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Indianapolis Colts


It was a busy Wednesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center with the Colts welcoming their five latest free agent signees. In the next few days, will take a closer look at each of the free agents, starting with Donald Thomas on Thursday.





INDIANAPOLIS –Tuesday was the first day of NFL free agent activity, and the Colts made an impact by agreeing to terms with five players – offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, defensive end Lawrence Sidbury, linebacker Erik Walden, offensive guard Donald Thomas and cornerback Greg Toler.

Each visited the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center and was introduced today.


Gosder Cherilus did his homework when it came to searching for his next path on a productive NFL career.

After endless calls to people he trusted around the league, it was the "youthful, up-and-coming" Colts that turned a can-be stressful free agency feeling into a relatively smooth one.

"When I was going through the whole process, I called a whole bunch of guys that I've played with that pretty much played here last year, and they had nothing but great things to say about the whole team, the whole organization, from Chuck Pagano to Andrew Luck to Anthony Castonzo.  When it was time to make the call, I just told my agent it's a no brainer," Cherilus said.

Cherilus, a 6-7, 325-pound right tackle, started 71-of-74 games for Detroit after being chosen in the first-round of the 2008 draft.

In Indianapolis, Cherilus could complement another former first-round Boston College product in Anthony Castonzo, a player that he considers family.

"He's my brother," Cherilus said of Castonzo.  "I'm just glad of the fact that Mr. Grigson and the Colts gave me an opportunity to play with him."


* *

When the Indianapolis Colts came calling for Lawrence Sidbury, it did not take long for him to hear what he needed to from Ryan Grigson.

"I feel wanted," Sidbury said.  "I'm coming here because they want me to be here."

Grigson attended Sidbury's pro day at Richmond in 2009 and has thought very highly of the potential he brings as an edge rusher.

During his four years in Atlanta, Sidbury played primarily as a defensive end in 48 games but will make the transition to a standup role in the Colts' 3-4 hybrid defensive scheme.

Sidbury was impressed by the young team's success last season and is eager to play a role in that effort this year.

"I want to get an opportunity here to help this team win, get after the quarterback some and play in this defense," Sidbury said.



* *

During his five seasons in the NFL, Donald Thomas has been used to playoff football and keeping Pro Bowl quarterbacks upright.

Thomas will continue that trend in Indianapolis as he moves to the "other side of the fence" in the Colts-Patriots rivalry.

* *

"I really liked what I saw was happening with the program here," Thomas said of moving from the Patriots to the Colts.  "The way things have taken shape, I feel like we really have a great team here that's on the rise.  I just wanted to become a part of that.

"When you are able to go to another team and have a good quarterback, one that is on the rise and maybe could become one of the great, legendary quarterbacks in the game, that always helps you make your decision to want to play with them."


The Colts defense has had a history of turning small-school defenders into starters and eventual Pro Bowlers, ask Antoine Bethea and Robert Mathis.

Well, perhaps Greg Toler is next.

Toler was a fourth-round pick of Arizona after back-to-back all-conference seasons at Division II St. Paul's College.

It has not been the easiest path to the NFL for Toler, and it is that motivation that is living with him every day.

"Coming from St. Paul, I've always been an underdog," Toler said.  "I never want anybody to outwork me."


* *

Erik Walden is familiar with playing with the game's elite pass rushers.

From Jason Taylor to Clay Matthews, Walden has learned from some of the finest edge players in the NFL, and he will add to that list in Indianapolis with Mathis.

Much talk this offseason for Indianapolis has centered on who will line up opposite Mathis.  If it is Walden, he wants Colts fans to know what they will see.

"You are getting an aggressive, high-motor (player) and a guy that is passionate and holds himself to the highest standard, where he's going to make sure he's prepared every week to be the best player he can be and also be productive and disruptive, making impact plays, not just solid plays, game-changing plays," Walden said.

At age 27, Walden is ready to emerge as a full-time starter and follow in the footsteps of the Pro Bowlers he has lined up with in the past.

"Now I have an opportunity to take over, take charge and be the man.  That's what I plan on doing," Walden said.

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