ANDERSON, Ind. -- It’s a sight that started in the middle of June during the Indianapolis Colts' mandatory three-day minicamp and carried over to this very day. It’s also a sight that you easily could rub your eyes multiple times to make sure you were seeing things correctly.
Colts cornerback Greg Toler's career has been full of injuries. That's why it’s easy to understand if you’re a little confused when you realize he’s been the only member of the team’s projected starting secondary who took part in all three days of minicamp and has been a regular during training camp.
Toler knows people don’t have much faith in him to stay healthy. That's because he's yet to play in all 16 games in a season during his five-year career.
The Colts are a significantly better secondary with Toler on the field.
“It’s tough,” Toler said with his voice lowered. “Injuries come with the game, unfortunately. And unfortunately I’ve dealt with more than I like. Being out there with the fellas right now is overwhelming. Last season was tough because I’d see things sitting on the sidelines and wishing I could be out there with the guys. Mentally I was into the game, but physically wasn’t there. My brain says go, but my body wouldn’t allow me to.”
The Colts were at their best when Toler and fellow cornerback Vontae Davis were on the field together. Davis and the rest of the secondary fed off Toler’s aggressive defensive approach.
Things changed, though, when Toler injured his hamstring in the Colts’ Week 7 victory against the Denver Broncos. The Colts decided against placing Toler on injured reserve because there was a belief that he would be able return to the lineup.
Toler came back after eight weeks for the Dec. 22, 2013, game at Kansas City only to end up not being a factor because the cold conditions never allowed him to loosen up his hamstring. He returned for the AFC wild-card playoff game against the Chiefs. His night got cut short because he re-injured his hamstring. Toler ended up having surgery for a sports hernia during the offseason.
“I tried to fight through it, but it got the point I pulled [the hamstring] completely,” he said. “That’s when the doctor said it’s time for surgery.”
While Davis and safety LaRon Landry have missed most of training camp with groin injuries, Toler has been one of the standouts so far. He’s recorded several interceptions, including one where he leaped in the air and took it back more than 90 yards on a play where quarterback Andrew Luck was running the hurry-up offense.
“He’s had as good of a camp as anybody,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “He’s been spectacular. He’s been consistent. More importantly it is a health issue with him. He understands it. We understand it. But he’s being pro-active. He’s being better than he’s ever been as far as taking care of his body.
“He said it, he feels like he owes it to his teammate, owes it to himself and the organization to be available and out there. He’s taking care of business not only on the football field and the meeting room, but doing what he has to do as far as getting his rehab, treatment, all that.”