NFL Nation: Laron Landry

Examining the Indianapolis Colts' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
This is the safest position on the roster for the Colts. They plan to always keep a veteran backup if Luck ever goes down with an injury.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

The Colts will have a solid running combination if -- and we’re saying if until proven wrong -- Richardson can bounce back from a poor first season in Indianapolis and Bradshaw and Ballard can stay injury-free. Havili, a fullback, gets the edge over Mario Harvey, who switched from linebacker to fullback during offseason workouts.

RECEIVERS (5)

The final receiver spot will come down to Rogers and Griff Whalen. If the Colts want to play it safe, Whalen is the guy because he’s familiar with Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, but Rogers has the size and speed the team likes. There’s also the possibility of the Colts keeping six receivers.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

Allen, who missed all but one game in 2013, and Fleener have the potential to be one of the top tight end duos in the league. Doyle and Saunders are both familiar with the system after backing up Fleener in Allen’s absence last season.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

There are plenty of questions surrounding the offensive line outside of tackles Castonzo and Cherilus. The one thing general manager Ryan Grigson wanted with this group is depth. The Colts have plenty of it.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)

Like the offensive line, the Colts want depth on the defensive line so they can constantly rotate in players, so come the fourth quarter they still have fresh legs to get after the opponent. Jones was the key offseason acquisition for the Colts. Chapman showed flashes last season; now he needs to do it every snap that he’s on the field.

LINEBACKERS (10)

All eyes will be on outside linebacker as the Colts look to find a replacement for Mathis, who is suspended for the first four games of the season. Werner gets the first crack at starting in Mathis’ spot. McNary is a player for whom Grigson has high expectations. It’ll be up to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on how he uses McNary.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)

It’s anybody’s guess how the secondary will perform. It’s anybody’s guess who will start alongside Landry at safety. It looked like it would be Howell for most of the offseason, but the Colts signed the veteran Adams in June. Can Toler finally remain healthy? Can Davis live up to his contract? So many questions with no answers at the moment.

SPECIALIST

This only changes if an injury occurs.

Camp preview: Indianapolis Colts

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
10:00
AM ET
» NFC Preview: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL Nation’s Mike Wells examines the three biggest issues facing the Indianapolis Colts heading into training camp.

Khaled Holmes: Colts general manager Ryan Grigson took a big gamble in the offseason by not heavily pursuing a veteran center. He signed Phil Costa, who was beaten out by a rookie in Dallas, only to have the veteran suddenly retire before ever playing a snap for the Colts. Even with Costa on the roster, the plan all along for the Colts was for Holmes to start. This is the same Khaled Holmes who managed to play a total of 12 snaps as a rookie, despite poor play by Samson Satele at the position last season. Grigson has constantly defended Holmes ever since, pointing out that the second-year player would be his starter. The goal is for Holmes to team with franchise quarterback Andrew Luck for years to come. Holmes needs to have good chemistry with Luck and control the line of the scrimmage, all while making sure the rest of the offensive linemen know the correct calls. That’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a player who is basically a rookie, especially when you think about the expectations the Colts have this season.

Safety: Similar to his decision at center, Grigson didn’t look far outside the organization to address a position of need. Veteran Antoine Bethea left Indianapolis to sign with San Francisco, and it appeared Delano Howell was the frontrunner to start alongside LaRon Landry at safety. Things seem to change in the middle of June, when the Colts signed veteran Mike Adams. Adams has started 73 games in his 10-year NFL career, but even though he says he feels like he’s 26 years old, he’s actually 33. Howell has started only four games in his career. And speaking of Landry, he didn’t exactly ease anybody’s mind about whether he’ll be able to rebound from a disappointing first season with the Colts. He didn’t attend any of the voluntary offseason workouts, then showed up at the mandatory minicamp with what was described as a soft-tissue injury. While the offseason workouts are voluntary, it would have helped Landry if he had at least attended a few of the sessions. Grigson and Colts coach Chuck Pagano didn’t criticize Landry for not showing up, but they did point out their preference of wishing he was in attendance. If anything it would have showed that Landry cared about working on chemistry with the rest of his defensive teammates. There are too many questions surrounding the safety position on a defense that was way too inconsistent last season.

Trent Richardson: The excuses are no longer available for Richardson in the Colts organization. The ready-made line of, “Richardson is still learning the offensive system,” is in the trash on the curb. Richardson, who the Colts acquired from Cleveland just days before Week 3 last season, has had an entire offseason to learn the playbook. Now he can use his natural instincts when he’s on the field, instead of constantly trying to remember the plays. The Colts clearly are trailing the Browns in the who-got-the-better-of-the-trade race. Cleveland turned the No. 26 pick into hotshot quarterback Johnny Manziel after using it to trade up to No. 22. The Colts? All Richardson gave them was 2.9 yards a carry and a demotion to the second unit last season. Richardson and the Colts have to hope this season is different. The pressure is on Richardson, because Grigson said earlier this year he would make the trade again if put in the same position. Richardson, the No. 3 overall pick in 2012, had offseason shoulder surgery and will head into training camp as the starter, with Ahmad Bradshaw ready to take some snaps from him if he struggles.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts starting safety LaRon Landry wasn't required to take part in the team's organized team activities because they're voluntary. The three-day mandatory minicamp is the only time players are required to report to the team's facility.

Three days.

But Landry was not on the field for the first day of minicamp Tuesday.

Landry
The reason?

He hadn't undergone the required physical yet. This isn't a new physical that's being required, but it's the same physical veteran players are required to take before minicamp every year.

“(Monday night) we had an administrative meeting,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “(You) can't do any football first day. Every single vet on the football team, except the rookies have to go do physicals.”

Landry, by the way, was the only veteran player who did not take part in minicamp Tuesday because he didn't take his physical. He's also the only player not to be in facility during the offseason. Landry doesn't work out with the team during the offseason because he prefers to work out on his own. He's one of the more fit players in the NFL, but it's more than about being in shape.

Landry's about to have a new starting safety playing alongside of him, the Colts struggled as a defensive unit last season and Landry didn't have a great first season with the team. He missed four games with an ankle injury while finishing with 96 tackles and no interceptions.

“LaRon works as hard as anybody, wished it was here most of the time,” Pagano said. “I know that he's working. He probably does too much.”

As far as other players who missed Tuesday's session, defensive lineman Cory Redding was excused to tend to a family matter. Cornerback Vontae Davis has a groin injury and Pagano said safety Delano Howell is dealing with a soft tissue injury without going into specifics.

As expected, receiver Reggie Wayne (knee), running back Vick Ballard (knee) and offensive lineman Donald Thomas (quad, bicep) also didn't take part.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The final significant days of the offseason for the Indianapolis Colts (outside of when commissioner Roger Goodell disciplines owner Jim Irsay) starts Tuesday at the team's facility when they begin the first of three days of mandatory minicamp before breaking up for the final time prior to reporting for training camp July 23.

Let's take a look at several things to pay attention to during the camp:

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsThe competition at running back, including Trent Richardson, won't be decided in this week's mandatory minicamp.
Offensive line battle: You can go ahead and put Khaled Holmes down as the starting center, but with Donald Thomas (quad, bicep) still working his way back, the starting guard positions could end up taking some time. Hugh Thornton, who took Thomas's spot after he was injured last season, has been working with the first team at right guard during organized team activities. Lance Louis had been working with the first team at left guard, but rookie Jack Mewhort, the Colts' second-round pick, moved ahead of him last week. The competition will intensify during training camp.

Running back competition: Just like the battle for the starting guard position, we won't get full competition for the starting running back position because Vick Ballard (knee) isn't expected to take part, as he's still working his way back from ACL surgery. Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw, the other two primary candidates, both wore red non-contact jerseys during OTAs. So this is another competition that won't pick up until training camp. All three players will get playing time, but keep in mind that coach Chuck Pagano said earlier in the offseason they want a workhorse in the backfield.

Landry sighting: Safety LaRon Landry has been the most significant healthy player missing during OTAs. It's not required for players to attend OTAs and Landry prefers to work out on his own during the offseason. But it still would have been good if he would have popped in for some of the workouts because of the need for improvement for the defense, the transition from a seasoned veteran in Antoine Bethea to possibly Delano Howell, who lacks significant experience, and Landry simply didn't have a great first season with the Colts. The offense, as long as Andrew Luck is the quarterback, will be fine. He's shown he can be effective even without good blocking. The same can't be said about a defense that finished 20th in the league last season.

The Bjoern factor: The fact linebacker Robert Mathis (suspension) won't be with the Colts the first four games of the season has definitely sunk in. Now it's up to second-year player Bjoern Werner, who gets the first shot to start in Mathis's absence, to prove he was worth the Colts selecting him in the first round after an inconsistent rookie season. "This year it's just knowing the defense and to feel comfortable in the defense," Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. "Now it's just his ability to get to the passer, which it's kind of you want him to do that in these OTAs, but he's never really going to get there because you don't have the pads on. But he's been doing a great job at least from the calls and signals and getting everything lined up and knowing exactly what he's supposed to do. It's a great situation for him."

Can Adams help: The Colts signed veteran safety Mike Adams over the weekend to take Corey Lynch's spot on the roster after placing him on injured reserve. Howell is leading the race to start, but Adams has started 73 games in his career. The question about Adams is: Does he have enough left in his 33-year-old body to help the Colts and possibly supplant Howell as the starting safety alongside Landry?

Who won't be there: Barring a sudden change of events, here are the players -- not including those on injured reserve -- you won't see taking part in minicamp. Receiver Reggie Wayne (knee), Ballard (knee) and Thomas (quad, bicep).
INDIANAPOLIS -- The assumption heading into the draft was that the Indianapolis Colts would use one of their five picks on a safety.

Seventeen safeties were picked during the three-day draft. None of them were selected by the Colts.

"There’s a small handful of guys in this draft that we felt like we could go get, it just didn’t happen," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "But it was not a deep safety class and if there was a safety we liked, we would have took one."

So as of now, in-house players Delano Howell, Sergio Brown, Corey Lynch and Colt Anderson, who have combined to start 22 games, are the stop candidates to man the starting safety spot opposite of LaRon Landry next season. Longtime Colts safety Antoine Bethea signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March.

"You don’t just because of need go reach and try to grab and fill a need when the value’s not there," coach Chuck Pagano said. "I feel good about the guys that are here and I think at the end of the day, we bolstered our front seven with acquiring D’Qwell Jackson and Art Jones and the two defensive players we picked up. The better that front seven is, the more pressure you can put on the passer, it certainly helps the back end. We’ll be fine."
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Remember last year in free agency, when the New York Jets lost LaRon Landry, Dustin Keller, Mike DeVito and Shonn Greene?

General manager John Idzik, who took a lot of criticism for the exodus, admitted Wednesday that the decision to let those players walk was based, in part, on knowing they'd receive compensatory draft picks for the losses.

The Jets ended up receiving the maximum number of compensatory picks (four), giving them a total of 12 picks in next week's draft.

"The compensatory draft-pick system is always in your mind," Idzik said at the team's pre-draft news conference. "It's a factor. It's not the determinant, but it's a factor."

A number of well-respected teams, namely the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens, have maximized their compensatory picks. Now the Jets get a chance to cash in. The third day of the draft (rounds four to seven) will be hectic, as the Jets have nine picks over the final four rounds.

Not everyone is a fan of collecting compensatory picks.

"We never went into free agency saying, 'Let's let Bobby and Billy go so we can get a compensatory pick to replace them,'" said ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, a former coach. "We never said, 'Let's not sign a free agent because it will hurt our ability to get a compensatory pick.’"

The Jets' compensatory picks: Fourth round (No. 137 overall), sixth round (No. 209), sixth round (No. 210) and sixth round (No. 213).

Numbers game: A lot of work goes into a draft. It takes almost a full year for the entire scouting process. Former GM Terry Bradway, the senior director of college scouting, provided his annual numbers breakdown, illustrating the point:

Number of schools visited: 263.

Number of school visits: 575.

Number of players written up in scouting reports: 1,372.

Number of player evaluations: 3,500.

Player interviews: 635.

Pro days attended: 115.

College games attended: 120.

The numbers remain fairly steady from year to year, and you can bet every other team is doing the same amount of homework.

Riddick on DeSean Jackson, Part 2

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
4:30
PM ET
Louis Riddick wasn't surprised by DeSean Jackson's release. He also knows what Jackson would provide a team, having arrived in Philadelphia the same year as Jackson (2008) and rising to become the Eagles' director of pro personnel two years later. Riddick, now an ESPN NFL Insider, offers insight into what Jackson would provide an offense and how the Redskins, or any team, need to have a well-constructed plan. This is Part 2 of Riddick's thoughts; Part 1 ran earlier on Monday.

Jackson arrives in Washington Monday, but the bulk of his visit will take place Tuesday, a team source said.

Were you surprised by his release?

Louis Riddick: From a football sense, sure. From a team sense, no. The battle that team builders have all the time, the battle they fight, is weighing off-field personal character with on-field skills and potential production. … It’s a lot easier to do it at this point because Chip Kelly is the new sheriff. The investment emotionally and professionally is not bad for him. He wasn’t the guy who decided to give him an extension or who called him on draft day. So it’s easier for him to say if you’re not doing things exactly the way I want, you’re out. It’s obvious that it shows Chip is in charge because two years ago the same people who decided to give DeSean an extension are still there. I have a hard time believing it’s easy for them to say two years later now we’ll cut him. They know DeSean; they know the good and the bad. This is Chip’s decision. He’s running things there.

[+] EnlargeDeSean Jackson
Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesNew regimes face unique challenges when considering adding a veteran like DeSean Jackson, who has established a way of doing things.
DeSean has growing up to do. That’s fine. That’s not a crime. That’s just the way it is. You’re not dealing with the easiest guy to deal with. That’s been known. I played with players like that, as teammates, as friends. That’s OK. You just better have a plan. Everybody is at different stages in their program. Philadelphia is a year into their program build. So they’re still trying to implement and get to where everyone they have is on board with it and Chip was the overseer of that.

The Redskins are three months into their new program. Now you’re considering bringing in a player who doesn’t fit with one program. You don’t know what the program will be yet because you haven’t seen it in action yet. They haven’t been around you. You haven’t interacted with them in a setting that matters and now you’re possibly taking on the task of implementing a guy who likes to do things in a certain way and you don’t know how he’ll do them in your program. I know it sounds redundant to say you have to have a plan, but the implementation part of player acquisition is where it all goes wrong. They spend so much time daydreaming how beautiful it can look on the field. I lived through it.

He’s a guy who could make an impact with just one or two catches, as the Redskins saw in 2010. He had that opening touchdown and one other catch in that game. Yet he made a huge impact.

Riddick: He did that kind of thing multiple times during my time in Philadelphia, as someone who was very involved with advance scouting and how we attacked opponents back then. Every week we’d ask, is there someone on that defense we can exploit and match up our No. 1 game-breaker against? We knew he would turn them inside out.

The first play against LaRon [Landry] -- he’s a 4.3 guy in the 40 -- and DeSean basically strided past him and it didn’t look like he was even trying. The ball was in the air and you saw him kick into another gear. But it wasn’t a strain, it was, ‘OK, I need to go from sixth gear or seventh gear.'

DeSean’s top-end speed is transcendent. It’s not like anything you’ve really seen in the NFL ever. That’s the intoxication I’m talking about when scouting a guy like him. In this case you have to weigh that with the fit and the program you have in place and whether it can be managed, whether he is still maturing and still wants to change some of the ways he conducts himself in the building, in the classroom or on the practice field. The Redskins have largely a new staff, especially on offense. It’s a total unknown and there are people there who have never proven themselves as administrators in this regard.

Can it help Jay Gruden having seen how Marvin Lewis implemented plans when bringing on guys like Adam Jones in Cincinnati?

Riddick: Marvin was established. Mike Zimmer was there and that played a role in implementing a plan. He had a nice program rolling there. You’re talking about a place where the coaching staff has been together since January. They’ve never been on the field with these guys. It’s a lot for them, but if they feel up to it, more power to them.

Redskins should say no to Jackson

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
5:55
PM ET
He only needs one play to change a game -- and you never know when it will come. In 2010, it came on the first play of the game, with then-Redskins safety LaRon Landry probably still in full yapping mode.

And DeSean Jackson's 88-yard touchdown catch ignited one of the most explosive nights by an offense you’ll ever see. By the way, Jackson had just one catch after that touchdown. But no matter; he had done what the Eagles needed. Jackson did this quite often, and it’s why he’s a fantastic talent.

Now he’s free. So now comes the question: Should the Washington Redskins pursue?

[+] EnlargeDeSean Jackson
Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesDeSean Jackson is among the most explosive receivers in the NFL, but might fit best with a coach who has worked with him before.
No. The best place for Jackson to land is with a coach who has a history with him: Andy Reid, Marty Mornhinweg. Both their teams -- the Chiefs and the Jets -- are interested. And that’s telling. To best deal with Jackson, you had better really know Jackson. You can’t just sign him thinking he’d be a great fit because he has a lot of talent. You must know him, have a history with him. That is, if you want the best chance to make the investment work. This isn’t just about alleged gang ties, it’s about having the infrastructure to handle Jackson. The Redskins have not yet shown they can handle a talented but, perhaps, difficult player -- especially one they don't really know.

It would be a tough job for a first-year head coach.

Besides, if I'm his agent, I'd steer him to a coach who knows him well.

In the past 10 days, I had a brief conversation with one person in the Redskins' organization about Jackson. The question wasn't whether the Skins would have interest, but rather why the Eagles would consider releasing such a talent. It was a casual conversation, so I’m not going to repeat what he said, but I can safely say that one person in the Skins' organization would not be interested. Does that mean others would not be, or that they wouldn’t at least inquire? Can’t say that.

Nobody doubts Jackson’s ability, but can you trust him going forward? If multiple teams have called about him, as has been reported, then the price will be out of the Redskins’ range anyway.

We don’t know if Jackson indeed had gang ties, as has been alleged. He says he doesn’t. But if nothing else, the image he presents in certain pictures would likely scare some teams.

Then again, the Redskins are interested in Kenny Britt, who has been arrested at least nine times to Jackson’s one. Alas, Britt did not match Jackson’s on-field production. I wouldn't want Britt because of his knee and off-field issues. But the Redskins still would take him.

And that leads me back to: What do the Eagles really know? It’s the same question I’ve wanted to know since news of Jackson's availability first surfaced. They clearly knew a lot about him before he signed his big contract, and still kept him around. But it took only one year for the coach who knew him best to end Jackson’s time in Philly.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The initial thought by the Indianapolis Colts and safety Antoine Bethea was that they would have a chance to work out a new deal during the offseason.

Those thoughts changed as the offseason progressed because the communication between the two sides got less and less.

Then, it happened. Bethea, who started every game he played in during his eight years with the Colts, signed a deal with the San Francisco 49ers on the same day free agency started on March 11.

“It’s tough to have to replace a guy that this organization had for eight years and played the way he played and what he did for the Colts and the city,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s a harsh reality of today’s NFL -- you can’t keep everybody, and that’s what hurt. But you have to move on.”

Like general manager Ryan Grigson, Pagano talked about Delano Howell and Sergio Brown as potential in-house candidates to replace Bethea alongside LaRon Landry at safety.

The Colts' coach turned his attention to the draft and said they would like to select a safety.

“There are some great safeties in the draft,” Pagano said. “We have our board set, we’ll tweak it as we go through the month of April, go to pro days and gather information on the draft. We’ll see how the draft goes and how the board is once we get to our first pick. It’ll be nice to get a young one in the fold, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Here are the top 10 safeties in the May draft according to Scouts Inc. Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor are projected to be first-round picks.

 

Free-agency review: Colts

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
9:00
AM ET
Most significant signing: The Colts needed a legitimate cornerback to deal with quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the AFC. They had one on the roster last season and they just couldn’t let him go once free agency started. Indianapolis re-signed cornerback Vontae Davis to a four-year, $39 million contract that includes $20 million guaranteed. Now Davis has to live up to the contract and avoid the lapses he had at times last season.

Bethea
Most significant loss: Safety Antoine Bethea was the backbone of the secondary. He started every game he played during his eight years with the Colts. But Bethea knew there was a good chance he would be playing with another team next season. He signed a four-year deal with San Francisco hours into free agency on March 11.

Biggest surprise: Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was the Colts’ most effective running back last season. His days with the team appeared to be numbered after a neck injury ended his season after Week 3 -- not because the Colts didn’t think he could be effective, but because they already had Trent Richardson and Vick Ballard on the roster. Bradshaw signed a one-year deal to return and hopefully give the Colts three effective running backs next season.

What’s next? The Colts need to find somebody to replace Bethea and start alongside LaRon Landry in the secondary. They also need to finish addressing the interior part of the offensive line. A possible guard isn’t out of the question, and they need to determine whether Cleveland center Alex Mack is worth throwing a lot of money at since the Browns used the transition tag on him, and considering Indianapolis signed center Phil Costa last week.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson didn't just come out and say it as he stood behind the podium at Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 21. But you knew what he was getting at while addressing the media during the NFL scouting combine that afternoon.

Grigson was asked if center Samson Satele was in the team's plans in the future.

“This is an evaluation process and we have a plan in place,” he said. “We're not going to divulge that to anyone, but we're taking all the time and due diligence and the film work and it's something for the organization to know and you guys will find out at some point.”

Grigson's comments about Satele may not seem like a big deal, but things were put further into perspective about how the organization felt about the center when the general manager talked about safety LaRon Landry, cornerback Greg Toler and defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois needing to be more consistent next season in the concourse outside of the media area.

Releasing Satele, who was a disappointment last season, became official Thursday. The move frees up $4 million in salary cap space for the Colts.

The Colts are now on the market for a new starting center to snap the ball to franchise quarterback Andrew Luck and block because Khaled Holmes, who played a total of 12 snaps during his rookies season, is the only center on the roster.

Mike McGlynn was solid while starting in place of the injured Satele last season. McGlynn's a free agent and I've been told that the Colts don't plan on re-signing him at the moment.

New Orleans' Brian De La Punte and Green Bay's Even Dietrich-Smith are possible players the Colts could pursue once free agency begins March 11. The Cleveland Browns used the transition tag on center Alex Mack. The Browns have the right to match any offer made to Mack.

  • And to put a wrap on Thursday's busy day for the Colts, which also saw them sign linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, they made qualifying offers to restricted free agents cornerback Josh Gordy and offensive lineman Joe Reitz. The Colts have the right of first refusal if Gordy or Reitz receives an offer sheet from another team. Indianapolis made an exclusive rights tender to linebacker Cam Johnson.
  • The New York Jets haven't doled out a lucrative, multi-year contract for a safety since Kerry Rhodes signed a five-year, $33.5 million deal in 2008 -- a contract then-coach Eric Mangini, speaking to a friend years later, called one of his biggest regrets. But that's besides the point; the message here is that since 2009, in Rex Ryan's cornerback-centric system, the organization hasn't paid premium prices at the safety position.

    It should take a hard look at changing the philosophy now that Jairus Byrd appears headed for the open market.

    Byrd
    The Buffalo Bills declined to use the franchise tag on Byrd (the deadline was 4 p.m. Monday), meaning he will become an unrestricted free agent March 11. That's assuming he doesn't re-sign with the Bills, which appears highly unlikely.

    Byrd will demand serious coin -- he reportedly rejected a deal that would have paid him $30 million for the first three years -- but he's so good that the Jets should investigate. Byrd is a younger version of Ed Reed, sans the dynamic return ability. He's a ball hawk with uncanny instincts, a presence in the deep middle. The Jets like to play a lot of single-high safety looks, and Byrd would be a terrific scheme fit. Their problems against the deep ball would disappear with him patrolling center field.

    Obviously, the Jets are doing something right on defense (five straight years in the top 11), but they've done so with a glaring lack of production at safety. Since 2009, the Jets' safeties have combined for only 16 interceptions. (We're not including six by Dwight Lowery, a safety/cornerback hybrid who played mostly in sub packages.) Since 2009, when Byrd entered the league as a second-round pick, the soon-to-be-former Bills star has 22 interceptions. By the way, that includes six against the Jets.

    So will the Jets pursue Byrd? My gut tells me no. It sounds like they will entrust the position again to Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen & Co., perhaps adding a player in the draft. Clearly, they have bigger needs on offense, but they have enough salary-cap room to plug those needs and make a big splurge on defense. Maybe a look at the list below will change their mind.

    Safety interceptions since 2009:

    Ed Reed, Eric Smith, Kerry Rhodes -- 3
    LaRon Landry, Jim Leonhard -- 2
    Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen, Brodney Pool -- 1
    The 2014 free agency is just days away. The Indianapolis Colts had no problem spending last year, signing players to contracts that totaled more than $100 million. First-year results weren't overly impressive. Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano talked about needing consistent play during the scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 21.

    Some of it was because of injuries. Some of it was simply because of lack of production.

    Before the Colts go out and decide how they want to spend their $41 million in salary-cap space this year, let's look back and see how the 2013 free-agent signings performed.

    Landry
    Safety LaRon Landry (4 years, $24 million)

    2013 stats: 87 tackles, 0 interceptions

    The Colts signed Landry to be their big hitter and to have the same kind of impact Bob Sanders had when he was dominating in the secondary. Landry was one of the NFL's leading tacklers after the first two weeks of the season, including two impressive chase-down tackles to save a touchdown in each of the first two games. But then an ankle injury sidelined him four games. Landry lacked consistency in his first season with the Colts. He missed on two touchdown-saving tackles late in the season. The first was on Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles' 31-yard touchdown run in Week 16. The second was against New England's LeGarrette Blount on his 73-yard touchdown run in the Colts' AFC divisional playoff loss.

    Staying healthy and not always going for the big hit are key for Landry going forward.
    INDIANAPOLIS – The eyes of most NFL players, coaches and front office officials were fixated on the Seattle Seahawks' defense as it made Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning look ordinary for one of the few times in his future Hall of Fame career during the Super Bowl earlier this month.

    The goal by those teams?

    To put together a defense that can at least resemble Seattle’s, which is being called by some one of the best in league history.

    [+] EnlargeRyan Grigson
    Zumapress/Icon SMICoach Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson will be looking for a steadier Colts defense in 2014.
    “No question,” Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “We’re not the only ones that are thinking that way since it’s the last game and you saw how they were able to dominate that game and play so well on defense.”

    The Seahawks used a fast and physical defense to lead the league in total yards allowed a game (273.6), passing yards a game (172) and points allowed a game (14.4) last season.

    Colts general manager Ryan Grigson had no shame in admitting that they may end up taking some of Seattle’s defensive philosophies.

    “This is a copycat league and people see someone doing things at a high level and being able to beat a quality opponent like the Broncos the way they did,” Grigson said. “Of course you’re going to look at that. With the Colts we’re always looking to get better. We’re not ashamed to say we might take a piece from here, a piece from there and use it or implement it. … If you’re going to be belligerent, you’re going to be stuck in the mud. And it’s not working? Well, that’s on you at the end of the day.”

    Pagano is a defensive-minded coach whose unit hasn't lived up to his standards yet. The Colts showed flashes at times, but they were way too inconsistent for those in the organization last season. The goal is for them to close the gap between them and the offense.

    The Kansas City Chiefs put up 44 points on them without do-everything running back Jamaal Charles in the AFC wild-card game and the New England Patriots ran for 234 yards in the divisional playoff game.

    “We certainly had times during the season where we played very, very good defense,” Pagano said. “Played smothering defense, much like Seattle played, especially down the stretch. I know the playoffs didn’t turn out, obviously we didn’t play like we are capable of. We’ve just got to be more consistent. As we add pieces to the puzzle and guys get better at their craft, I think we’ll certainly one day say we play defense like that on a consistent basis.”

    The Colts finished 20th in the league in total yards allowed (357.1). They weren’t bad in pass defense – 13th in the league – it was stopping the run that Indianapolis had problems with. The Colts were 26th in the league, giving up an average of 125.1 yards a game.

    Pagano wasn’t just talking about consistent play on the field -- he was also referring to having players consistently play. Starting safety LaRon Landry, cornerback Greg Toler and defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois all missed time because of injuries last season.

    “I felt like specifically, Landry before he got hurt, was leading the league in tackles and was all over the place,” Grigson said. “He’s got to be more comfortable in this defense. He has to make that commitment this offseason, and he’s going to. Ricky Jean, the same way. The flashes were there. We need those guys to turn those flashes, same with Toler, into consistency, and that’s all we’re looking for. We need consistency, be out there for 16 games, find a way.”

    NFLN survey/player safety: Colts

    January, 27, 2014
    Jan 27
    10:54
    AM ET
    As I walked around the locker room asking several Indianapolis Colts players if they would play in a game with a concussion as part of the NFL Nation survey, I was expecting at least some of them to say they would not play with one, even if it meant missing the Super Bowl.

    It was the complete opposite.

    All 10 players said they would play in the Super Bowl with a concussion because they feel like the NFL’s policy is too strict. And there was no hesitation from any of them in answering the question.

    Safety is obviously important, but I understand why the players would be willing to try to play with a concussion. That could be their only chance at reaching the Super Bowl in their career.

    The Colts had their fair share of players who dealt with concussions this season.

    Tight end Coby Fleener had one in the preseason. Offensive lineman Joe Reitz and safety LaRon Landry suffered concussions during the regular season. Each of them had to pass the league’s concussion protocol before being able to play in a game.

    Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles suffered a concussion on their opening drive in the playoff game against the Colts. The Chiefs led by 28 points in the third quarter, but they ended up losing the game 45-44. It’s uncertain how severe Charles’ concussion was, but the Chiefs would have likely won the game if he had been able to return.

    SPONSORED HEADLINES

    Insider