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NFL Nation: Ryan Grigson

Camp preview: Indianapolis Colts

July, 17, 2014
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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 -- New Indianapolis Colts safety Mike Adams was part of the Denver Broncos team that reached the Super Bowl last season.

But there Adams sat, waiting for a team to sign him during the offseason. He waited. Waited some more. He waited so long that anxiety started to set in. Adams, 33, had never been out of work this long during his 10-year NFL career.

Adams’ phone finally rang last week when the Colts put safety Corey Lynch on injured reserve.

[+] EnlargeMike Adams
Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsVeteran safety Mike Adams has started 73 games in his 10-year career.
"The pieces are in place and we have a chance to hoist (the trophy) at the end," Adams said. "That’s my goal. I came here to win. That’s Chuck Pagano’s philosophy and that’s what they want to do here. That’s what it all boils down."

Adams has gone from being unemployed to having a chance to be one of the Colts' starting safeties when they take on his former team, the Broncos, in the season opener on Sept. 7.

"Bottom line is I want to compete for a job," Adams said. "I want to earn these guys' respect. I’m going in (Year 11). Its’ a different locker room, new system I have to learn. I want to earn that. I don’t want it given to me. I told coach and I told the (general manager Ryan Grigson), 'I appreciate you telling me I don’t have the job. I appreciate that.' I was the underdog my whole career. I love competing and proving people wrong."

Safety has been a legit concern for the Colts since long-time fixture Antoine Bethea signed with San Francisco on the first day of the free agent signing period in March.

The Colts didn’t address the position during free agency or the draft. They constantly talked about having confidence in Delano Howell, who has been working with the first team during the offseason workouts.

But Howell lacks experience on a defense that was too inconsistent last season. The same goes for Sergio Brown, David Sims and Colt Anderson.

Enter Adams.

He has started 73 games in his 10-year career. The question about Adams is how much does he have left in his tank at the age of 33. He admits his age might have caused teams to shy away a little bit.

"I feel like I’m 26,” he quickly says. "You're going to see the way I move. Once guys see my film. I was talking to the GM and he said, 'I had to watch your film' and he said, 'You’re 33?' and I was like, 'yeah I am 33,' but when you watch the film it doesn’t look like I’m 33."

Adams is versatile. He can also play cornerback, nickelback or be the dime.

Now he has to see if he’s versatile enough to get the number he wants. Adams, who currently has No. 42, has worn No. 20 throughout his career, but cornerback Darius Butler has that number.

"I’ll have to sweet-talk him," Adams said. "Have to take him out to dinner; wine and dine him."
INDIANAPOLIS – It wouldn't be surprising if the reaction to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's new $110 million deal, which includes a record $61 million guaranteed, went something like this from the important figures inside the Indianapolis Colts' organization:

Owner Jim Irsay started squirming after realizing he'll likely have to pay quarterback Andrew Luck even more than that.

General manager Ryan Grigson was probably like, "This is why I had to be frugal and not free-spend during the offseason."

Luck, in typical Luck fashion, probably didn't have much reaction because he doesn't operate like that.

You can spend plenty of time debating whether Kaepernick is worth the contract. You can't knock somebody for getting paid. But no matter how you look at Kaepernick's huge payday, just know that the Colts should prepare themselves because they'll have to pay Luck even more money than what the 49ers quarterback got once he's eligible for a contract extension next year.

Why?

Luck is a better quarterback.

I know, I know, Kaepernick plays in the toughest division in the NFL -- the NFC West -- and he's been to the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship Game twice in as many seasons.

But just like the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson, Kaepernick gets help from a very good defense and running game to assist with the passing game.

Luck?

The Colts' defense has been a weak link outside of Robert Mathis' 19.5 sacks last season.

A running game?

Now that's funny.

Luck has overcome those flaws to lead the Colts to 22 victories and the playoffs in each of his first two seasons. He's done it with some late-game heroics, too.

Kaepernick is 21-8 as the 49ers' starting quarterback. Luck is 22-10 and 1-2 in the playoffs.

Kaepernick has thrown for 5,046 yards, 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his career. Luck has thrown for 8,196 yards, 46 touchdowns and 27 interceptions in his career.

Grigson knows at some point, he'll have to pay Luck and some of the other players in the 2012 draft class. He openly said so during the combine in February.

Here's a breakdown of guaranteed money given to active quarterbacks:

Kaepernick: $61 million
Matt Ryan: $59 million
Tom Brady: $57 million
Drew Brees: $55 million
Tony Romo: $55 million
Aaron Rodgers: $54 million
Jay Cutler: $54 million

Kaepernick set the bar with the contract Wednesday afternoon. Now you should expect Luck to surpass it.
Here's a Memorial Day edition of the mailbag:
 
INDIANAPOLIS -- The choice to curl up in the fetal position to avoid the challenge that lay ahead was waiting for the Indianapolis Colts the past two seasons.

A head coach that missed 12 weeks as he battled leukemia. A rookie quarterback taking over a 14-loss team from the year before. Five offensive players, including a likely Hall of Fame receiver, going down with season-ending injuries.

[+] EnlargeChuck Pagano
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesCoach Chuck Pagano's Colts need to improve their offensive line play to help a lowly rushing attack.
But there the Colts stood when it was all said and done with 11 wins in each of the past two seasons.

That's why as the organization was dealt a devastating blow to the gut by the announced NFL suspension of pass-rush artist Robert Mathis last week and the possible suspension of owner Jim Irsay at some point, there hasn't been any wavering of what the expectations are for next season.

That's not how the Colts approach things. That message was relayed more than two years ago, when general manager Ryan Grigson took over the rebuilding franchise and hired an unproven head coach in Chuck Pagano. And that was the message passed through the facility on the west side of Indianapolis after Mathis was suspended.

"We’ve had our fair share of bumps in the road," Grigson said. "We’ve had quite a bit of significant ones, but at the end of the day, we know we’re judged by wins and losses. This league is all about the bottom line, and we understand that.

"You can't sit there and cry a river when you have mounting injuries or you have unfortunate things happen because it's just life, and it's life in the NFL. We roll with the punches."

Ask anybody in the Colts organization why they haven’t fallen apart or even shown signs of cracking, and they point at Pagano.

Pagano didn’t have to overcome a broken arm or foot to return to the sidelines in 2012. He was in a nasty slugfest with cancer. It was a fight that took him out for 12 weeks, but he returned at the end of that season and hasn’t left since.

"I’ve been around a lot of teams and college teams, and this franchise is a no-excuse franchise," Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said.

Pagano doesn’t look at his illness as the reason the Colts have managed to overcome the obstacles that seem to continue to get in their way.

It boils down to trust, loyalty and respect with Indianapolis, something Irsay has constantly preached, to go with exceptional talent.

Colts southeast regional scout Jamie Moore put on a presentation last year in which he researched some of professional sports' legendary dynasties: the Montreal Canadiens, New York Yankees and Boston Celtics.

The Colts are far from a dynasty. They’ve yet to win a Super Bowl with Andrew Luck at quarterback. What Grigson and Pagano took away from the presentation, though, was the blueprint those teams used to build their franchises: being innovative, thinking outside the box and -- probably the most important of the three -- checking egos at the door.

The Colts have avoided internal conflicts because everybody has the same goal: winning as many games as possible, not worrying about individual stats.

"We laid out a foundation when we first got here," Pagano said. "We talked about a vision. We know what the vision is, [the Super Bowl banner is] hanging in the indoor practice facility. We talked about an environment and culture we wanted to create and then we talked about the process and how you go about your business."

Replacing Mathis for the first four games of the 2014 season won’t be easy. Anybody who says the Colts will be fine without last season's NFL sack leader likely isn’t telling the truth. For as much as Mathis is known for his strip-sacks, his presence inside the locker room has been just as valuable.

"Our team knows what’s at stake, same thing with Reggie [Wayne] being hurt," Grigson said. "If you lose somebody who is so significant to your franchise for a set amount of time, it's going to send everyone reeling for a second until we fall back on those things we've been preaching. Guys aren't going to have to step up in a serviceable way; they have to play at a championship level this year. Everyone does."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Listen to members of the Indianapolis Colts talk and the common theme coming out their mouths is having people who fit in with their "horseshoe" tradition.

For so long, being in the "horseshoe" family meant staying out of trouble, proudly representing the organization and being a part of their winning tradition.

[+] EnlargeRobert Mathis
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesThe Colts can get by just fine if owner Jim Irsay is suspended, but it's a different story with sack machine Robert Mathis.
That "horseshoe" image has taken a substantial hit this offseason with two of the Colts' leaders at the forefront of the problems. If owner Jim Irsay's arrest in March wasn't embarrassing enough, Friday's four-game suspension of pass-rush specialist Robert Mathis for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances further put the Colts in a negative light.

Mathis immediately released a statement following the announcement of his suspension that said he tested positive for a fertility drug. He and his wife are expecting a daughter in the fall.

The mistake Mathis made, which he acknowledged in the statement, is that he failed to check with the NFL or the NFL Players Association to see if what he was taking was illegal.

That's a mistake players should not make, especially a veteran like Mathis.

This is the second straight year that the Colts will be missing a player at the start of the season. Receiver LaVon Brazill and tight end Weslye Saunders were suspended for the first four and eight games, respectively, for not following the league's substance-abuse policies.

Indianapolis isn't done with being disciplined.

Commissioner Roger Goodell still has to determine how he will handle Irsay following his arrest for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated in March. He faces four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance. Irsay took part in the team's draft last week and will be in Atlanta for the NFL owners meetings next week after spending time in a rehabilitation facility immediately following his arrest.

There's little doubt Goodell will discipline Irsay. In March, during the league's owners meetings in Orlando, Florida, Goodell said the Colts owner is subject to league discipline for his arrest but would wait "to understand the facts" before making a decision.

The Colts will be able to get by without Irsay if Goodell fines and suspends him as expected because the franchise is in capable hands with general manager Ryan Grigson on the football side and chief operating officer Pete Ward on the business side.

The same can't be said about the Colts' defense without Mathis.

If facing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos and the Philadelphia Eagles in the first two weeks of the season wasn't difficult enough already, now Indianapolis has to figure out a way to slow down those two offenses without the player responsible for 46 percent of their sacks (19.5) last season. Mathis, the heart and soul of the defense, will also miss games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.

The Colts' image and aspirations to take another step in the AFC next season took a hit they couldn't afford to take Friday.
INDIANAPOLIS – There’s always somebody in class who has to end up with the lowest grade. You know the student everybody snickers at because he didn’t get as good of a grade as the rest of his classmates.

For the Indianapolis Colts that’s them when it comes to grading their 2014 draft class. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. dished out his grades for the draftInsider and the Colts are the bottom of the list. Kiper gave the Colts a league-worst D-plus.

The Colts entered the draft with needs at safety, guard, linebacker and receiver. They addressed receiver in the third round by selecting Mississippi’s Donte Moncrief. The Colts drafted linebacker Andrew Jackson from Western Kentucky in the sixth round and Ohio State’s Jack Mewhort, a second-round pick, played tackle with the Buckeyes but will likely slide to guard in the NFL.

The Colts, who were without a first-round pick, did not touch their most glaring need – safety – in the draft.

"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."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Defensive end Jonathan Newsome doesn't hide behind his checkered past. He knows he made mistakes, the kind that caused him to transfer from Ohio State to Ball State, a mid-major college in the Mid-American Conference. Newsome owned up to those mistakes during a conference call moments after the Indianapolis Colts made him the No. 166 overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft on Saturday.

Newsome started his college career with the Buckeyes but transferred because he was "living it up a little bit too much" at Ohio State. He missed spring practice in 2011 because of academic problems.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Newsome
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhColts prospect Jonathan Newsome hopes to follow in the footsteps of pass-rusher Robert Mathis.
"I was young and I was dumb, honestly," Newsome said. "Young and dumb and making dumb decisions as far as my academics, and I lost trust in my coaches. Before I had stayed there and tried to dig myself out of a hole that was so deep. I'd rather go get a fresh start at Ball State, where I had some former high school teammates that were playing there and a good supporting staff. That was the reason I left. I just needed a fresh start."

New school, same troubles for Newsome.

He was suspended two games at Ball State after being arrested in August 2012 for marijuana possession when a bag containing marijuana was found in his wallet. He was also held on a warrant after an incident in November 2011 when he and a teammate were accused of shoplifting.

"My mother's always been supportive of me," Newsome said. "Even when I did mess up, she was always there for me. And my head coach from high school, coach [Ted] Ginn [Sr.], was always there in my corner. When I messed up, he got me back right, got my focus back right and all my priorities straight.

"There were times when there was doubt, but ultimately, I was mentally tough enough to overcome all that stuff, and now I'm just sitting here and I'm an Indianapolis Colt. I can't even explain how crazy that story is, to go from almost getting kicked out of school to being an NFL draft pick, graduate. Everything's looking up and I'm going to continue with this success. I don't plan on having any more bumps in the road."

The Colts did thorough research on Newsome, and, just like he was with the media Saturday, he was just as honest to team officials when he met with them.

"If you lie, you’re dead to us," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said.

Newsome had 116 tackles (26 for a loss) and 16.5 sacks in his two seasons at Ball State.

"The tape doesn’t lie," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "It’s out there and the guy is a football junkie. It’s his whole life, and he’s a four core special-teams guy, and he embraces that. He loves that. It’s hard. As you guys know, it’s hard to find pass-rushers, and the way our league’s going, you can never have enough of them, so we feel great. As the board was getting plucked away, we were sweating bullets."

Former Colts general manager and current ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian said Newsome has "Robert Mathis-like ability."

"I think that’s a good comparison," Newsome said. "We ran multiple fronts at Ball State. We ran 4-3, we ran 3-4, we ran a lot of nickel. When we ran 3-4, I was an outside linebacker. I stood up a lot. When we ran a 4-3, I stood up on the edge. I can do all that stuff."

Mathis, like Newsome, came out of a small school -- Alabama A&M -- and he's turned in what should be a Hall of Fame career. Mathis has 111 career sacks.

"I’m going to be his little brother. He doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to be like his little brother," Newsome said. "I’m going to learn from [him]. I watched him all last year. We have similar builds.

"I can’t wait to learn from him. He led the league in sacks last year. That’s what I love to do -- sack the quarterback. Why not learn from the best?"
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."
INDIANAPOLIS – As much as some may not want to believe it, the clock is ticking on what should end up being a Hall-of-Fame career for Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne.

That's why the Colts have to start preparing for life after Wayne once he finally decides to stop making impressive one-handed grabs.

The Colts took a step in doing that when they selected Mississippi receiver Donte Moncrief in the third round.

"We have to always (prepare for not having Wayne), but at the same time he was one of the highest-rated guys on our board," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "He’s a guy that’s done a lot at a high level and he’s still young. He’s still got some things to learn."

Moncrief, who left school early, had 59 catches for 938 yards and six touchdowns last season at Mississippi.

The 20-year-old Moncrief doesn’t have the pressure to contribute right away because the Colts are set at the top three receiver spots with Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks.

"The Colts offense, they spread the ball around," Moncrief said. "The locker room will be great. They have a quarterback in Andrew Luck that you can trust."

The Colts are intrigued by Moncrief’s size -- 6-2, 220 pounds -- and his desire to be an all-around receiver.

"Football is his life and we’re anxious to get him here and see his big body moving around because he can separate," Grigson said. "We just felt like what was almost a fourth-round pick was tremendous value at that spot."
INDIANAPOLIS – Offensive tackle? Or is he a guard? No, wait, he’s a center, right?

Don’t go trying to figure out what position Indianapolis Colts second round pick Jack Mewhort plays because the answer is unknown at the moment.

Mewhort, the No. 59 overall pick Friday, has played all those positions at some point between high school and at Ohio State, and the Colts like him because of his versatility along the line.

"We’ll get him in here and it’ll figure itself out, but we’ll find him a spot to start at then let him go to work," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He’s a dang good football player. He’s big, he’s tough, he’s smart, he loves football, fits our culture, fits our environment. He’s a horseshoe guy.

"What I live, he’s got nasty, he’s tough and you’ve got to have that on the offensive line."

What about you, Jack, what position do you envision playing in the NFL?

"I’m the type of guy that you point me in the direction and I’ll figure it out and I’ll go play it," he said. "I’m not sure I’ve got a specific position pegged down right now, but I know and I’m confident that I can excel at different ones along the offensive line."

Guard may end up being the position Mewhort gets the majority of his snaps because the Colts are set at tackle with Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus.

The goal is to have flexibility along the offensive line for the Colts. Mewhort played guard and tackle during the Senior Bowl.

The Colts were one of two teams to lose at least three offensive linemen that played at least 300 snaps without signing a player during free agency, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Indianapolis signed center Phil Costa, but he surprised many by deciding to retire last month.

"It’s so tough in this league to have continuity on the offensive line because of so many injuries," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "Position flex is what separates if you look at some of the teams that go deep in to the playoffs every year, they have tremendous position flex and versatility on their offensive line.

"To do that, you need smart guys that know how to play the game and Jack’s one of those guys."

The ultimate goal is to make sure Mewhort and the rest of the offensive linemen protect their franchise player, quarterback Andrew Luck, better. Luck has been sacked 73 times in two seasons. Sometimes you wonder how he manages to consistently pull himself off the ground after taking all those hits.

"I think that as long as he’s healthy and upright, and he’s got great protection, and he’s got enough weapons surrounding him, we’ll probably be here for a long time," Pagano said.
INDIANAPOLIS -- There was a familiar face, one that had been absent around the Indianapolis Colts organization for nearly two months, inside the team’s draft war room Friday night.

A picture made its way around Twitter, and in it stood a sharply dressed man in a dark colored suit standing next to coach Chuck Pagano.

Owner Jim Irsay was back in his familiar setting.

Ponder
Irsay
"[It] was a shot of adrenalin," Pagano said. "He brings so much to the table and to the organization. He is the organization. He is the 'shoe.' To have Jim back in the building and back in the room with us today was pretty darn special."

Irsay had been in a rehabilitation facility getting treatment since March 17 after he was arrested the day before for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He faces four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance. A sign that Irsay was out of the treatment facility was when the Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward said he would give the pitch to the NFL owners about Indianapolis hosting the Super Bowl in 2018 during the league meeting in Atlanta later this month. Irsay was also up to his old habit of tweeting again on Thursday.

Irsay wasn’t just sitting around watching during the draft. He quizzed general manager Ryan Grigson about potential players they might take with the No. 59 and 90 picks. He asked about alternative options if the players they were interested in weren’t available and potential trades.

Being a part of the day-to-day activities is where Irsay, a former general manager of the Colts, feels comfortable.

The Colts selected Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort in the second round and Mississippi receiver Donte Moncrief in the third round.

"It was great," Grigson said. "He brings great energy, football wisdom, all the years of experience. He knows how to push my buttons in terms of when we're making a pick, seeing if I'm really feeling it. Same with Chuck. He looks you in the eye and wants to know about the player, wants to be able to feel that passion when you're making that pick and know that you really want that guy.

"He has a great feel for that kind of thing. He can tell when he's talking with you who you like and who you just kind of like or maybe just fills a need. He wants to know the plan. He wants to know if he's not there, what we're going to do."

It’s uncertain how much longer Irsay will be around the team. Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the league’s owners meeting in Orlando, Florida, in March that Irsay is subject to league discipline for his arrest but that he would wait "to understand the facts" before making a decision.

His initial hearing in March was postponed.

"We obviously will want to understand the facts before we take any steps as it relates to any potential discipline," Goodell said in March. "Obviously any policies or any laws that are broken, whether you're commissioner or owner or player or coach, those are subject to discipline."

But for one night, things were back to normal at the Colts facility on the west side of Indianapolis.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Not much is known about offensive lineman Donald Thomas when it comes to his time with the Indianapolis Colts.

Thomas
Holmes
Thomas didn't make it through two full games last season because of a torn tendon in his quad and a torn bicep.

Turns out Thomas, who the Colts signed to play guard, can play center, too.

It's unknown if he'll ever snap the ball to quarterback Andrew Luck, but it's a possibility for the Colts who have questions at center.

The Colts released last season's starting center, Samson Satele, in March and Phil Costa suddenly retired last month, leaving Khaled Holmes, the likely starter, and Thomas Austin as the centers on the roster.

"If you go through most rosters and depth charts, you usually will have, generally, your starting center, your more true center, so to speak," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "Then, you’ll have usually a guard who can snap, or a guy who’s a guard first that can also snap and play at a winning level as your second center. We have three snappers now. We’ll keep our options open.

"Like all position groups, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, we’ve been pretty consistent, the best players play. Whoever is going to start for this team in 2014 has to produce and play at a winning level week in and week out, period.”

Grigson, like he's done from the start, maintains high hopes for Holmes despite the former fourth-round pick only playing 12 snaps as a rookie at a position where the Colts had problems last season.

"We obviously have plans for him, but again, you have to compete and you have to win a job," Grigson said. "You’re not just going to settle into a job for being average, mediocre or adequate. You have to play at a winning level and ascend to a championship level."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Center Phil Costa wasn't even around long enough to be asked about dating Hulk Hogan's daughter let alone possibly hike the ball to quarterback Andrew Luck with the Indianapolis Colts.

Costa, in a surprising announcement, has decided to retire.

"Phil feels it's in his best interest to retire from the game," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement released by the team. "We certainly understand and wish him nothing but the best."

The Colts signed Costa to a two-year, $2.7 million contract that included $450,000 guaranteed last month.

UPDATE: The Colts do not have to pay Costa any of the guaranteed money he was scheduled to make since he decided to retire.

The idea was for Costa to compete with Khaled Holmes for the starting center position, but I got the sense that the Colts were hoping Holmes would win the job. Costa, who started with the Dallas Cowboys in 2011, was beat out by rookie Travis Frederick last season.

Holmes only played 12 snaps and was a healthy inactive 11 times last season as a rookie.

Now the Colts are in serious of need of adding another center to the roster. This isn't a position they should be in with their franchise player Luck. The little bit of good news out of Costa telling the Colts he was retiring is that he did it now and not after training camp had already started. It gives Grigson some time to try to find another center to add to the roster.

Alex Mack?

Nope. The Cleveland Browns quickly matched the offer the Jacksonville Jaguars gave him.

Mike McGlynn?

McGlynn, who plays guard and center, was the best center on the Colts' roster last season, but the team had no interest in re-signing him. McGlynn is now with the Washington Redskins.

Samson Satele?

Next.

Kyle Cook, Mike Gibson and Steve Vallos are the three best centers still available on the free agent market, according to Bill Polian's free agent tracker.

Grigson said during the NFL owners' meetings last month that he wasn't overly impressed with the group of free agent centers.

That takes us to the draft. The Colts' first pick is not until No. 59 in the second round.

Here's a recap of the top 10 centers in the draft, according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.:

1. Marcus Martin, USC
2. Weston Richburg, Colorado St.
3. Russell Bodine, North Carolina
4. Travis Swanson, Arkansas
5. Jonotthan Harrison, Florida
6. Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
7. James Stone, Tennessee
8. Bryan Stork, Florida St.
9. Corey Linsley, Ohio St.
10. Tyler Larsen, Utah St.
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Carlie Irsay-Gordon, the 33-year-old with a wide range of interests, from performing arts to majoring in religious studies in college, was working on her Ph.D in psychology when she had to put that on hold.

The likely plan, the one that's been in the making for years, to have Irsay-Gordon and her sisters, Casey Foyt and Kalen Irsay, eventually run the Indianapolis Colts was accelerated because of an unfortunate situation involving their father and owner of the team, Jim Irsay.

So here Irsay-Gordon sits at the top, giving the final "yes" or "no" on decisions made by Colts general manager Ryan Grigson on the football side and chief operating officer Pete Ward on the business side.

Irsay's decision to enter a rehabilitation facility for his addictions following his arrest last month has lifted Irsay-Gordon from the shadows and into the front of the organization until her father returns.

"She'll do well. She's a sharp businessperson," former Colts assistant and current Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "She's very much like her father; she has great personality, she's extremely bright, she has a good feeling for people. I've worked for a bunch of owners, and Jim Irsay -- he talks about faith, family and football. It's real. And she has that same mindset."

Irsay-Gordon joins principle owners Martha Ford, widow of the late Detroit Lions owner Bill Ford Sr., and Virginia McCaskey of the Chicago Bears as the only females running NFL franchises.

[+] EnlargeCarlie Irsay-Gordon
AJ Mast/AP PhotoColts vice chair/owner Carlie Irsay-Gordon (center) presents a jersey to Scott West and his wife, Julie West, on Oct. 6, 2013.
Irsay-Gordon started as an intern in the team's football and marketing department and worked her way up to her current title of vice chair/owner prior to the 2012 season. She graduated from Skidmore College in upstate New York, where she majored in religious studies, and she has represented the Colts at the NFL owners meetings every year since 2004. She and Grigson were bouncing ideas off each other throughout the meetings in Orlando, Fla., last week.

"She never ceases to amaze me with some of the questions she asks. She has it," Grigson said. "I've told this to Jim because I know these are the things that he would like to hear. And it's why [coach] Chuck [Pagano] and I have a great working relationship with her, because she gets it. It's not like we're sitting here trying to explain things to her. She already has a really good base of knowledge, and not just from an operations standpoint with dollars and [the salary] cap."

Irsay-Gordon, who is married to an attorney and has three children, has declined all interview requests because of her father's legal situation.

Like her father, football runs deep in Irsay-Gordon's blood. She's been around it her entire life.

"I grew up in a football family, so I know exactly what it's like to grow up in a football family and be around it your entire life," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "You can see that."

The Colts are in a delicate state because they're trying to continue to move up in the AFC and they don't want Irsay's legal and personal situation to become a distraction. There's no getting around it, the situation will remain, but Irsay-Gordon isn't expected to be a boss who will constantly be looking over Grigson and Ward.

"How much interaction do we have? They have their jobs to do and we have our jobs to do," Pagano said. "The great thing about the entire Irsay family is that they hired us to do a job and they let us to do our job. So, when we have to communicate, those lines of communication are always there. They're always open. It's a great working environment, and we have great working relationships with all those people."

The similarities are unmistakable between father and daughter. They're "wired" the same when it comes to football, according to Pagano. Irsay-Gordon hates losing more than she loves winning -- much like her father.

One of the biggest differences is that you won't find Irsay-Gordon on Twitter the same way her father uses it to voice his displeasure when the team isn't living up to his expectations. She's tweeted only nine times to her nearly 800 followers in four-plus years.

"She expects [excellence] just like her father does," Grigson said. " ... That's something that their father, I'm sure, has ingrained in them. But at the same time, there's a tremendous amount of respect given to everyone in the building, and they display that. There's no pretentiousness or condescension. You know who's in charge, but the delivery, I think, is something that's unique in this league."

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