Inside Linebacker Shuffling Continues For Colts

Intro: With minicamp arriving later this week and the end of the offseason program, the Colts are busy searching for two starters at inside linebacker.

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INDIANAPOLIS – The line Jon Bostic used has to be music to the ears of Chris Ballard.

"At the end of the day, I wanted to come to a place that would let me compete," Bostic says of his own free agency adventures.

More than a month into the 2017 free agency, Bostic signed with the Colts.

In Indianapolis, Bostic was walking into a culture of competition, created largely by Ballard.

Bostic's position group, inside linebacker, is the center of wide open competition.

A foot injury kept Bostic off the field for all of the 2016 season.

That's not an ideal situation for any pending free agent in a contract year.

So with the uncertainty of free agency hitting Bostic earlier this year, he just wanted a chance.

"I knew I was healthy," Bostic says. "I wanted to come in and compete and go to a place where they were going to put the best player on the field."

The Colts are entrenched in searching for who are those best players at the inside linebacker spots in 2017.

Chuck Pagano, who has been impressed with Bostic's athleticism so far this offseason, has thrown around six names as possible ILB options in the middle of the defense.

The backgrounds of the guys competing vary, with Edwin Jackson the top returner after starting eight games last season.

"We have a bunch of smart guys that are competitors and that's something we bring to the work place every day," Jackson says.

"The guys here love to compete, love to have fun. They love to learn and be coached. Coming to work just makes it a lot easier because you are having fun and having positive competition."

Competition. Competition. Competition.

The theme of the 2017 offseason, at no position more so than inside linebacker.

"We like competition and we like having fun," Jackson says.

"When you are going out there and competing every day, when you think you want to chill and calm down, they help you get back up and say, 'I've got to be on my toes,' because they know that everybody is working and we are a team at the end of the day."

Through all this competition, there are a few traits Pagano is looking for in his 2017 inside linebackers.

"Obviously guys that can run and hit and smart guys that can get you lined up," Pagano says.

"You've got to have cover guys now because there's so much (three wide receivers, one tight end, one running back) personnel that we're facing. Sixty-five percent of the time, we're in sub-defense. This is a mismatch league as you guys obviously know so you've got to have guys that can run."

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