In four out of the past five seasons, safety LaRon Landry hasn't played in all sixteen games of a season. The one year in the past five that he did play in every game, Landry made the Pro Bowl. Clearly, Landry is a good player who can play at a high level when healthy, but who has trouble staying healthy. He missed some offseason work, some training camp, and then the first preseason game because of a "soft tissue" injury that Landry said was actually a hip issue, but he's back now.
"I feel healthy," Landry said when talking with the media Thursday. "I'm not going to say I'm over the top, feel where I want to be because we are still building. That's why there's preseason, that's why there's practice every day and just to prepare for the season. As far as health wise, I feel great. As far as performance, I've got a lot of things to work on, a lot of things to tweak, as we all do."
He's working and trying to improve on every aspect of his game now that he is back healthy. "I touch up on everything," Landry said. "Tackling, communication, that's the main thing being in the secondary is just communicating and making sure that everybody is on the same page. There's never enough that you can work on. There's not one key thing that I can say, ‘This is what I need to do better.' I brush up on everything."
Landry said that part of the reason why he's working on improving everything is because he sees himself as an interchangeable safety - the same type of safety that Chuck Pagano wants. Landry said he can and he has played both the free and strong safety spots and that he doesn't really have a preference between the two. "To me safety is safety. You've got to cover the half," Landry added. "You've got to play man-to-man. You've got to play the middle and go down in the box and be a linebacker. I try to work on everything. That's why I say there's no one specific thing, to brush back on that, there's no one specific thing that I should say I need to work on. Because being interchangeable you have to do everything."
He's got to be an enforcer back there," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said of Landry. "He's got to be a dominant, dominant football player, which he's done and will continue to do. We need all those guys, we need more interceptions, more out of all of them. Just make the plays you're supposed to make, be where you're supposed to be and the rest will take care of itself."
Pagano was asked what the biggest thing Landry needs to improve on is, and Pagano said that it's simply to be out there for all 16 games. That in itself would be a huge step forward for Landry, and I'm confident that if he could be out there for every game, he'd play well. I think a lot of his struggles last year had to do with his injury, and it's just unfortunate that he's been injury-prone recently. He feels healthy now, and all we can do is hope that he remains healthy. The Colts sure need him to.