While rumors of a mega deal for a mystery wide receiver continure to swirl, and Matt Hasselbeck has kinda almost just about finalized a deal to be Andrew Luck's backup, we're going to take a quick look at some quotes and back stories for recent additions LaRon Landry, Donald Thomas, Gosder Cherilus, and Lawrence Sidbury.
OG Donald Thomas
New England Patriots offensive guard Donald Thomas (64) is interviewed by recording artist Ciara (left) during media day in preparation for Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
In summing up his reasoning for coming to Indianapolis, Donald Thomas said, "I feel like we have a really great team here and it’s on the rise. I really wanted to be a part of that.” He's also here because he hasn't been a full-time starter since his second year in the league. It's time for a new opportunity.
The Patriots offensive line is very good, good enough to keep a solid player waiting in the wings behind Pro Bowl-caliber starters. Thomas was one of their top backups, and he started seven games last season, including…that spectactularly awful Colts-Patriots contest.
According to ESPN’s Football Journey feature on him from last year, Thomas was a walk-on at Connecticut who began playing football after his freshman year because he was bored. With some encouragement from UConn football players, he tried out as a sophomore. After working his way up from redshirt to special teams to a backup with a few starts under his belt, Thomas was invited to return as a fifth year senior with a scholarship.
Drafted in the sixth round by Miami, his draft stock possibly lowered by a 2006 arrest for an altercation in a restaurant, Thomas managed to earn the starting right guard spot in training camp. In his first NFL game, however, he suffered a Lisfanc fracture, ending his season. He then started 12 games for the Dolphins in 2009, struggling toward the end of the year, as it was his first true NFL season. The following summer, Thomas was released, which the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Omar Kelly described as both unexpected and unexplained.
Whatever the reasoning for Miami’s decision, Thomas rebuilt his career in New England and is now here in Indianapolis hoping to become a starter once again. “I’m a hard worker,” he said last week. “I haven’t had the glorified roles, so to speak. Everything that I’ve gotten so far in this league I’ve earned.
“I’ve had my setbacks and my injuries. What player hasn’t? But I’ve bounced back from them and I’ve tried to capitalize on what God-given abilities I do have. I pride myself on being a quality offensive lineman and run blocking and pass protecting and opening up holes and protecting the quarterback is the name of the game. That’s truly the thing that I really pride my game on.”
SS LaRon Landry
New York Jets defensive back LaRon Landry (30) breaks up a pass intended for Tennessee Titans wide receiver Damian Williams (17) during the second half at LP Field. Titans won 14-10. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
LaRon Landry hasn’t had a conference call yet, but as a higher profile player who remade his career last year with the Jets, he needs little introduction. Landry earned his first Pro Bowl appearance last year and showed off some surprising coverage skills along the way, batting down eight passes and intercepting two more.
While Landry is a good, sound tackler who is decent in coverage, he is better known for his bone-jarring hits. When asked about Landry’s ability to make a difference, Head Coach Chuck Pagano said, “When our opponents put on the film just like we did this year, he’s a game wrecker. He’s a game changer. When you walk in, people are now going to have to look at it and they are going to have to look at the defensive personnel and one of the first guys they are going to talk about is LaRon Landry.
“They are going to say, ‘We’ve got to account for this guy. We’ve got to make sure we block this guy. They are going to try and do whatever they can to account for him.’ He’s a game-wrecker. He’s a difference maker.”
When asked about the team’s signing of Landry instead of Baltimore Safety Ed Reed, Grigson was very clear that LaRon Landry was their target from the start. “We looked at everyone,” he began. “We looked at everyone. We went through the process and we ended up with LaRon Landry, that’s who we wanted, that’s who we targeted and we got him. We felt he was the best option for us in this free agent market.
“I think he’s a game changer, we feel he’s an impact player, we think he’s special. I mean he was in the Pro Bowl. His film, I could have my 89-year-old grandmother put on the tape and she’ll know he’s a special talent after three plays. Like you said, I mean it’s like a stick of dynamite going off when he hits somebody. His range, his top-end speed, his versatility, the word freak is thrown around a lot, ad nauseam, but he is a true freak.”
Ah, the Grandma Quote. Thank you, Grigson, for that.
OLB Lawrence Sidbury
Dec 27, 2009; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive end Lawrence Sidbury (90) strips the ball from Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) (not shown) and returns it for a touchdown in the third quarter at The Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Bills 31-3. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Who? It’s okay if you didn’t know who he is. Lawrence Sidbury isn’t especially well known, and he will be changing positions for the Colts after playing as a defensive end in Atlanta’s 4-3 system. He was largely a special teams player for the Falcons, sitting at third on the depth chart on the right side of the defensive line. He did see spot time in the line rotation, but only has five career sacks. Sidbury’s contract is a one-year deal worth $715,000, which seems fair for a depth player.
Despite rarely being used on defense in Atlanta, Sidbury possesses good speed for a defensive end and impressive strength. His combine stats from 2009 included a 4.64-second 40-yard dash time (though no one should put too much weight on a 40 time), and 28 bench press reps. He was a raw talent with good measurables from a small school (Richmond). If he can better harness that speed and strength as an outside linebacker in the Colts’ hybrid 3-4 scheme, Sidbury could work his way into the defensive rotation. If he doesn’t, his contract is about as low-risk as they come.
When asked what the team is gaining by signing him, Sidbury said, “They’re getting a very explosive guy. I like to use a lot of my speed in my game. I like to get after the quarterback. I just want to play. I’m hard working and I’m just going to do whatever I have to do.”
He also sounded like he was tired of being buried on a depth chart and is ready for an opportunity to show his ability. “Honestly I think coming to the Colts, I’m an Indianapolis Colt now,” he said. “My Atlanta days are over and done with and I want to get the opportunity to help this team win and help get after the quarterback and come play in this defense. Like I said, they want me here so obviously my opportunity is going to come here. My time in Atlanta is over.”
Only time will tell if Sidbury cracks the rotation, but he certainly seems to have the necessary drive to do so.
RT Gosder Cherilus
Detroit Lions offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (77) blocks during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Lions 26-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
So, what do we know about Indianapolis’s new behemoth right tackle from Haiti? Well, thanks to Colts Authority’s Josh Boeke, we know quite a lot about him. Gosder Cherilus is one of the better right tackles in the league, especially in the pass-blocking department. He’s an intelligent, harder working, team first guy who also happens to be very good at football.
Cherilus participated in conference calls with the Indianapolis media a few days ago, and while all the players had very positive comments about their reasons for joining the Colts, part of his answer should make you proud to be a Colts fan. “It’s a young team, very good team,” he said. “Young good quarterback. Offensive line is pretty young. Great coaching staff. When I went through the whole process, I called a whole bunch of guys that I’ve played with who played here last year and they had nothing but great things to say about the whole team. The whole organization from Chuck Pagano to Anthony Castonzo, they had nothing but positive things to say. It was time to make the call, I just told my agent to go ahead and make the call.”
Cherilus did his homework on Indianapolis, and every last person he talked to had a positive view of the organization, top to bottom. Anyone who’s ever changed employers knows that is a rarity.
Cherilus also talked at length about his relationship with Colts left tackle Anthony Costanzo, who was his teammate for a year at Boston College. “He’s my brother,” Cherilus said of Costanzo. “I actually called him, I wanted to come here and do this whole press conference with me, but he’s out of the country with his girlfriend so he couldn’t be here. But we’ve been friends since he was a freshman at (Boston College). You know freshmen; you don’t talk to them right away. You want to have a feel for the type of guy that they’re going to be. I had a chance to sit back and see how much he cared about the game.
“Within two or three weeks he already picked up the playbook and I realized he was going to be able to help us right away so I put myself in good position to help him out and the fact that he reached out to me and asked me to help him out. I realized no matter how many times I reached out to him to help him out he always asked for extra help I realized that’s just how he was.
“When I first came out as a freshman, I had Jeremy Trueblood do the same thing for me, and I saw a lot of myself in Castonzo so it was a no brainer that I will help him out. So I just put myself out there and told him to ask me if he had any questions. We’re still pretty good friends. When I was out in Detroit and he was here, we’d always call and try to share pointers and stuff. He tells me about my technique and I tell him about his so we just kept going back and forth.”
All quotes are courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts Public Relations Department.
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