INDIANAPOLIS – To say defensive tackle Dan Muir's return to the club is a 'homecoming' of sorts would not be accurate completely.
Yes, he played with the club for three seasons. Yes, it is true he was not with the club during the offseason, or in training camp, or in any of the first five games.
The reason it truly is not a full homecoming is that he never physically left Indianapolis for good. The club did not re-sign Muir after last season. He joined the Rams in training camp but was waived at the final cut to the 53-man roster. The transaction meant Muir needed to return home. It meant he was coming back to Indiana.
"I was watching from my house here locally," said Muir when asked where he watched his former teammates for the past five weeks. "I was in training camp with St. Louis, but for the regular season I was here."
For the Kent State product, watching the Colts was not a 'some-of-the-time' thing, it was 'must-watch' television. He was very attentive and hopeful he could contribute again.
"Definitely, not some of the games, I watched everything," said Muir. "I definitely see where I can come in and help at the D-tackle position. Just coming in and working, that's what I know how to do, just work."
Muir got the call from the Colts on Tuesday. He zipped a few miles to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center to sign and he was back today to practice. Practicing was much better for Muir than being a spectator.
"It was tough," said Muir. "It was tough watching and being at home knowing I could help. It was tough, but I'm just looking forward to getting this thing started, coming in and doing my job to help."
Muir has been a presence on the line for the Colts in the past, and a contributing force at that. Muir joined the Colts off waivers from Green Bay on August 31, 2008. He had been a free agent signee with the Packers in May of 2007. Muir was talented enough to be the only non-drafted rookie free agent to make the team out of training camp. He played in three games with Green Bay that season, totaling eight tackles.
Indianapolis personnel officials noticed something in Muir when he was waived, and they brought him in. In Muir's first year with the club, he appeared in six games. He had four tackles and one pass defensed.
The system he was facing with the Colts was much different than what the Packers had asked him to do. Getting versed with the Indianapolis system meant Muir would need to play at a lighter weight. He dedicated himself to the wishes of the club and brought his weight to where he was asked.
It was his second year with the club that things came together for Muir, and he opened 10 of 16 games as the team won its first 14 games. Muir started seven games at left tackle and three at right tackle and he led the linemen with 66 tackles, 54 solo. He had 0.5 sacks and six pressures. Muir's top tackle outing was at Houston on November 29 when he had 10 stops. He went on to total 13 tackles in three post-season games, including Super Bowl XLIV.
Muir started 14 more games in 2010, and he had 38 tackles. He had eight different games with at least three stops, including three five-tackle games.
Indianapolis has encountered injuries along the defensive line in 2011. Tackle Eric Foster suffered an ankle injury at Tampa Bay that ended his season. Tackle Fili Moala returned this past week against Kansas City after missing two games, and ends Jamaal Anderson and Tyler Brayton have taken turns inside to help the unit. Muir feels ready to contribute immediately.
"I know the system. I know the system real well," said Muir on Wednesday. "I don't have to come in and learn anything. I can just come in and produce and help on the field. I definitely feel comfortable in the same system we ran last year. It's good to be back."
Muir has seen the challenges the line has faced in 2011. He has been a part of a 2008 team that started 3-4 before winning its last nine games. He started on the 2009 squad that zipped along from the opening whistle, and he was a part of the 2010 team that was 6-3 before falling to 6-6 before winning its last four games to finish 10-6 and earn a ninth straight playoff berth.
Muir may not have any magic, but he does have a solid perspective on what the defense needs to do.
"Really, just keep doing what they're doing, just keep working. Not to get discouraged in any way. It's football," said Muir. "You have next week. Not to get discouraged in any way, or let any outside influences hinder anything that you're doing. You just have to come in here and go to work, just like they're doing. Come in here and learn the next team you're playing and go out there to win football games, not to lay down or do anything out of the ordinary. Just come in and go to work."
Dwight Freeney can be counted among many teammates who welcome Muir's return to the team. It is the return of a buddy and a body.
"Yes, it is great to see Dan back," said Freeney. "Dan's one of us, he's family. Having a guy like that who has started two years for us, knows the scheme, knows what's going on, it's exciting for everybody. It (his return) is very critical. He knows what he's doing out there. We're thin at the position. (Eric) Foster goes down and we have a guy who steps in and knows the system. Now we don't have to move a defensive end to defensive tackle. Now we have D-tackle D-tackle."
Muir moved easily about the building on his first work day back. It felt like old times for him.
"This is where I am comfortable. I'm comfortable," said Muir. "I know all the guys here not just the players, the training staff, the equipment guys…you guys (the media). It's just good to be back. It's comfortable. I feel at home."