INDIANAPOLIS --- Preparations for year three in the NFL have arrived for former rugby globetrotter and Colts outside linebacker Daniel Adongo, and general manager Ryan Grigson is hopeful the native of Kenya's elite athleticism will soon be realized on the gridiron.
Adongo is healthy now after suffering a season-ending biceps injury in the preseason opener last year, but in the third year of the Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson era, making the 53-man roster will be even tougher.
"I'm sure there's going to be more than ever some cuts that are going to be heart-wrenching, that are going to be really tough...It should get interesting in terms of the competition level, because I think everyone knows what the stakes are. There's no gray area there," said Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson at the NFL Annual Meeting in March. "That's where the prep work, and doing all the little things are going to be the difference."
Adongo's hometown is Nairobi, Kenya, but played college and professional rugby in South Africa and New Zealand. The Colts found him in 2013 playing for the Southern Kings (South Africa) of Super 15 Rugby, the highest level of pro rugby in the world. He made the practice squad in Indianapolis, then the active roster in December of 2013, before last season's injury abruptly cut short additional chances for on-field development.
"It's year three. He needs to stay healthy. He needs to make plays in the preseason when he gets his chances, because like I said, it's not going to be easy to make this team," Grigson said, before not ruling out the practice squad for Adongo again if necessary in 2015 and remembering his impact there as a rookie.
"He still has practice squad eligibility, of course. That was the one thing about Daniel Adongo. Heck, we can talk about making an award for the practice squad in his honor," said Grigson. "He was the type of player in year one, such a credit to him never even playing the sport, who was the MVP of our scout team."
How? Adongo was relentless.
"He brought it everyday, incited some riots" Grigson remembered with a big smile. "He didn't let anybody rest on their laurels by any stretch. He brought a tempo that the offensive line had to match, and we like that. Sometimes, in week 14, I know some (offensive) linemen didn't like it. At the end of the day, I think they were thankful for it, because they're not going to be playing against some blah, ordinary guy that's just leaning on them, barely coming off the line of scrimmage when they play on Sunday. It's all about getting your guys ready, and Daniel is one of those types of guys. So, it's a big year for him."
And Grigson already saw shades towards the end of last season when his bicep healed of what could be with Adongo if he puts it all together, reiterating the "tremendous promise" he showed before his injury.
"I saw him down in the corner of the endzone (during pre-game warm-ups). I think it was week 16 or maybe the first playoff game," said Grigson. "Just the quickness and tremendous athleticism and length he brings to the table."
The Colts offseason program is underway. Adongo has the measurables at 6'5" and 270 pounds. What he could accomplish would be mind-boggling, considering it's still less than two years since he signed with Indianapolis to try this whole American football thing. Like it was in 2013, it will be fun to watch.