Whatever decision the Indianapolis Colts ultimately make on who will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2012, the job will ultimately be in good hands.
The Colts can opt to re-sign four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning when his $28 million team bonus comes due March 8. Conversely, Indianapolis officials also can release Manning and choose between Stanford’s Andrew Luck or Baylor’s Robert Griffin III when it comes time to use the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL Draft.
Or the team can have the best of both worlds by keeping the franchise’s iconic signal-caller around a while longer and selecting one of the two highly rated prospects. The possibilities are interesting, to say the least.
Conventional wisdom has the Colts and Manning — who has undergone four medical procedures on his neck over the past 19 months — parting ways after 14 successful seasons. And if there ever was a time for a split to occur, this would appear to be the perfect situation because Luck and Griffin are considered “can’t miss” candidates.
Which is why all eyes were on the two former college QBs when they met with the media Friday at the National Football Scouting Combine. They didn’t disappoint.
Griffin, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, was loose and relaxed. He was impressive, composed and sure of himself. Luck, on the other hand, was a little more reserved, but answered questions confidently. Both were imminently likeable and said the right things.
Neither will throw during the combine, planning instead to wait until their own personal on-campus workouts later this spring.
Instead they will meet with teams for one-on-one interviews, undergo medical tests and go through a few on-the-field drills. Griffin has already talked to Philadelphia and was scheduled to get together with representatives from Kansas City and Cleveland on Friday evening. Luck, meanwhile, met with Colts quarterback coach Clyde Christensen on Thursday night.
“On the field, we’ll be running. Get out there, move around, have fun, compete. Just looking forward to just show [teams] who I am. Let them get to know me, I get to know them,” Griffin said, adding that it was his own decision not to throw this weekend.
“You don’t go somewhere and run a game plan. You don’t throw to guys you don’t practice with. And you’re in an environment that you’re not prepared for. That’s why [he’s not going to throw]. I’m just really excited to really show them who I am as a person. Happy go lucky, like to make people laugh but know when to be serious as well.”
Luck said that after talking with his father — former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck — as well as his agent, he made the decision to sit out the combine’s passing drills.
“Nobody advised me not to throw. Now is not the place. I made the decision by myself. I bounced it off my agent and my father and felt like it was in my best interest to wait until Pro Day,” he explained.
When the topic of Manning came up, both were respectful of the situation. They also didn’t shy away from the idea of serving an apprenticeship for a couple of seasons if need be.
“I’ve talked to Peyton a couple of times. I wish him the best. I hope what he wants can come about from the situation. It would be amazing for him to stay in Indy and play out his career,” Griffin said. “I would embrace [playing behind Manning]. It’s not very often you get chances to play or to be on a team with a legend like that and learn from a guy like Peyton.
“Definitely, I would come in and compete to be that starter. But I definitely wouldn’t be upset if Peyton Manning was the starting quarterback of the team that I’m on. It would be an honor to sit behind him and learn. I’d hold that clipboard with pride. I’d have no problem with that. I wouldn’t come in and demand to be the starter.”
Luck had a similar response.
“I understand it’s a possibility [of being drafted by the Colts]. Peyton was my hero growing up. He was my football hero. That’s who I modeled myself after in high school. You never truly replace a guy like that. And who knows what happens. So many different things can happen,” he said.
“I understand the speculation. But nothing’s happened yet. I haven’t been drafted by any team. And obviously, with Peyton, that’s still going on with the Colts. It’s not uncomfortable. I understand the questions have to be asked. If I have an opportunity to learn from a guy like that, of course I’m going to take advantage of it. Absolutely. If you have a chance to learn from a guy like Peyton Manning, if that chance arises, you’d better take advantage of it. He’s arguably the best quarterback ever.”
• Quarterback tidbits — Luck was coached in college by former Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who proceeded Manning as the starter in Indianapolis. Harbaugh is part of the team’s Ring of Honor at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Know all about [Harbaugh’s career with the Colts]. Captain Comeback and all that,” Luck joked.
Griffin, meanwhile, comes from a strong military background as his father was in the service for 21 years and his mother served for 12 years.
“They served in two wars, so discipline was something that was obviously huge,” he recalled. “When you say you’re going to do something, you do it. When you start it, you finish it. You’ve got to have that kind of structure in your life. So that helped me be that disciplined person that I am.”
He was recruited to Stanford by Harbaugh, but opted instead to go to Baylor.
“[Luck] was already committed and the two-quarterback thing doesn’t work. So I didn’t want me to be the one to transfer or Andrew be the one to transfer, so I decided to go to a different college,” Griffin said. “But I liked Stanford and Coach Harbaugh.”
Whatever decision the Indianapolis Colts ultimately make on who will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2012, the job will ultimately be in good hands.
- Pro Sports
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.
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.
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 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.
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' 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.
Harbaugh brothers — Jim and John — to face off in Super Bowl
Get ready for the Brother Bowl.
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.
It's a job, not a reunion, Luck says
Andrew Luck made one thing clear this week.
He doesn’t regard Sunday’s game at Reliant Stadium with the Houston Texans as a chance to go back to his home town and talk about old times.
Colts’ meeting comes on heels of Texans’ big loss
The Indianapolis Colts are quite aware of who, and what, they’re going to be facing Sunday at Reliant Stadium.
Former Illinois star Meyers Leonard living the NBA dream
One thing is for certain. Meyers Leonard of the Portland Trail Blazers doesn’t need 40 minutes to incite a crowd with a posterizing slam dunk or a big shot block.
At just 20 years of age, the former Robinson, Ill., standout who took his talents to Champaign for two years is getting his feet wet at the highest level of basketball.
Close to 300 fans, many of whom watched Leonard take the Maroons to the 2010 IHSA Class 2A state championship, rode on charter buses to watch him battle the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis last week.
Update: Ravens dismiss former South standout Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator
Former Terre Haute South High School football and basketball standout Cam Cameron was fired Monday as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, who have lost two straight and are still striving for consistency in the running and passing game.
Leonard has moment for highlight reel, but Pacers come away with victory
One night after pulling even with the Chicago Bulls for first place in the NBA’s Central Division, the Indiana Pacers at least maintained that advantage thanks to another big game from Paul George.
Titans to sport new look vs. Colts
Even though the Indianapolis Colts won the first meeting with the Tennessee Titans, interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians doesn’t think it will help his team Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Lions present many challenges for Colts
Finding a way to stop, or at least slow down, the Detroit Lions’ fast-paced offense is the primary goal of Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
Wild card looking mighty doable right now: Colts improve to 7-4 with win
Don't look now, but the upstart Indianapolis Colts have jumped to the front
of class when it comes to securing one of the two available wild-card berths
in the upcoming AFC playoffs.
‘Resilient’ label fits Colts
If there is a word that best describes the 2012 Indianapolis Colts, it just might be “resilient.”
Do-or-die Bills next for Colts
Indianapolis Colts interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is quite aware that the Buffalo Bills are coming into Sunday’s game at Lucas Oil Stadium (1 p.m. kickoff, CBS Sports) facing a do-or-die situation in regard to the postseason.
How will the Colts rebound vs. the Bills?
The big question for the Indianapolis Colts as they prepare for Sunday's home game with Buffalo is a pretty simple one.
Colts healthy entering key road game
If all goes well during today’s short walk-through practice, it appears the Indianapolis Colts will be in pretty good health heading into Sunday’s nationally televised (4:25 p.m., CBS Sports) road game with the New England Patriots.
Colts, Patriots renew rivalry for 10th straight year
Once again, Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., it’s the Indianapolis Colts playing the New England Patriots.
Times have changed
A lot has changed for the Indianapolis Colts since a 22-17 home loss to Jacksonville on Sept. 23.
For starters, that’s the only game the 1-7 Jaguars have won this season. Indianapolis, meanwhile, has posted wins in four of its last five games and is rolling along with a 5-3 record.
Many Colts point to that loss in the third week of the season. Indianapolis led 14-3 at the half and were ahead 14-13 after three quarters of play.
In fact, the Colts led 17-16 with 0:45 remaining in the game. That’s when Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert connected with speedy wide receiver Cecil Shorts III on an 80-yard pass play that resulted in the final margin of victory.
Colts not carried away with success
The Indianapolis Colts have surprised many fans and media around the NFL by getting off to a 4-3 start this season.
Not pretty, but Colts take win
Strictly from an aesthetic point of view, the Indianapolis Colts’ 17-13 National Football League win over the Cleveland Browns wasn’t very attractive.
Browns rusher has taken criticism from Hall of Famer to heart
Trent Richardson has a point to prove.
Colts wish linebackers could play more at same time
If the Indianapolis Colts could get both of their starting outside linebackers — Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis — on the field together for more than four quarters this season, it would be interesting to see how quickly the team’s defensive unit could continue its development.
Pagano gives Colts 4 days off
With a bye this weekend, the Indianapolis Colts went through a short week of practice before taking a long four-day weekend.
Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano put the Colts through workouts Tuesday and Wednesday before allowing the team to scatter across the country.
Players are due back Sunday evening as Pagano and his coaching staff hope to hit the ground running heading into Indianapolis’ Oct. 7 home game with Green Bay.
Tentative agreement reached on NFL referees' contract
The NFL and the referees’ union reached a tentative contract agreement at midnight today, ending an impasse that began in June when the league locked out the officials and used replacements instead.
“Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night” for the Cleveland-Baltimore game, Commissioner Roger Goodell said after a day of marathon negotiations.
With Goodell at the table, the sides concluded two days of talks with the announcement of a tentative eight-year deal, which must be ratified by 51 percent of the union’s 121 members. They plan to vote Friday.
Colts receiver Collie will miss season with knee injury
Indianapolis Colts receiver Austin Collie will miss the rest of the season with a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee.
Wide receiver Avery starting to feel at home with Colts
Count Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians as two of Donnie Avery’s biggest supporters.
The Colts’ wide receiver, who has struggled with knee issues the last two seasons after being the first receiver selected in the 2008 NFL draft, opened a lot of eyes in last Sunday’s 23-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Avery hauled in nine passes for 111 yards in the victory, his first big performance since joining the team as an unrestricted free agent last March.
- More Pro Sports Headlines
- Colts hoping for more high marks on draft picks