INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts came into their bye week feeling pretty good about themselves.
And why not? After all, the Colts were sporting a 5-0 record, are one of five NFL teams with an unblemished record, and have a whopping three-game lead in the AFC South standings.
On top of that, it looks very much as if several injured starters — such as safety Bob Sanders (knee), cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) and Marlin Jackson (knee), and offensive tackle Charlie Johnson (knee) — are close to returning to the practice field on a regular basis and might be available to play in the team’s Oct. 25 road game at St. Louis.
But then some distressing news began to emerge over the last couple of days. First, third-year defensive tackle Ed Johnson, who returned this season after being waived early last year due to his arrest for marijuana possession and speeding, was unexpectedly placed on waivers Tuesday.
And then it was announced on Wednesday that veteran placekicker Adam Vinatieri would be sidelined for at least the next four-to-eight weeks after undergoing surgery on his right knee.
Vinatieri initially had surgery on both his right knee and right hip during the offseason. His most recent medical procedure was performed Tuesday in order to remove a piece of cartilage.
“Last week, Adam felt his knee was giving him a little bit of a problem. [He] had an MRI. He tried to fight through it, wanted to fight through it because he’s obviously a real warrior. But we felt that the best way to handle this situation was to go ahead and get him operated on. They saw some loose cartilage in there and straightened that out. We felt as if he got it done now, it gave us kind of an extra week with the bye week. So it’s going to be somewhere around four to eight [weeks] as opposed to having it linger and pop up later on in the year. We felt that was the best course of action,” Colts coach Jim Caldwell said Wednesday.
Indianapolis officials moved quickly to replace him on the roster, bringing in former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens placekicker Matt Stover.
Stover, who had been released by the Ravens during the offseason, had also a recent tryout with the New York Giants. He had spurned an opportunity earlier in the season to return to the Browns.
“In [deciding to have Vinatieri undergo surgery now], we had to go out and look for someone to take his spot in terms of handling our kicking duties. And we found Matt Stover. Matt’s obviously a true professional. He’s a guy that certainly has been around the block a bit, 18 years in the league. Certainly a true professional in everything that he does and in the way he conducts business. We’ve competed against him a number of times over the years. And so we know what kind of craftsman he is in terms of his ability to kick. We’re happy to have him.”
Caldwell stressed that character issues were not the reasons that the team decided to cut it ties with Johnson for the second straight year. This time, the move was based solely on game performance — or rather the lack of it.
Also, in order to make room for Stover and still keep Vinatieri on the active roster, the decision was made to part ways with Johnson. The former Penn State had just nine total tackles (eight solo) in the four games that he started this season.
“I know that some wondered whether or not it was a character issue. It was not. What we have to do, and it’s not easy, what we have to do when we get to these situations we have to take a real good look at our roster and see where we might be able to make an adjustment here or there to get an extra guy on it. [The decision to cut Johnson] was more production than it was anything else. That was his situation,” the Colts coach said.
“I’d probably just like to keep [the reasons for waiving Johnson] rather general and say it was production. It was a lack thereof.”
Stover glad to be with the Colts — It may bother some of his former fans in Baltimore, but Matt Stover is happy to be playing in Indianapolis.
“The opportunity for me to come and be with a team such as the Indianapolis Colts is just a great privilege for me. Being in the league now going on 20 years, to be a part of something special like this, the opportunity showed itself,” he said Wednesday.
A hunting buddy of Vinatieri’s, the 41-year old kicker still feels as if he has something to contribute in the NFL. He was released by the Ravens this past offseason after playing 13 seasons with the team. He also was with the Cleveland Browns before they moved to Baltimore in 1998.
“I kept the cleats on during the offseason. I made sure I stayed healthy and stayed in shape, just in case an opportunity showed itself, and it did. The opportunity here to kick is awesome. I’m very privileged to be here.
I’ve always said if I can’t kick a 52-yard field goal, then I won’t kick. So, I’ve been able to kick 52-yard field goals. We worked that out in the workout [Tuesday]. It is just a privilege to continue to play,” Stover said.
“I had a great opportunity there in Baltimore for all those years, nothing bad to say there, I wish them the best. But, when it comes down to it, I’m a Colt today. I’m here to help the team get to a Super Bowl. That’s what I’m about right now. There are no personal things, its just about helping the team get there. Adam Vinatieri, you cannot replace. Fantastic guy, fantastic friend. We hung together up in South Dakota, so I’ve known Adam for quite some time. What a stand-up guy. He’s dealing with a knee right now. He could be back, but he may not. I’m here just to make sure this team continues to go in the right direction. And if it needs to be into the Super Bowl, I’m ready for that, too.”
Stover had an inkling that something might be up last week, prior to the Tennessee game, when he received a heads-up from Vice President of Football Operations Chris Polian.
“It was very fast. But I had an understanding last week from Chris Polian that it possibly could come about. To tell you the courage that [Vinatieri] had to go out there and kick with the conditions in his knee shows you the type of guy he is,” he explained.
“For me to come into this opportunity and step in for him, as quickly as I did, meaning [Tuesday] I flew in, worked on the contract last night and signed it [Wednesday] morning. We were out there kicking individually and today working with the team, what a great opportunity. Now I have a few days to get off, get back home, and get all the things settled and be ready to come in and kick against the St. Louis Rams.”
As for those fans in Baltimore, Stover hopes that they’ll stick with him.
“I’ve got a pretty good following there. I’ve got a really neat fan base. I was very privileged to be a part of [the Ravens success]. I think I’ve got enough people that understand me and know that I’m a competitor. It doesn’t have to do with Baltimore and Indianapolis and that competition,” he said.
“I wasn’t part of that [the Colts move from Baltimore to Indianapolis]. But I understand that being that I was with Cleveland going to Baltimore. So I was part of that separation there. Really, at this point, I’m hoping that they’re for me. I don’t know if they’ll ever be for the Colts. But I hope they’ll be for me.”
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts came into their bye week feeling pretty good about themselves.
Luck having fun with his first OTAs
A year ago, quarterback Andrew Luck was unable to attend the Indianapolis Colts’ organized team activity practices due to school commitments at Stanford.
Luck, though, went on to have a stellar year for the Colts despite the lack of summer work with the team. Still, in a sense, he is a rookie during this year’s OTA workouts.
“These are my first OTAs. I missed these last year, so I think it’s great. It’s great to get on the field with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff. Obviously, some of us ran some of this stuff [offense] at Stanford [under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton]. But to get out there with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff is good,” Luck said Wednesday as the team wrapped up its first week of on-field voluntary practice sessions.
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.
- More Colts Headlines
- Luck having fun with his first OTAs