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Colts Notebook: High Expectations and Monster-Building

 

Adongo is Eager to Help Build the Monster

Former rugby player Daniel Adongo generated a good deal of excitement when he joined the team as a linebacker in July, but he has missed significant time with a bicep injury since then.  Though he has yet to play in a preseason game, Adongo showed enough potential to survive the first round of cuts. 

It looks as though fans will have to continue to be patient in waiting for Adongo’s debut, according to Coach Chuck Pagano.  “He wants to go in the worst way but until he has a full understanding of everything that’s going on,” he said of Adongo. “I’m not worried about him giving effort. I’m not worried about him knowing what to do.

“I’m just worried about the speed of the game and our opponent and something happening to him. Guys have been playing 5, 6, 7 years in the league running down on a kickoff and don’t see a trap block coming. I just don’t want to throw him into a situation like that right now where he doesn’t have a full grasp of everything going on. I don’t want to do that to that kid.”  Well said, Coach. 

As for Adongo, it would appear as though American football has taken hold of him.  A reporter asked him yesterday what game days have been like for him, and he responded, “The hairs on the back of my neck stand up every time we go out. The guys get so amped for the games but their concentration level is so high.

“We’re well-prepared for the games. What you see out at practice is the same thing we do on the field. We practice well and we translate the same effort that we had during practice during the week into the games. So that’s a good thing. You practice how you play.” 

It’s no slight to rugby, a great sport in itself (What little rugby I’ve seen looks downright awesome), but once you buy into American football, you are never the same.  The hits, the drama, the heightened importance of every play, every yard, every specialized position; it’s a site to behold.

Not only has Daniel Adongo embraced the NFL, he has heavily bought in to the Colts as well.  When someone asked him yesterday what his backup plan was – what might be next if he doesn’t make the final 53, Adongo had no desire to entertain such a possibility aloud.  “My expectations are to make sure that I’m here to stay,” he said. “That was the whole point of the transition to come and play football and be a part of this what we are building here. We’re building a monster. I haven’t thought past that but I’ve been preparing well to make sure that I’m part of this team.” 

Obviously, at 23 years old, Adongo is young enough he can go back to dominating every ruck, maul, and scrum in his vicinity on the rugby field, but it was a classy move on his part to avoid that and instead talk about Building The Monster. 

 

What about Hugh?

When the Colts drafted Hugh Thornton out of Illinois in April, reuniting the promising guard with his college position coach Joe Gilbert, it was readily apparent that he could be more than just a depth player.  Considering the struggles of the interior offensive line in 2012, last year’s starters had to wonder how long they could hold off Thornton and free agent signee Donald Thomas. 

While Thomas has taken over the left guard position, an injury has kept Thornton out of the competition until last week, when he finally had the chance to show what he can do on the field.  “It was fun,” Thornton said of playing in the Browns game. “It was good to just be on the field again after doing rehab and conditioning and things like that. It was good to get out there and be a part of the team again.” 

As far as his feelings on playing with the first team on Saturday, Thornton spoke carefully and humbly, while acknowledging the high expectations.  “I would have been happy wherever they put me,” he said. “I’m just glad to be out there playing football again after coming here with high expectations for myself and for the team and just being able to be with that group and the group trust me enough to help me out and play with me. It was an awesome feeling.” 

As impressed as fans were with Thornton’s debut (the ones who watch the offensive line, anyway – trust me, it’s fun), the head coach was at least equally pleased.  “He played well,” Pagano said of Thornton. “I think the first snap he got in, we pulled him. I don’t know the kid’s name, but number 54, outside linebacker for the Browns came and tried to set the edge. If you go back and watch the tape, it’s pretty impressive what he did on his very first snap out there. Again, he played consistent football throughout. He was good in the run game. Got tied up on one pull, ended up on the ground, but other than that, run and pass he did a nice job.”  As an offensive lineman, what better way to kick off an NFL career than by laying a crushing block on a linebacker? 

While starter Mike McGlynn is expected to be ready to play against Oakland on the 8th, Thornton knows he needs to take advantage of his opportunity now, even if he won’t get many reps against the Bengals’ starters this week.  It’s a ‘next man up’ league, and every player has to be ready on any given play. 

“Yeah, that’s the way it goes in football,” Thornton said of the nature of injuries in the NFL.  “It’s unfortunate. I’ve been there. Other people have been there as well. When the opportunity comes, you got to take it, you got to run with it and do your best to help the team as a unit.” 

 

Quick Injury Updates

As expected, the ever-forthcoming Pagano confirmed that tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener will sit out the final preseason game. OLB Daniel Adongo is physically ready, but as the coach said, he still has some learning to do before he finds his way onto a game. 

C/G Khaled Holmes and DT Fili Moala have practiced this week, but it’s up in the air whether they’ll play. Asked if injured players’ returns are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis, Pagano agreed.  “Yeah, exactly,” he said.  “And some of it is based on age and some of it is based on maybe their status, health-wise. A guy like Fili (Moala) who probably could go in and play and he’s been practicing and he’s been out there for a couple days now would like to go. But we’ll see how he is tomorrow, warm him up and then see, make a decision on a guy like that. So it’s case-by-case.” 

All quotes are courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts PR Department.

Marcus Dugan

About Marcus Dugan

Marcus is a husband, dad, twitter geek, and all around average guy who covers news, game recaps, and additional material for The Colts Authority, while working even harder as a real estate broker near Indianapolis.

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