Ryan Grigson’s connection with the Philadelphia Eagles helped contribute to three trades for the Colts last season.
The Colts general manager dipped back into that well on Thursday afternoon when Indianapolis acquired Eagles fullback Stanley Havili in a trade for defensive end Clifton Geathers.
How does this trade impact the Colts?
One of the first questions offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was asked upon arriving to Indianapolis was if he would utilize a fullback.
In 2012, rookie tight end Dwayne Allen was the Colts primary fullback (h-back) and players such as running back Robert Hughes and inside linebacker Mario Harvey also saw time at the position.
With Havili, the Colts are adding a versatile threat out of the backfield and the USC product set a Trojans’ school record in receptions for fullbacks.
Last season, Havili played in 15 games for the Philadelphia Eagles carrying the ball six times and catching seven passes.
The 245-pound fullback will be entering his third season in the NFL and adds another dimension to Hamilton’s offense. The Colts offensive coordinator preached that he wanted multi-faceted players to line up in a variety of spots and Havili appears to fit that role.
On the other side of the football, Geathers played in eight games at defensive end for the Colts last season.
Geathers, who was signed on Oct. 3 by the Colts, added much needed depth during the season when the Colts began losing bodies (Fili Moala and Drake Nevis) at the defensive end position.
The Colts are expected to have Moala and Nevis back in the fold this season and have added Ricky Jean-Francois in free agency. That trio goes along with Cory Redding and Lawrence Guy (who both started in the AFC Divisional Round game against the Ravens). Kellen Heard and Ricardo Mathews also bring depth along the outside of the three-man front.
Tags: clifton geathers, cory redding, drake nevis, Fili Moala, Kellen Heard, Lawrence Guy, Pep Hamilton, Ricardo Mathews, Stanley Havili
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If Ryan Grigson’s future draft classes can come close to mirroring the same amount of success his first one in Indianapolis accomplished than the Colts will be a force for the years to come.
The rookie class amassed an NFL record 3,108 yards this season thanks to a handful of skill position players.
Defensively, fifth round pick Josh Chapman is still waiting in the wings after the defensive tackle missed the entire season rehabbing a knee injury.
Grigson beams when talking about his rookie class but he also adds a few names to that group.
What about Bradley Sowell?
The Colts plucked the undrafted free agent off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad on Sept. 11 and Sowell played in 10 games this season.
“Bradley Sowell is a guy, I think he has true left tackle ability,” Grigson said. “It will make himself more valuable if he settles in at right so he can play both.”
Sowell saw his most playing time in the AFC Wild Card loss to the Ravens when he was thrust into action after right tackle Winston Justice went down with an injury in the first quarter.
“Brad is going to be a much better player because of that experience. He fought his tail off.” The Colts GM said
What about Lawrence Guy?
With the defensive line ravaged with injuries, Guy was signed off the Green Bay Packers practice squad on Oct. 17 and played nine games, including starting the final three contests of the year.
Grigson also points to Nathan Palmer, who was signed off the San Francisco 49ers after going undrafted, as a receiver that the General Manger calls ‘about as explosive a receiver we have.’
The headliners from this rookie class will still be Luck, Hilton Ballard, Allen etc. but it’s the guys on the backend of the roster that Grigson points to in completing a group that will play a leading role in the future of the Colts.
“Getting those guys is exciting because those are guys that we looked at in the draft and we were able to get without burning a pick,” Grigson said.
“It may be a warped view but I feel like those guys we poached from other teams practice squads early this season, those guys to me feel like draft picks. The nice thing about that is it’s only going to serve us well in the future because what we’ve been through this year as a team and as human beings.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, Bradley Sowell, Coby Fleener, dwayne allen, josh chapman, LaVon Brazill, Lawrence Guy, nathan palmer, T.Y. Hilton, vick ballard
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Throughout the first three months of the season, the Colts defense has had to deal with injuries in each respective position group.
Perhaps no position has been hit as hard as the outside of the defensive line.
Nose tackle Antonio ‘Mookie’ Johnson has been a mainstay in the middle of the 3-4 hybrid defense but the players flanking the nose position will be ever-changing the rest of the season.
Fili Moala and Drake Nevis were placed on injured reserve at different times this month, sending Ricardo Matthews into the starting lineup.
The loss of Moala and Nevis means more playing time for Clifton Geathers, who was signed by the Colts at the start of October when Moala was inactive for four weeks.
“It’s hard to see a player go down,” Geathers said. “Fili and Drake, they helped me out a lot but as football goes on I do look at this as another opportunity, another football game, another day to get better.”
Geathers and defensive end Lawrence Guy (signed on Oct. 17) will take on a greater role in the coming weeks as the Colts continue to plug in interchangeable parts along the defensive line.
“We’ve just done a good job around here of having guys pick up the baton,” outside linebacker Dwight Freeney said. “Really hats off to management on bringing the right guy in so that he can fit right in and it’s not really a big deal. Obviously, it’s a big deal because you don’t want to lose Fili, you don’t want to lose those guys but it’s football and unfortunately these things happen.”
Earlier this week, the Colts signed defensive tackle Kellen Heard and interim head coach Bruce Arians is anxious to see the 6-foot-6-inches, 339-pound Heard in action.
After injuries with outside linebackers Robert Mathis and Freeney early in the season, the Colts defense was just starting to get completely healthy in the front seven before the losses of Moala and Nevis.
“When I look out there right now, the core guys are there,” interim head coach Bruce Arians said.
“We’re going to miss Fili (Moala), but we didn’t have him for three weeks, we know how to play without him, it’s not the first time. So plug in the guys that we have and never use it as a crutch or an excuse.”
Tags: Antonio Johnson, bruce arians, clifton geathers, drake nevis, Dwight Freeney, Fili Moala, Kellen Heard, Lawrence Guy, robert mathis
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Trying to guess who the Colts will have available in the front seven of the defense on Sunday is like solving a 1,000-piece puzzle.
Inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Kavell Conner, defensive end Cory Redding and nose tackle Antonio Johnson are the four players in the front seven who have been in the starting lineup for each of the Colts five games this season.
After those four, it has been a wait and see approach week-to-week for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
For the second straight week, the Colts will be without defensive tackle Fili Moala.
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis is hoping to return to the lineup after missing the Jets game with a knee injury.
Redding’s status is up in the air after leaving the Jets game in the first half.
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer is looking to see his first action of the season as a foot injury during the preseason has sidelined the Colts leading tackler from last season.
The Colts are already without nose tackles Brandon McKinney and Martin Tevaseu.
Defensive linemen Ricardo Matthews and Drake Nevis have seen action in every game this season and their health has been critical among a defensive front that has seen its fair share of fronts.
Currently three Colts defensive linemen on the active roster have been in Indianapolis for less than two weeks (defensive end Clifton Geathers was signed on Oct. 3, nose tackle Antonio Dixon was signed on Oct. 9 and defensive end Lawrence Guy was signed on Tuesday).
Offensive coordinator/interim head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t know who will be out there on Sunday, but can’t thank his staff enough for dealing with so many new faces.
“It’s a credit to the coaching staff to do what they’re doing. Our backup defensive line right now has a cumulative after today 10 practices. So, that’s a lot of new.”
“(Defensive line) Coach (Gary) Emanuel is earning his paycheck and he’s doing a heck of a job and we’ll see how it goes. We might get fortunate enough to get a couple guys back and they won’t have to play. But we’ll get ready for them to play and we’ll see how it goes.”
Freeman, the Colts leading tackler, hasn’t been in the NFL for more than a year but even he admitted that it seems like he’s introducing himself on a daily basis.
“New guys coming every day. That’s just the nature of this business,” Freeman said. “People come and go all the time. I just have to do what I can to keep my spot, keep my position.”
The middle of the front seven has remained intact (Johnson, Freeman and Conner) through the first five games but it’s the outside that has needed to be reshuffled.
Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney missed two of the first three games of the season and the Colts are still waiting to get their Pro Bowl duo on the outside together for longer than one game.
Mathis considers himself a fast healer and while he is hoping to play this weekend, he knows whoever is on that active roster must accomplish the task they were brought in to do.
“Whoever’s out there has to do their job. Everybody is here because they are special in some way. If you are on the field, you have to do your job, whether it’s pass rushing, defending passes, or throwing passes. You just have to get the job done.”
Tags: Antonio Dixon, brandon mckinney, bruce arians, Clfiton Geathers, cory redding, Dwight Freeney, Fili Moala, gary emmanuel, Greg Manusky, Jerrell Freeman, kavell conner, Lawrence Guy, Martin Tevaseu, pat angerer, robert mathis
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