We had our first record at the NFL Scouting Combine Thursday.
Thank you, Ryan Grigson.
The Colts general manager capped a parade of NFL front-office types to the podiums and talked. And talked. And talked.
That’s not a complaint, just an observation.
General managers and head coaches generally are limited to 15-minute windows of availability. Grigson chatted for 29 minutes.
From my perspective, it was appreciated. Grigson was much more at ease than a year ago when he faced the media about a month after being named GM and offered some decent insight into what’s going on with the Colts.
Here’s a sampling:
Injury update: A good good portion of the Colts’ defensive line finished the season on IR – NTs Brandon McKinney (knee) and Josh Chapman (knee), DE Fili Moala (knee) and DL Drake Nevis (hand).
“Chapman, hopefully he’s going to be rarin’ to go,’’ Grigson said. “We played it safe with him (in 2012). I have big plans for him.’’
Grigson hopes Chapman is available for OTAs in May. Nevis has had the cast removed from his hand. McKinney still is rehabbing and the team hopes he’s ready for training camp. Moala tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in late November. He will be an unrestricted free agent March 12, but Grigson indicated the team wants to retain him.
“Moala is doing great,” Grigson said. “He’s a UFA we hope to get back in the fold. We feel good about him. It’s just going to take time to come back from his injury.”
Freeney and Collie: Last week the team informed LB Dwight Freeney and WR Austin Collie they would not be offered new contracts: “We had a lot of discussions about it,’’ Grigson said. “We just felt like our vision moving forward that they weren’t part of it at this point. It was just time. We felt good about our position groups. We felt good about this draft. I feel good about free agency. It just came down to what was best for the organization, what we felt was even best for the player.’’
Colts’ free agents: “I won’t put any names (on it), but we have reached out to guys on our team we’d like to re-sign,’’ Grigson said. “I sat down with players that I wanted to explain situations to them. I try to put as many cards on the table as I can, to be as up front as I can so everyone kind of gets a glimpse of what direction we’re headed. You like to at least let them know what you’re thinking to a point because you want them to be able to wrap their head around their career because there’s unease on their end, too.’’
Free-agent market: The Colts are projected to have approximately $44 million in cap space, and should be active in free agency. That wasn’t the case last season when Grigson was forced to cut several veterans.
“It’s black and white. Last year I was in a completely different situation,’’ he said. “It’s nice to be able to go shopping a little bit. It’s nice to be able to know that if there is someone I’m really pining for, I’ve at least got a crack at him.
“It’s a good spot to be in, but again, still be vigilant with how we do things. We’re not going to do anything fiscally unresponsible because I don’t want to end up being in cap straits. That can really hamstring you. We’ll be smart how we approach it. We’re going to build this thing smart. We’re going to build this thing the right way.”
Supporting Luck: With QB Andrew Luck in place, are the Colts committed to keeping his supporting cast strong?
“The last guy in the last seat in the stadium can see that 12’s pretty good,’’ Grigson said. “You want to take care of him, set the table for him, make sure that he’s comfortable. But you also want to have the best team year-in, year-out possible. You want to have balance.
“Last year if there had been more defensive players in the draft that I wanted or Chuck wanted, we would have went and got them. A couple of times a guy maybe was taken right (ahead of us). That’s just how the draft is. But at that time, every position was a need. We just want to get the best player.’’
Running backs It’s clear Grigson likes a stable of running backs that includes Vick Ballard, Donald Brown and Delone Carter. Ballard led the team in rushing as a rookie with 814 yards.
“Vick did a heck of a job this year,’’ Grigson said. “When I think of Vick Ballard, I think of him flying through the air at Tennessee. Maybe one of the most competitive plays I’ve ever seen.
“Donald was dinged up this year, but he had moments and flashes of greatness. Delone runs really, really hard. He runs angry. Delone was banged up and dinged up this year. We’d love to see all three of those guys healthy in camp and stay healthy. Like to see what emerges.’’
T.Y. Hilton: The team’s third-round draft pick was one of the most prolific rookie receivers with 50 catches, 861 yards and seven TDs.
“T.Y. came on like gangbusters,’’ Grigson said. “I still feel there’s a big arrow up on him. I told him he needs to get in the weight room in the offseason because he’s a peanut. He is.
“He’s relied on his God-given abilities. That’s no fault of his. It’s what has worked for him. I just feel he understands that to be great in this league, you have to be a pro every day and do the little things. That means putting 5-to-10 pounds of muscle on to sustain the hits you take in this league.’’