INDIANAPOLIS –Ryan Grigson took the combine podium at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. He smiled, relaxed and spoke freely about his passion – football.
It was something he could not do a year ago.
"It's funny after a year's passed how everyone tells me how miserable how I was up here. (They said) I was fidgety and uncomfortable and sweating bullets. Those things are all true," said Grigson. "It's definitely easier for me to be up here and talk about football and not have to be too guarded. Last year I had a lot of things going on that I couldn't talk freely about. This year is better."
Last year, major decisions faced Indianapolis, ones that meant the departures of many popular players and ushered in a new era of creating new household names.
The Colts were 11-5 and made the playoffs. Grigson nabbed executive-of-the-year honors.
Thursday was not a victory lap. The personnel grinder is back at it as 333 draft eligible players are in town.
"Picking at 24, we feel there's going to be a good player there," said Grigson, who feels the cornerback, offensive line and defensive line positions hold promise. "We want that blue (chip) player at 24. We don't want to settle for a need guy."
Grigson said the team has reached out to a number of its free agents to help explain where the club is and to give players as good an idea as possible about their futures.
Two of the club's most prominent 14 unrestricted free agents, Dwight Freeney and Austin Collie, have been informed no contract offer will be forthcoming.
"We felt like our vision moving forward that they weren't part of it at this point," said Grigson. "We felt good about our position groups, about this draft, about free agency. It came down to what was best for the organization, what we felt was best for the player. I felt it was best for both, I really did."
As far as Freeney's position in the 3-4 moving forward?
"Chuck's going to create the best competition," said Grigson. "We have some young guys coming up through the ranks we feel have promise. Some aren't battle-tested. Some hadn't even been in our scheme in their previous stop and we feel they have some of the traits to be that guy. Free agency and the draft, we're going to be looking hard."
A big difference for Grigson this year is cap space that was not available in 2012. Indianapolis had a reported $38 million in dead money last year, while this year estimates are the club has in the area of $44 million to spend.
Grigson much prefers this year's dynamic, though his ability and eagerness in unearthing talent appealed to his core nature.
"Excellent, it's black and white. Last year I was in a different situation," said Grigson. "It's nice to be able to go shopping a little bit. It's nice to know if there's someone I really pine for that I can at least have a crack at him.
"Last year, too, was still fun for me. My scout roots, to go out and dig and find guys other people may have overlooked. Maybe they didn't have to dig so hard because they had the money to get the guys ripe for the taking. That will serve us all well. It's a good spot to be in. We'll still be vigilant in how we do things."
TRAINING CAMP UPDATE – Grigson said no plans have been formalized for the 2013 training camp location. He said he enjoyed the stay at Anderson University, the club's location for the past two years. He said he hopes things work out.
INJURY UPDATE – Grigson said cornerback Jerraud Powers has recovered well from his late-season injury. He hopes defensive tackle Josh Chapman will be healed from his knee injury in time to participate in OTAs. Fili Moala continues to bounce back from a torn ACL, while it is hoped defensive tackle Brandon McKinney will be healed in time for training camp.