The Herald Bulletin

June 11, 2013

Landry makes instant impact for Colts

By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin

---- — INDIANAPOLIS — It took just two snaps during 11-on-11 drills for LaRon Landry to make an impact during his first practice with the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday.

Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne leapt to make a catch in the left flat, and the new strong safety came roaring in behind him. Landry arrived about the same time as the ball, briefly made contact with Wayne and sent the six-time Pro Bowler tumbling to the turf.

By NFL rules, mini-camp practices are held without pads, and contact is prohibited. Landry's brush with Wayne clearly wasn't intentional, but head coach Chuck Pagano still walked over and draped his arm around his starting safety's shoulder, talking with him all the way back to the huddle.

Recalling the scene after practice, Pagano couldn't stifle a wry smile.

"It is a mandatory mini-camp, but we still got to play by the rules," Pagano said. "I'd much rather have to put my arm around a guy and slow him down rather than have to go the other way. (Landry) understands the tempo. He understands the pace. He understands how we go."

And, deep down, the Colts coach no doubt hopes the collision is a tiny preview of things to come.

Indianapolis hasn't seen the likes of Landry since Bob Sanders, the NFL's 2007 Defensive Player of the Year, was roaming the defensive secondary.

He has a physique that would be right at home in this weekend's Superman reboot film, "Man of Steel." But it's a different comic book denizen that resides in Landry's locker — Marvel's enigmatic Red Hulk.

Landry calls the character — who looks very much like the mainstream Incredible Hulk, except for the change in hue — his "alter ego." He's had the figure since his college days at LSU, and he displays it in different poses each day to reflect his mood.

On Tuesday, its arms were raised in apparent celebration.

That no doubt came as a relief to Landry's teammates, who wasted little time mentioning the intimidating figure he adds to the roster.

"Heck, I was a little scared when I saw him," defensive end Cory Redding said. "A presence like him in the backfield intimidates receivers, and you want that kind of mentality on your defense. He fits right in with what we're doing. He fits right in with our attitude. He's going to be a nice player for us."

Landry's addition is just one piece of a rather extensive overhaul in the defensive secondary.

Cornerback Vontae Davis was added last year just before the start of the regular season in a trade with the Miami Dolphins, and the Colts signed the other likely starting cornerback — Greg Toler — as a free agent from the Arizona Cardinals in March.

Toler has looked impressive in offseason practices, continuing his string of highlight-reel plays with a breakup of a deep pass intended for second-year receiver T.Y. Hilton on Tuesday.

And while Landry also was impressive in his Indy debut, he spent the rest of the offseason training in private at a facility near Scottsdale, Ariz. Toler said the three-day mandatory mini-camp is essential for building chemistry among the defensive backs.

After Thursday's final practice, the team won't gather formally again until training camp begins at Anderson University in late July. Toler's looking forward to the 2013 season with great expectations.

"I always say to myself I think we have the potential to be the best secondary in the league," Toler said. "We look great on paper. Now we just got to put it on the field, take the Xs and Os and execute what we're capable of doing on the field. I think we're going to set the bar high, and I think we can execute it."

If so, Landry — who made his first Pro Bowl appearance last year in his only season with the New York Jets after five seasons with the Washington Redskins — will play a major role.

The Jets' defensive scheme is similar to the Colts', and Landry is familiar with free safety Antoine Bethea from joint offseason workout sessions over the years in Arizona.

He said everyone in Indianapolis has made him feel at home and admitted he had some pent-up energy to expend on the practice field. He also left no doubt about the role he sees for himself with the Colts.

"I'm going to give 110 percent all the time," Landry said. "I do anything to help my team win. Anything. So that's what they are going to get from me, a guy who put me on the front line and I'm doing it for the guys behind me."