When Ryan Grigson is building the backend of his 53-man roster, he is looking in particular at one specific unit.
Special teams was a priority that Colts Owner Jim Irsay pointed out to when hiring a new general manager and head coach a year ago this month.
Back during the summer, Grigson said that putting together a formidable special teams unit was something he ‘strived’ for and that was evident with its success this season.
“There’s an alert that’s next to the grade on the back end of the grade and it’s an alert that shows the player that has the makeup to be a core special teamer,” Grigson said in evaluating his roster.
“We really feel strongly about that part of the team.”
In the return game, the Colts broke a pair of touchdowns in the second half of the season and seem to have found an electric punt returner in T.Y. Hilton.
The big play ability of Hilton was a focal point offensively, but that trait also carries over to the return game.
“In terms of the draft I think we showed that by trading up to get T.Y. (Hilton),” Grigson said of the team’s diligence to address special teams.
“Without explosive returners how are you going to have great special teams? You can open up lanes and you can do this or that but you have to have explosive athletes that aren’t going to get caught.”
While Hilton began to receive a lot of attention near the end of the season, Grigson also wanted to point out the Colts punt coverage unit that included gunner Joe Lefeged.
Despite having to slide over to punt protector late in the season, due to an injury to safety Tom Zbikowski, Lefeged still led the team with 16 special teams tackles.
“He’s what you want in a core special teamer,” Grigson said of Lefeged. “He’s an eager beaver, he’s very confident, he makes plays, his motor doesn’t stop and he runs a 4.4 and he’s got good football intelligence, so he’s got a lot going for him.”
Along with Lefeged, gunner Sergio Brown (10 special teams tackles) excelled on the punt coverage unit.
Grigson feels that new special teams coach Tom McMahon has the pieces in place to build a strong special teams unit with plenty of depth for years to come.
“We want this thing to be a battle for them for starting spots,” Grigson said. “Chuck (Pagano) and I want there to be a spirit of competition in training camp like no other because it brings the best out of all of us, it really does. We’ll continue to do that every year no matter how deep this roster gets.”
Tags: Joe Lefeged, T.Y. Hilton
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