now thrown more than 400 passes in live drills since the start of training camp and that total jumps to more than 500 passes when all other drills are included.
Backup quarterback Drew Stanton had a pair of touchdown passes to receiver Jeremy Ross, both coming during the team’s final two-minute drills.
n Colts’ alumni coming tonight — According to Pagano, at least 20 former Indianapolis players are expected to be on hand for tonight’s (6:30 p.m.) practice.
Slated to attend are Bill Brooks, Rick DeMulling, Ray Donaldson, Stan Eisenhooth, Tarik Glenn, Mark Herrmann, Darvell Huffman, Danny Kight, Chukie Nwokorie, Mike Prior, Gary Padien, Tony Walker, Devon McDonald, Roosevelt Potts, Damon Watts, Reggie Thornton and Hunter Smith.
The workout will be the second of two schedule night workouts. The Colts will wrap up training camp with a public morning practice at 9:45 Friday.
“We’ve got a lot of situational stuff, a lot of team stuff [to work on during the practice],” the first-year coach said. “For the fans, they’ve been awesome the whole time [in Anderson]. So it will be a last shot for them to come out. Hopefully the weather will hold out.
“We have like 20 alums, I guess, coming [to the practice]. Colts greats that we’re looking forward to having here at practice. We’ll welcome those guys in. But just like anything else, [we want to] just come out and get better.”
The Indianapolis Colts have had good luck, for the most part, when adding former Canadian Football League players to the team’s roster.
Colts' coordinators enjoying getting rookies acclimated
While the Indianapolis Colts put their rookies and a handful of second-year players through workouts this weekend at the team’s Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, a pair of first-year coordinators are getting a chance to do some valuable on-field work as well.
Werner, 36 others open Colts’ mini camp
The Indianapolis Colts welcomed 37 players to the start of the team’s rookie mini camp Friday at the West 56th Street headquarters.
Colts hoping for more high marks on draft picks
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts received high marks for the impact players the team added through the NFL draft.
Of the 10 players selected, five ended up either starting or seeing extensive playing time (quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and running back Vick Ballard) during the Colts’ 11-5 season.
While this year’s class may not rival that group in terms of name recognition and flash, it may produce just as many major contributors once the 2013 season gets underway.
Werner at top of game
Bjoern Werner was a late comer to football. But after being selected in the first round of the 2013 National Football League draft by the Indianapolis Colts, Werner realizes that he has reached the pinnacle of the sport in a relatively short amount of time.
Colts select pass rusher Werner in first round
The Indianapolis Colts selected Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner. The 6-foot-3, 266-pound defensive lineman can also play left outside linebacker.
Colts in wait-and-see mode for tonight’s NFL draft
As the 2013 NFL draft gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Indianapolis Colts are continuing their wait-and-see stance in regard to the first-round pick.
The draft begins at 8 p.m. — televised by the NFL Network and ESPN — with the Kansas City Chiefs making the night’s first selection. Teams will have 10 minutes to make their decisions during the first round. Indianapolis will have the 24th overall pick in the first round.
There will be only one round tonight. The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with seven minutes allotted per pick in the second round and five minutes allowed in the third. The final four rounds are slated to begin at noon Saturday with four minutes between selections.
As it stands now, Indianapolis does not have a second-round pick. It was traded to Miami last fall in exchange for veteran cornerback Vontae Davis. But second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has nut ruled out the possibility of trading down from the first round if the Colts aren’t satisfied with the players available.
Direction clear for Colts in 2013 draft
The Indianapolis Colts head into the 2013 NFL Draft with some definite plans.
Colts veteran among those excited to see Luck's growth in 2013-14
Veteran defensive end Cory Redding is a big fan — literally and figuratively — of Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck.
Redding, who has become one of the Colts’ lockerroom leaders after just one season with the team, thinks he has some reasonable expectations of Indianapolis’ former No. 1 draft pick.
Heyward-Bey feeling fortunate to hook up with Luck
Add one more player to the list of veteran free agents signed by the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.
Former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey agreed to a a deal with the Colts late Monday evening. Bey, who played collegiately at Maryland, was the seventh player selected in the first round of the 2009 National Football League draft.
Colts sign nose tackle
Another day, more player signings for the Indianapolis Colts.
Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin agreed to terms with the Colts on Tuesday evening and officially signed with the team Wednesday. Franklin (6-1, 315) is a 10-year NFL veteran with stops in Baltimore (2003-06), San Francisco (2007-10), New Orleans (2011) and San Diego (2012).
Colts sign Matt Hasselbeck to back up Luck
The Indianapolis Colts’ roster moves just keep coming.
While the Colts haven’t yet added that big-name wide receiver that team owner Jim Irsay hinted at in tweets over the weekend, Indianapolis has addressed one area on offense.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had agreed Monday night to be the Colts’ primary back-up to second-year starter Andrew Luck. He officially signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the team Tuesday morning.
“We are very pleased to announce the signing of Matt Hasselbeck,” general manager Ryan Grigson said in a prepared statement. “His body of work, intangibles, and extensive league experience speak for themselves. Those factors, plus his familiarity with our offensive scheme, will make him a great asset to our team and its vision as we move forward.”
Colts likely done signing free agents, for now
With the possible exception of adding a few lesser-priced players, the Indianapolis Colts’ big-time foray into the veteran free-agent marketplace is pretty much done.
Landry, Jean Francois join Colts defensive unit
After adding five veteran free agent players to the Indianapolis Colts roster on Tuesday, general manager Ryan Grigson plucked two more plums late Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.
New York Jets safety LaRon Landry and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois both signed contracts with the Colts. Landry, a strong safety who appears to be a bigger version of former Indianapolis Pro Bowler Bob Sanders, and the versatile Jean-Francois are expected to make immediate impacts on the Colts’ defensive unit.
Colts introduce free-agent signees
What the Indianapolis Colts accomplished last season — posting an 11-5 record and earning an AFC wild-card berth with a young team plus having that kind of success without its head coach on the sidelines for 12 games — didn’t go unnoticed by players around the NFL.
That was especially true for the five veteran free agents who were added to the Colts’ roster Tuesday. Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (Detroit), cornerback Greg Toler (Arizona), outside linebacker Erik Walden (Green Bay), offensive guard Donald Thomas (New England) and linebacker Lawrence Sidbury (Atlanta) admitted as much Wednesday.
“I felt like this would be the best fit for me at this point in my career. I really liked what I saw was happening with the program here and the way things have taken shape. I feel like we have a really great team here and it’s on the rise. I really wanted to be a part of that,” Thomas said during a teleconference interview with the Colts’ media.
Colts sign five free agents, filling needs at offensive line, cornerback
The Indianapolis Colts were a busy team on the opening day of the National Football League’s veteran free agent market, which got underway at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Jeff Saturday retires as a Colt
An Indianapolis Colt for life. Pencil in Jeff Saturday for that honor.
The 14-year veteran center in the NFL put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — when Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday thrilled to retire as a Colt
The 14-year veteran center in the National Football League put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in-between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — that Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday to retire as Colt on Thursday
Former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday will make his retirement from the National Football League official on Thursday.
Indianapolis franchises punter McAfee
A week ago, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said it was a priority that the team retain the services of punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee, an unrestricted free agent who’s contract is due to expire March 12, was designated as the Colts’ franchise player Friday. The move allows Indianapolis extra time to work out a long-term deal for the team’s special-teams ace.
“He’s huge. He’s a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we’ve reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed,” Pagano said during the National Football Scouting Combine. “We saw what he did for us last year. He’s a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touchbacks.
Colts GM enjoying time at combine
Indianapolis Colts second-year general manager Ryan Grigson makes no bones about it. He enjoys watching prospective football players strut their stuff.
Colts keeping eye on large crop of talented linemen in NFL Draft
According to most National Football League draft observers, this year’s crop of prospects is deep with quality offensive and defensive linemen.
Among the offensive line candidates who have been showcasing their talents at the National Football Scouting Combine, which began in earnest Thursday and wraps up on Tuesday, the spotlight has been on the offensive tackles. Offensive left tackles in particular.
Colts' Pagano back to full work schedule at combine
Back and ready to go.
That’s the attitude Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is taking during the National Football Scouting Combine, which completed its second day of operations Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. During a wide-ranging press conference at the combine, Pagano confirmed that he is back to a full work regimen after missing 12 games last fall as he battled a rare form of leukemia.
After undergoing cancer treatments that featured heavy doses of chemotherapy, the second-year head coach was able to return to the sidelines for Indianapolis’ final regular-season home game against Houston and for the team’s AFC wild-card matchup with eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
Colts looking forward to different approach to draft in 2013
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick in the 2012 National Football League draft.
It was a foregone conclusion that the Colts would select former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the selection. While Indianapolis front office and player personnel officials certainly had to do their due diligence in preparing for the draft, the Colts find themselves this year in a bit different situation.
The team will have the 24th overall pick in the first round, which is a double-edged sword. Indianapolis picks lower in the round due to a successful season. But the pool of available can’t-miss talent isn’t quite as plentiful as drafting earlier in the round.
Former Pro Bowl selection Freeney won't return to Colts
The news coming out of the Indianapolis Colts headquarters Friday afternoon was not totally unexpected. Team officials have confirmed that two veteran players – former Pro Bowl defensive end/outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Austin Collie — will not be returning for the 2013 season.
Colts’ new offensive coordinator will offer variety
Quarterback Andrew Luck running the Pistol offense? Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton lining up in the Wildcat?
Colts moving on to the off season
Moving on. That’s the immediate plans for the Indianapolis Colts as they head into the off season.
Baltimore ends Indy’s playoff run early
The Baltimore Ravens want one long final ride for Ray Lewis. Having disposed of Andrew Luck and the Colts, they now face a more imposing challenge.
Next up, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Switching sides: Colts-Ravens matchup includes old friends on new teams
Just as Baltimore Ravens players and coaches will be seeing some old friends returning to M&T Bank Stadium today, several Indianapolis Colts veterans will also have an opportunity to renew acquaintances with a familiar face.
Pagano prepares Colts for tough crowd in Baltimore
As a former resident of Baltimore, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano knows all about the hard feelings that still run strong about the move of the Colts franchise to Indianapolis in 1984.
Pagano marvels at Colt’s progress
In the minutes after last Sunday’s win over AFC South champion Houston, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano marveled at how the 2012 season has progressed for his team.
- More Colts Headlines
- Colts' coordinators enjoying getting rookies acclimated