The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Sports

March 15, 2013

Colts confident in free agent haul

— Ryan Grigson emerged from his self-described “bunker” Friday and made his first public comments about the Indianapolis Colts’ free agent frenzy this week.

The second-year general manager said he wanted to take advantage of the team’s sizeable salary-cap room, and he had the full support of owner Jim Irsay along the way.

“He’s as passionate if not more passionate than any of us,” Grigson said during a news conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. “When you talk to him, he wanted to be aggressive. I wanted to be aggressive. (Head coach) Chuck (Pagano) did because we want to win. I think you have to take these opportunities to acquire talent whole-heartedly, and I feel we did as an organization.”

The Colts added seven players during the first three days of the new National Football League year, which began Tuesday. Much of the focus went to a defense that ranked 21st in scoring last season and 29th against the run.

The new faces include safety LaRon Landry, defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, outside linebackers Erik Walden and Lawrence Sidbury and cornerback Greg Toler.

Indianapolis has a reported $13 million in salary-cap space remaining, but it made no further additions Friday. The team did, however, release safety Tom Zbikowski after one season in the Circle City.

That continues an extensive makeover that also has seen the departure of cornerback Jerraud Powers and outside linebacker Dwight Freeney.

Even in a down season, Freeney ranked second on the team with five sacks, and there have been questions about whether the Colts have done enough to improve a pass rush that produced just 32 sacks last year.

“I feel really good about it,” Pagano said Friday. “I think we’ve still got a beast in Robert Mathis getting after the quarterback, a guy like Ricky Jean. We’ve got guys that are already here that have shown the ability to rush the passer.”

Indianapolis’ ability to pressure the opposing quarterback also could benefit from another year of experience in Pagano’s hybrid 3-4 scheme.

Though he’s a newcomer to the Colts, the versatile Jean Francois could be among the keys. He played under current Indianapolis defensive coordinator Greg Manusky early in his career in San Francisco, and he is familiar with the Colts’ system.

At 6-foot-3 and 295 pounds, Jean Francois has the versatility to play all across the defensive line. That will help Indianapolis add to its complexity, shifting in and out of 3-4 and 4-3 fronts to keep offensive lines guessing.

“Ricky is a guy that you add in sub situations that they moved around (in San Francisco) that can give you some inside push,” Pagano said. “The numbers, you aren’t going to look on your computers and look up and see great sack totals or anything like that, but I think all his football is ahead of him in that regard.”

The Colts also are hoping Walden’s best football is yet to come. The former Green Bay Packer’s four-year, $16 million deal has been one of the most heavily criticized moves of the offseason so far.

Statistical analysis website Pro Football Focus has ranked Walden as the league’s worst outside linebacker in each of the past two seasons,  but Grigson and Pagano see traits they believe will make him a better fit for the Colts’ defense.

“He’s a high-motor guy,” Pagano said. “He’s an energy guy. A lot of that stuff, he’s got a great repertoire of pass-rush moves and things like that and a lot of tools in his toolbox. But a lot of it is just outworking guys, and this guy’s got a motor that doesn’t stop.”

Indianapolis chose Walden over the top pass rushers on the market — Paul Kruger and Cliff Avril — and Grigson said he first noticed the linebacker years ago during the NFL Network’s early training camp coverage.

“You could just see him playing at a different speed from everyone else in terms of just his hustle and the way he gets after it,” Grigson said. “He’s a very confident guy. He has the will to get to the quarterback. Sometimes it’s more about the will than anything.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SPT - HB0419 - Muller final - 077 Arabians make history in Muller thriller Pendleton Heights beat Anderson 3-2 to become the Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament's first repeat champion.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • 500 Festival Mini Marathon might not fill field

    With less than two weeks to go, the 38th 500 Festival Mini Marathon might not have a full field for the first time in 12 years.

    April 20, 2014

  • Lady Ravens refusing to lose

    The Anderson University softball team swept Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Transylvania University on Saturday at Raven Field to finish a perfect 8-0 at home this season.

    April 19, 2014

  • Arabians win third straight County softball title It was a scenario Pendleton Heights had seen before. The game was scoreless late into the championship game of the Madison County softball tournament.

    April 19, 2014

  • Bulldogs rally past Eagles at Muller Kallen Brooks went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, including a walk-off double in the eighth inning, and Lapel rallied to defeat rival Frankton 3-2 on Saturday at Memorial Field.

    April 19, 2014

  • Eagles stop Lions to claim third place Frankton's Tia Sharp drove in three runs including the game-winner in the bottom of the sixth as the Eagles defeated Liberty Christian 11-1 here Saturday.

    April 19, 2014

  • PH pushes across only run in 7th

    After Frankton's Kyleigh Garner and Pendleton Heights' Bailey Benefiel battled one another to a standstill from the pitcher's circle for six innings, it took one mistake in the seventh to decide the outcome.

    April 19, 2014

  • SPT - HB0419 - County track - 116 Arabians sweep track titles again Beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures greeted the competitors at the Madison County track meet Friday at Madison-Grant. The Pendleton Heights boys and girls teams were looking to take the county for the third year in a row, but Anderson and Lapel had other ideas. It started off as a record-setting meet and finished with a bang as Pendleton was able to wrap up both titles. The girls held off a stiff challenge from Lapel to win 167.5-147, and the boys took the final event of the night to squeak out a 156.5-148.5 win over Lapel.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Arabians clip Eagles, go for Muller repeat The competitive feeling at Pendleton Height’s Bill Stoudt Field quickly faded Friday during the semifinals of the Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament. The Arabians once again took advantage of the opposing team’s generosity as Frankton pitchers gave up six walks and hit five batters, and Pendleton Heights took the 14-3 victory.

    April 18, 2014

  • Arabians win County net title with 5-0 shutout

    An intriguing battle awaited and there was no indication what the team scores would be. Considering the Frankton Eagles had home court advantage, the Pendleton Heights Lady Arabians came hungry for the Madison County tennis title. Pendleton aced a 5-0 win and came away with the crown.

    April 18, 2014