Yesterday, it was announced that the Colts had signed a unique free agent: Lieutenant Josh McNary (LB, 6-0, 251 pounds, 25 yrs. old), a West Point Graduate whose active duty ends next month. According to Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star, McNary’s enlistment understandably prevented him from being drafted two years ago.
McNary racked up 12.5 sacks in 2011 including 4 in one game with career totals of 28 sacks and 49 tackles for a loss; all school records. Indianapolis signed McNary – on his birthday, no less, after his standout performance in the NFL Super Regional Combine in Texas. He expects to be able to join the team sometime after May 21, when his two-year enlistment is finished. We'll have quotes from the newest Colt after the jump.
McNary had calls from other teams, but the Colts made a strong impression on him by contacting him right from the top of the organization. “I did have other opportunities,” he said of signing with the Colts. “But the Colts were just unique in their eagerness and enthusiasm to get me on board. I got a call from the general manager himself to sign with the organization. That was huge.
”Then getting a call from Coach Pagano, it was basically like an overwhelming amount of attention and enthusiasm that they showed toward me so it definitely wasn’t matched by any other teams. These guys saw things in me that only I thought I knew I had. They really sound like they really know what they’re going to do with me. They sound like they’re going to put me in a place that’s going to optimize my potential, kind of like I was in college filling a role on defense. So I thought it was a pretty safe choice.”
McNary has been away from football for two years. During his conference call, he was asked how he stayed in shape during that time, and if going back to football would be a natural transition. He said he started doing football drills a few months before the regional combine. “I’ve been doing a lot of defensive-type drills, coverage drills, linebacker drills in general, a lot of things to get me moving like a football player again,” he said. “There was a little bit of a time lapse there. It didn’t happen overnight.”
McNary added that there is a difference between being in the right condition for the Army and for football, “I was still in shape being in the Army and everything but it’s just a different type of shape you’re in. In the Army, you are required to do a lot more long-distance running, marching and things are more endurance based. Of course, football is more an explosive sport and you use more of your fast-twitch muscles. There was a little conversion that had to take place in the way that I was used to moving, stuff like that. I was definitely surprised how quickly it came back and now I’m continuing to improve as we speak. It was a pretty seamless transition.”
The endurance McNary brings from being in Army shape will most assuredly help him on the football field. Any defense can use a player who has the ability to stay fresh and energetic in the fourth quarter, not to mention the leadership skills of an Army officer, but it’s good to hear he’s working on his explosiveness as well.
Most fans and experts agree the Colts need another player who can burst into the backfield and harass quarterbacks. With Dwight Freeney gone, and no proven pass rushers outside of OLB Robert Mathis, the team looks almost bereft of players who can pressure the quarterback from the edge. It is hard to say whether McNary will be a solid contributor or just another great story of a guy that we all pull for in camp.
One thing is for certain, however. The Colts’ new pass rusher likes his chances, his confidence somewhat bolstered by that of the coaching staff. “I’m pretty optimistic. In all honesty, I don’t know what it is but I’ve gained a lot of confidence after getting in shape,” McNary said. “After seeing the progress that I’m able to make physically and knowing what I’m capable of, given my instincts on the field and certain characteristics that I have as a player, I’m very optimistic and pretty confident in what I feel I can bring to an NFL team. I got with the coach and I feel good and reassured that they saw all the potential in me. They named off a few characteristics that I knew that I had but I was unsure whether they were seeing, like unique characteristics. So that gives me a lot of confidence that these guys will give me a pretty good shot.”
GM Ryan Grigson leaves no stone unturned in his search for talent and potential. Last year, a former CFL linebacker with a reserve/futures contract, Jerrell Freeman, became a vital piece of the Colts’ defense. Could Lieutenant McNary, a likely situational player, be the next great find? Time will tell. Meanwhile, the risk is minimal, and the potential is intriguing.
For more on McNary, we found a YouTube video of his regional combine workout. He looks fast, strong, and somewhat agile, but he doesn’t appear have great hands. I guess that’s why he’s a linebacker and not a tight end.
One more video, this one of McNary scooping up a fumble in the Armed Forces Bowl, then turning on the jets to take it to the house:
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