Roster holes are rarely found on a team that is expected to contend for an AFC championship, but the Indianapolis Colts have one big issue on defense heading into the season: Safety.
The play of LaRon Landry last season, though spotty, is enough to assure him a quality starting position for the Indianapolis Colts. The strong safety certainly had a down year in his first with Indianapolis, with just 87 tackles and two passes defensed. He recorded no forced fumbles, something he became quite known for during his time in Washington. Landry is decent in coverage, but doesn’t do much in the interception game. He is most known for being a hard-hitting safety, but he finds staying healthy a struggle. Beside longtime starter Antoine Bethea, Landry was only able to stay healthy for 12 games, giving backup Delano Howell the ability to grab some snaps with the starting unit.
Now, Bethea is in San Francisco, and it’s time to find a new starter at free safety beside Landry. There are a few candidates who are slated to fit the job:
Howell is currently taking the first-team reps with the defense at training camp. The young safety is unproven in the game, but has shown flashes of promise in his time playing safety for an injured Landry. Howell is still very raw and can benefit from an off season in the starting spot. He does have a knack for finding where the ball is going to shut down catches, but often gets overzealous and lets the big play through.
Howell’s performance at camp has been decent with the starting unit so far, he looks to be the strong favorite to start Week 1 at free safety.
Adams was one of the late wild-card signings that the Colts had near the end of the free agency hustle. The Colts were expected somewhere in the offseason to address the major problem at safety by the signing of a big name or drafting of a top-tier defensive back. Instead, Grigson decided to add the experienced Adams to a group of inexperienced safeties.
Adams has had a long career that has begun its decline. After a subpar season with the Broncos in 2013, Adams found himself looking for work after being outperformed from within the organization. When the Colts failed to sign top safety prospects Jairus Byrd, T.J. Ward and Donte Whitner, Adams was the lone veteran that wasn’t signed. Most famous for getting lost in the lights in the Broncos AFC Championship loss against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Ravens, Adams has enjoyed a solid career in Denver and Cleveland. The 33-year old brings an immediate increase in defensed passes and will bolster the young guys.
Brown is a long shot from starting for the Colts at safety, but he provides some depth to the position. Brown made a lot of big plays for the Colts on special teams, known for helping Pat McAfee’s punts stop just short of a touchback. He doesn’t possess a ton of skills in pass coverage, but is certainly a serviceable backup safety when needed.