2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Grigson gives Colts winning hand in 1st year as GM

By MICHAEL MAROT - AP Sports Writer
    2012-11-14 19:25

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is more comfortable watching practice in sweat pants and sunglasses than he'll ever be standing behind a podium in a stuffy suit.

It's the perfect style fit for the former offensive lineman who is debunking the NFL's conventional wisdom.

He's winning games with a rookie quarterback and one of the league's youngest teams. He's winning when nobody else thought he could, and he's doing it his way - by instilling a gritty, down-to-earth attitude in a team that has no illusions about where it's been or where it's going.

``Obviously, I'm elated, I'm not going to sit here and lie about it,'' Grigson told The Associated Press as he watched practice Wednesday. ``But we're still only at the mid-point of the season. We know six wins doesn't get you anywhere in the postseason, but we feel the organization is going in the right direction.''

Indeed, it is.

Nine games into the season and barely 10 months into his first gig as an NFL general manager, the 6-foot-6 giant has already achieved things longtime GMs only fantasize about.

Grigson has survived the most publicized parting of the offseason, cutting four-time league MVP Peyton Manning, and the shocking release of a handful of other big-name favorites. He stayed calm when other key players left in free agency and ignored the ongoing debate about which quarterback should be taken first overall pick in April's draft - Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.

When anxious fans pleaded for the Colts to make a bold move in free agency, the 6-foot-6 giant stood pat, locking himself inside an office to study game tapes, budgets and ponder the possibilities of what will likely be remembered as the biggest decision of his career: Cutting Manning.

``First of all, how do you replace him?'' Grigson said as he thanked team owner Jim Irsay for taking responsibility for the controversial move. ``You look at him (Manning) and he's a great player, and he's still a great player. But I knew from a fiscal standpoint and an age standpoint, I knew that we had to have a change if we were going to have success in the future.''

Somehow, it all worked out.

Manning is thriving in Denver. Luck is on pace for a historic rookie season. Receiver Reggie Wayne, one of the few veterans Grigson decided to keep around, is having the best season of his career. Two of the three ex-Baltimore Ravens he signed, Cory Redding and Tom Zbikowski, have played key roles on an improving defense, and most of Grigson's draftees have been key contributors, too.

The magnitude of Indy's turnaround has been nothing short of amazing.

A year ago when the Colts headed to New England, they were 0-11 and were surrounded by talk of a winless season. Eleven months later, as they prepare for a return to Foxborough, Mass., they are 6-3 and hold a two-game lead on their nearest competitor for a wild-card spot. They've won despite a rash of injuries, the usual rookie mistakes and even losing their head coach, Chuck Pagano, indefinitely as he battles a form of leukemia.

They've won with a first-time head coach, a first-time interim coach and a first-time GM, who looks nothing like the stodgy front-office folks of years past.

And yet they've done it, in large part, because of Grigson's masterful strokes.

``I think he has to be the executive of the year so far,'' punter Pat McAfee said. ``You look at the wow factor the day of the cuts. Basically, he rebuilt this team in four or five months. We had a great core group of guys here, and the way he picked up the pieces is just amazing.''

How did Grigson do it?

The opinions vary.

McAfee credits the GM for bringing in solid cornerstones to construct the foundation. Redding believes the competitiveness Grigson demonstrates on a daily basis has rubbed off on those inside the locker room. Luck thinks it's all about Grigson's homework and his commitment to making the right calls.

``The first thing that stood out to me is, `Man, this is a big guy','' Luck said, drawing laughter as he explained his experience through the draft process. ``Second, was that you could tell how hard he worked. He was like a tireless worker. He had a great sort of enthusiasm and love for football. Those were the first three things I really noticed.''

Doubters point out that Indy has only beaten one legitimate playoff team (Green Bay) this season as they head to New England (6-3) this weekend.

They contend Grigson has essentially rebuilt the Colts with smoke-and-mirrors in a weak division and against a depleted AFC.

A deeper look reveals something else - Grigson has rebuilt on the Colts with players who were considered top talents when they came into the league.

Luck, of course, provides Indy with the most valuable commodity in football, a franchise quarterback. He's protected on one side by Anthony Castonzo, Indy's first-round draft pick in 2011, and can hand the ball off to Donald Brown, the Colts' first-round draft pick in 2009.

That's not all.

Indy signed the oft-injured Donnie Avery, the first receiver taken in the 2008 draft and used its second and third round draft picks this year on the top two tight ends (Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen). Grigson also traded up to get speedy receiver T.Y. Hilton in the third round and made trades for right tackle Winston Justice, Philadelphia's second-round pick in 2006, and cornerback Vontae Davis, Miami's first-rounder in 2009. He even signed free agent Darius Butler, this week's AFC defensive player of the week, New England's second-round choice in 2009.

Some of those players say Grigson's belief has provided motivation to perform.

``I think it means a lot when you have someone that believes in you that much,'' Justice said. ``It makes you want to play harder.''

The question, of course, is whether the Colts can keep it going.

Players insist they can, and Grigson will have tens of millions of dollars to spend in free agency during the offseason.

But Grigson won't just spend that money on some big-name guy. No, he wants somebody who is willing to fit in with the rest of these gritty guys, who are willing to work sweat it out on blustery November days.

``I'm always thinking about the future and how we can get better,'' Grigson said with a smile as he stared into practice through the sunglasses. ``The players know that, I know that and we want to be the best. As I mature in this role, because I am still a newby GM, I still have a lot to learn. But if we can get better, we will. I'm also sensitive to the chemistry we're building. I don't want to make a splashy signing, I want to make a decision based on what's good for the team.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Kapri BibbsOct 23 07:02p

The Denver Broncos have declared OG Ben Garland, RB Kapri Bibbs, OT Michael Schofield, DL Mitch Unrein, RB Montee Ball, S Omar Bolden, LB Steven Johnson inactive for Week 8.

Manti Te'oOct 23 07:02p

The San Diego Chargers have declared CB Steve Williams, RB Ryan Mathews, CB Brandon Flowers, RB Donald Brown, LB Manti Te'o, LBs Jeremiah Attaochu and Cordarro Law inactive for Week 8.

Perry RileyOct 23 05:49p

Washington Redskins LB Perry Riley (knee) will start as soon as he is healthy enough to do so, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

John SullivanOct 23 05:46p

Minnesota Vikings C John Sullivan (concussion) is still in the testing phase to be cleared for a concussion, but he has not been cleared to this point. Head coach [ More ]

Justin TuckOct 23 05:42p

Oakland Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot), CB Keith McGill (groin), DE LaMarr Woodley (bicep) and FS Usama Young (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. OT Khalif Barnes (quadriceps), [ More ]

Brett KeiselOct 23 05:42p

Pittsburgh Steelers OT Marcus Gilbert (concussion), DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), DT Steve McLendon (shoulder) and SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) didn't practice Thursday, Oct. 23. CB Ike Taylor (forearm) and [ More ]

Lance BriggsOct 23 05:42p

Chicago Bears DE Jared Allen (rest), S Danny McCray (knee) and WR Chris Williams (illness) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. LBs Lance Briggs (ribs), Jonathan Bostic (back), CB [ More ]

Quentin GrovesOct 23 05:42p

Tennessee Titans LB Quentin Groves (ankle) and CB Coty Sensabaugh (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. DE Ropati Pitoitua (hand) and TE Taylor Thompson (knee) were limited.

Zach MettenbergerOct 23 05:34p

Tennessee Titans QB Zach Mettenberger has been named the starting quarterback for Week 8, according to head coach Ken Whisenhunt. QB Jake Locker will serve as the backup quarterback.

Sharrif FloydOct 23 05:32p

Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (hernia) and S Antone Exum (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. LB Gerald Hodges (hamstring), C John Sullivan (concussion), DT Sharrif Floyd (ankle), [ More ]

Nick MangoldOct 23 05:32p

New York Jets OT Oday Aboushi (shoulder), CB Phillip Adams (groin), OG Willie Colon (knee), LB David Harris (shoulder), LB Trevor Reilly (knee) and WR Greg Salas (wrist, ankle) [ More ]

Dashon GoldsonOct 23 05:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Brandon Magee (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. LB Jonathan Casillas (hamstring), OT Anthony Collins (knee), FS Dashon Goldson (ankle) and CB Keith Tandy [ More ]

Daryl SmithOct 23 05:22p

Baltimore Ravens DE Chris Canty (wrist) and LB Daryl Smith (non-injury) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. OT Eugene Monroe (knee) and OG Kelechi Osemele (knee) practiced in full.

Colt McCoyOct 23 05:22p

Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy will start Week 8, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Josh McCownOct 23 05:12p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh McCown (thumb) was limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 23.

Brandon ThompsonOct 23 04:52p

Cincinnati Bengals OT Andrew Whitworth (rest) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. OG Clint Boling (rest) and CB Leon Hall (back) were limited, while TE Kevin Brock (neck), LB [ More ]

A.J. GreenOct 23 04:52p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) sat out of practice for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 23.

Morgan BurnettOct 23 04:42p

Green Bay Packers S Morgan Burnett (calf) and CB Sam Shields (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. DE Datone Jones (ankle) was limited.

James StarksOct 23 04:42p

Green Bay Packers RB James Starks (ankle) was limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 23, after not practicing Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Thomas DavisOct 23 04:33p

Carolina Panthers CB Bene Benwikere (ankle), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), WR Philly Brown (concussion), OG Nate Chandler (thigh), OG Amini Silatolu (calf), OG Trai Turner (knee) and RB Fozzy [ More ]

Jonathan GoodwinOct 23 04:32p

New Orleans Saints C Jonathan Goodwin (knee, ankle) and LB Kyle Knox (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. CB Keenan Lewis (knee, shoulder), LB Ramon Humber (ankle) and [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 23 04:22p

New Orleans RB Pierre Thomas (ribs, shoulder) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23.

R. Griffin IIIOct 23 04:22p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) is unlikely to be ready to play Monday, Oct. 27, against the Dallas Cowboys, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Gruden said [ More ]

Mario WilliamsOct 23 04:22p

Buffalo Bills WR Marquise Goodwin (hamstring) and LB Ty Powell (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 23. WR Marcus Easley (knee) and FS Aaron Williams (neck) were [ More ]

Rashad JohnsonOct 23 04:12p

Arizona Cardinals S Rashad Johnson (knee) underwent an MRI exam on his patellar tendon Monday, Oct. 20, that came back negative. Head coach Bruce Arians said Johnson is dealing with some tendonitis.

Jack CrawfordOct 23 04:12p

Dallas Cowboys DE Jack Crawford (calf), OT Doug Free (foot) and S Jakar Hamilton (non-injury) all did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. LB Bruce Carter (thigh) and DE Anthony [ More ]

Alan BallOct 23 04:02p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Alan Ball (biceps) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 23, and is considered highly unlikely to play in Week 8, according to head coach Gus Bradley.

Toby GerhartOct 23 03:52p

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Denard Robinson will start at running back in Week 8 even if RB Toby Gerhart (foot) is active, according to head coach Gus Bradley. Gerhart will [ More ]

Trent RichardsonOct 23 03:32p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 23.

John BoyettOct 23 03:32p

The Denver Broncos released FS John Boyett from their practice squad Thursday, Oct. 23.

Gosder CherilusOct 23 03:32p

Indianapolis Colts LB Erik Walden (rest) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 23. TE Jack Doyle (knee) was limited during practice, while CB Darius Butler (ankle), OT Gosder [ More ]

Brice ButlerOct 23 03:22p

Oakland Raiders WR Brice Butler could receive more playing time moving forward after making a big play in each of the last two weeks. Butler said he has not [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group