AFC South: Arthur Jones

INDIANAPOLIS -- Delano Howell's starting résumé consists of three games during his two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Now Howell appears to be in line to be the Colts' starting safety next season, replacing long-time starter Antoine Bethea , who signed with San Francisco in March.

Howell
That became even more evident when the Colts decided against selecting a safety in the draft. Howell will have some competition for the spot, but the job is his to lose. Sergio Brown, Corey Lynch and Colt Anderson are in the mix for the job, too.

A key for Howell will be whether he's able to be interchangeable with Landry and also have good cover skills -- the main two things coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson are looking for.

"All I think back to is Delano Howell," Pagano said. "We went out and beat a pretty good football team (San Francisco), I think he started at safety that game and had, I don't know, six, seven, eight tackles or something, was pretty productive in that ball game. He returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown against Seattle. He's not the only one. We've got guys in-house that will be great competition there."

Howell started three games in place of the injured LaRon Landry last season. The Colts won two of those three games. Howell totaled 21 tackles in his three starts.

Howell is the quiet teammate in the locker room, the one you have to seek out because he's not a jokester or one who's always talking. He's the same soft-spoken teammate quarterback Andrew Luck had while at Stanford.

"Very much the sort of strong, silent type, the Clint Eastwood type," Luck said. "Say a little, do a lot. He's been that way for a long time, which makes it really fun to play with him."

The Colts think the signing of linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and defensive lineman Arthur Jones will help ease some of the burden on the secondary. Bethea ended his time with the Colts by having four straight seasons with at least 100 tackles.

"I feel good about the guys that are here and I think at the end of the day, we bolstered our front seven," Pagano said. "The better the front seven is, the more pressure you can put on the passer, it certainly helps the back end."
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts entered free agency last month with the fourth-most salary-cap space ($41 million). General manager Ryan Grigson was very open in saying that they weren’t going to be free spenders on the market.

He was right.

The Colts have been one of the least active teams in the NFL when it comes to signing players that were on other teams last season.

The fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information say the Colts are tied for the second fewest free-agent/trade additions with only four players being signed.

The Colts have signed receiver Hakeem Nicks, defensive lineman Arthur Jones, center Phil Costa and linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. The Colts still have about $13.4 million in salary-cap space available.

Here’s a breakdown of the teams that have made the fewest moves and most moves so far during the offseason:

 

Colts don't want to pigeonhole Jones

March, 27, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS – New Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones didn’t want to reveal too much when asked about if he would be playing more defensive tackle than end next season.

Jones
A. Jones
Colts coach Chuck Pagano answered the question during the NFL owners meetings earlier this week.

Well, sort of.

“I’m not going to pigeonhole by saying he’s an inside guy or an outside guy,” Pagano said. “He brings position flexibility to our front. He’s a sub-rusher on third down. He can give you inside push, he can beat guys one-on-one. He has sack numbers for an inside guy.”

Pagano was Jones’ defensive coordinator during his rookie season with the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. Jones went from having 20 tackles and zero sacks his rookie season to having 53 tackles and four sacks last season, and now he’ll try to be just as effective in Indianapolis.

“He’s really matured as a young man,” Pagano said. “He knows our scheme. Terminology won’t be an issue. It’ll be a seamless transition for us.”

Pagano’s goal is to have a defensive front that has players who can play multiple positions so that they can constantly rotate them in so in the fourth quarter they’ll still be relatively fresh. Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who missed part of last season with a foot injury, can play on the end.

The Colts were abysmal at stopping the run last season, finishing 26th in the league in that category, and linebacker Robert Mathis had 19.5 of their 42 sacks.

“You can never have enough defensive linemen,” Pagano said. “We roll those guys all the time and try to keep them fresh. If you can play with six, seven guys in the defensive front by the time fourth quarter comes around and everybody is still fresh, it’s going to play to your advantage.”

The Colts currently have seven defensive linemen on the roster: Montori Hughes, Ricky Jean Francois, Arthur Jones, Fili Moala, Jeris Pendleton, Cory Redding, and Josh Chapman.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Defensive end or defensive tackle?

Jones
A. Jones
New Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones can play both positions, but he’s not tipping his hand on which one he’ll play more next season.

“I’m not going to give anything away,” Jones said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “You guys are going to have to wait until training camp to find that out because I don’t want anything out that [coach Chuck Pagano] doesn’t want out.”

Jones will help the Colts no matter if he plays defensive end or tackle. He called it a “no-brainer” to sign with Indianapolis once he hit the free-agent market. He signed a five-year, $33 million contract earlier this week.

The winning tradition and familiarity with Pagano and fellow defensive lineman Cory Redding made it an easy decision for Jones. Pagano was Jones’ defensive coordinator and Redding was a teammate of his during his rookie season with the Baltimore Ravens.

“It’s always easy to go to a place where you see and know familiar faces,” Jones said. “It’s kind of like the first day of school. You are waiting at the bus stop looking for someone you know. [Pagano] brought so much passion to the game and a guy that loved his job and really loved football. Anytime you have a coach like that, that loves to win, you would love to go to war for him.

“[Redding] was my mentor in the big brother program they had in Baltimore. He was a guy that helped me mature and showed me the ropes, how to be a professional.”

Jones was real coy in talking about where he’ll play with the Colts next season. He did at least acknowledge that he spent more time playing defensive tackle last season with the Ravens when he had 53 tackles and four sacks. That’s good news for the Colts because they need help stopping the run up the middle. The Colts were 26th in the league in stopping the run last season.

“Yeah, I would say that’s safe to say, definitely,” Jones said when asked if he was brought here to help stop the run. “But you never know, though, you may see me on passing downs, too.”

INDIANAPOLIS -- Vontae Davis had to his due diligence and listen to other teams.

But deep down inside Davis knew he wanted to return to the Indianapolis Colts. Davis knew the Colts were more than just a football team that practiced together and took the field together on Sundays. There's a brotherhood inside the organization, the kind Davis didn't have in his three seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

That's why brotherhood -- and a whole lot of money -- brought Davis back to the Colts. He agreed to a four-year, $39 million contract that included $20 million guaranteed.

“I hate for it to be the business side,” Davis said. “If there wasn't a business side of football and it wasn't about business, I would still choose to be back with the Colts. So that just says a lot about how strong the organization is. My teammates are like brothers. It's a brotherhood. When you go to the Colts, it's something that you hold with you for the rest of your life.”

Davis was the primary target for the Colts when it came to re-signing their own players. He has the talent to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league. It's simply a matter of putting it all together and avoiding lapses in his play.

“He is a rare talent at 25 years of age who is still ascending as a player,” Colts GM Ryan Grigson said. “We are excited to see him reach new heights in his career and help us attain our ultimate goal.”

The Colts showed their faith in Davis by giving him such a lucrative deal. It's said with money comes pressure.

Not so, Davis said.

"You can't let it impact (your play)," he said. "If I was making a dollar, it wouldn't matter. You just have to go out there and play. The organization has trust in me enough to obviously bring me back. I just have to continue to work hard and I think everything will work out for itself.”

The Colts had a solid tandem at cornerback with Davis and Greg Toler -- when he was healthy -- last season. Davis fed off of Toler's aggressive approach. Davis' best game was against the Denver Broncos when he had five tackles and two passes defended. He was so worked up that he referred to Peyton Manning as New England's Tom Brady in a postgame interview on the field.

Davis joined linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, defensive lineman Arthur Jones and safety/special teams ace Sergio Brown as defensive players the Colts signed on the first day of free agency.

“Every team, coming into the season is a new year,” Davis said. “We have to come in and work hard to get back to where we were at last year. I think just moving forward, coach (Chuck) Pagano, Grigson, they're doing a great job of building this team up.”

Reading the coverage: Cushing doing MMA

April, 9, 2010
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Houston Texans

Linebacker Brian Cushing has turned to mixed martial arts as a form of offseason training.

Former Texans receiver Donovan Morgan is working to get another shot at landing on an NFL roster.

Indianapolis Colts

John Oehser tries to get a better idea of whom the Colts will draft with their first-round pick.

Might Syracuse’s Arthur Jones be an option? Stampede Blue offers some thoughts.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Walter Curry is back in Jacksonville, continuing his pursuit of the NFL dream.

While answering readers’ questions, Vic Ketchman isn’t buying into the idea of the Jaguars drafting Tim Tebow.

Tennessee Titans

Jim Wyatt says acquiring Albert Haynesworth would be a “reputation-changing move” for Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt.

If the Saints are interested in adding free agent quarterback Patrick Ramsey, they may have some competition in the form of the New Orleans Saints.

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