Indianapolis Star beat writer Mike Chappell gives us Colts general manager Ryan Grigson's insights on third-year offensive lineman Ben Ijalana.
Note: If you are a Ben Ijalana fan, or Ben Ijalana himself, Grigson's words do not sound terribly encouraging.
"Ijalana is just a big question mark,’’ Grigson admitted. "I just know Ben Ijalana from what I saw against Rhode Island in a live game and from what I watched on tape. That’s all I know of Ben.
"He’s big, long and he’s athletic but he’s got to prove that he can stay healthy and that he can be a pro and settle in to be a pro football player. The ability level is there, we just got to see if Ben is going to be a football player.’’
Not a ringing endorsement.
Whenever you hear a general manager describe a player as "we just got to see if [insert name here] is going to be a football player," that translates into, "this guy is injury prone, and if he gets hurt again, he's gone."
Also, Grigson's line about Ijalana needing to prove he's "a pro" suggests Ben might not be approaching his rehab from a recent knee injury with a level of professionalism that is expected. At least, that's how I took that line. Anytime a G.M. questions a player's professionalism, or lists it as something that player needs to "prove" to him, that's not good. Not at all.
These comments are in stark contrast to Grigson ardently defending left tackle Anthony Castonzo, who was taken in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Ijalana was taken in the second round of that same draft.
It should not come as a surprise that Grigson doesn't sound keen on Ijalana. This is the same general manager who nearly waived the former Villanova prospect last season.
Another bit of news from Chappell's article is that Ijalana's left knee was the one he re-injured last year during training camp. There was some confusion from you readers over whether or not Ijalana had injured his other knee. Chappell's article confirms what we were told, and what we reported, early last week.
This is actually good news, Colts fans. If Ijalana had blown out both knees, his career is likely over. Hopefully, he's done enough to get his left knee strong so that he can avoid being Tony Ugoh 2.0.