Colts sign free agent safety LaRon Landry

By MICHAEL MAROT - AP Sports Writer
    2013-03-13 23:56

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indianapolis Colts are spending fast and freely in free agency.

One day after signing five players to contracts, Pro Bowl safety LaRon Landry became the newest addition by signing a four-year contract with Indy late Wednesday night.

``We're ecstatic about this signing,'' general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement issued by the team. ``We feel LaRon is an absolute game-changer and a true impact player. We're talking about a 220-pound safety that runs 4.3 (in the 40-yard dash) and plays to that speed. His approach to the game and his style of play are lights out and embody the culture we're building on the defense and this team in general.''

In less than 48 hours, the Colts have spent a good portion of the $40 million they were able to spend in free agency, and they've made a concerted effort to address their most glaring needs - protecting quarterback Andrew Luck, getting bigger at linebacker and rebuilding a secondary that struggled the past two seasons.

At 6-foot and 220 pounds, Landry should provide a more physical presence in a secondary that has traditionally been undersized.

Landry is both big and a big-hitter and he's proven to be durable, too. In his first five NFL seasons, all in Washington, Landry started 79 of 80 games. Last season, with the New York Jets, he was selected to the AFC's Pro Bowl team after recording a career-high 113 tackles, matching his career-high with two interceptions and forcing four fumbles.

While team owner Jim Irsay confirmed the length of the deal on Twitter, the Colts did not immediately release financial terms of the deal.

Landry will now work in a revamped secondary that includes cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Greg Toler, two-time Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea and former Notre Dame star Tom Zbikowski. Of those five, only Bethea has been with the Colts more than one season.

Indy signed Zbikowski as a free agent last season from Baltimore. Toler was one of signees in Indy's signing frenzy Tuesday, and they got Davis from Miami just before the start of the 2012 season for a second-round pick in this year's draft. Davis is a former first-round pick.

The Colts are hoping a new philosophy translates into stronger play.

``I don't do too much talking. I play hard-nosed football. I stick my nose in the fan if it's a run,'' Toler said Wednesday. ``I'm going to cover up the pass. I'm not going to let them pick on me too much.''

A year ago, Grigson focused on putting the key pieces in place around rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. He used Indy's first four draft picks on offensive players -- Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen and receiver T.Y. Hilton -- and brought in three veteran offensive linemen, all of whom started in 2012.

He continued reinforcing the line by signing right tackle Gosder Cherilus and guard Donald Thomas on Tuesday.

``When I went through the whole process, I called a whole bunch of guys that I've played with who played here last year and they had nothing but great things to say about the whole team,'' Cherilus said. ``The whole organization from (coach) Chuck Pagano to (left tackle) Anthony Castonzo, they had nothing but positive things to say. It was time to make the call, I just told my agent to go ahead and make the call.''

But the primary focus this offseason is to rebuild a defense still making the transition from a traditional 4-3 front to Pagano's 3-4 scheme last season.

The second phase of the plan includes putting more pressure on the quarterback, adding size and getting more physical in the secondary.

Indy believes it filled some of the holes by signing Toler and linebackers Lawrence Sidbury and Erik Walden on Tuesday.

``I felt like my role was a little held back in Green Bay, always was like a little tagalong,'' Walden said. ``Now I'm walking taller where I can just take over and take charge and be the man. That's what I plan on doing.''

Landry is the latest addition and he can't wait to get started.

``Thank u Jet Nation 4 da best yr of my NFL career!!'' Landry wrote on Twitter. ``Indy r u ready 2 start?"

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