Including playoffs, LaRon Landry had started fifteen games in a row at safety for the Indianapolis Colts. Then came a suspension from the National Football League for PED use, resulting in Landry missing the next four games for the Colts. In his absence, Sergio Brown stepped up and filled the starting role, and he provided a spark for the Colts' defense.
The Colts weren't too anxious to get Landry back, as after the four-game suspension the Colts didn't activate him until after another game. Landry returned to the team during their bye week, but it soon became clear: he wasn't returning as the starter. Sergio Brown was retaining that role, so Landry would be a role player, backup, and special teams player. After missing five games from the suspension, Landry then spent the next five games active but as a backup. It was here that Landry really began to play well, and he played the role the Colts asked him too. And each week, Landry began to get more and more involved in the defense. By the time he started against the Dallas Cowboys, not many noticed. He then started the regular season finale against the Titans, and in the playoff game against the Bengals he also started - with Sergio Brown not seeing a single snap. The message was clear: LaRon Landry was back as the Colts' starting safety.
"He came back and he was a backup," head coach Chuck Pagano said today. "We asked him to do this, this and this and he would participate on special teams and he did that. He split time. His reps every week continue to go up and he's played well. Sergio (Brown) has played well but he's earned his job back, so that's why he's back starting."
One of the positives to come out of the final two months of the season was Landry's improvement. He played a controlled, specific role in the defense, but he did so very well and he stepped up his game. And the Colts began to ask him to do more and more each week. Maybe it was the Colts finally figuring out how to use Landry better, or maybe it was Landry getting a reality-check from his suspension. But whatever it was, we've seen an improved LaRon Landry since his return, and that's led to a return to the starting lineup for the safety.
While the Colts didn't do so on Sunday against the Bengals, it would be smart for them to continue to give both Landry and Brown playing time at safety. Against Cincinnati, there was less of a priority to get Brown involved, as the focus was on stopping the Bengals' run game. In that area, Landry is a valuable player to have around and his strength is in defending the run. Brown's strength is in pass coverage, and so while Landry is back starting, the Colts would be smart to continue to use both safeties this weekend against the Broncos.