This week will be marked by two things: Colts vs. Patriots week and Luck watch. The Colts made a move this morning that embraces both aspects by signing a former Patriot and releasing a quarterback. The team signed return specialist Marcus Thigpen and released quarterback Josh Johnson.
Thigpen played collegiately at Indiana University from 2004-2008, where he finished second in school history in career kick return yards (2,009), third in career all-purpose yards (4,658), tied for eighth in career touchdowns (21), while also becoming the first player in school history to record at least 1,000 yards rushing, receiving, and returning kicks. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 but released during training camp, signed by the Broncos shortly after but again released during training camp, and then spent a couple of seasons in the CFL. Thigpen was then signed by the Miami Dolphins in 2012 and spent the next two seasons with the team, playing in all 32 games from 2012-2013. He then played four games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014 before being waived, but he was claimed on waivers by the Buffalo Bills. He played in five games with Buffalo in 2014 and then spent the first four weeks of the 2015 season with the Bills before being released. In his career, Thigpen has played in 45 games and has returned 92 kicks for 2,224 yards and a touchdown (averaging 24.2 yards per return) and has 62 returns of 20+ yards (and seven of 40+ yards). He also has returned 85 punts for 847 yards and two scores (10 yards per return) with nine returns of 20+ yards (and three of 40+), has caught nine passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, and has rushed seven times for 26 yards.
Thigpen will get a shot to be the Colts' return man now, as they are looking for a spark in that area. Griff Whalen has been handling the return duties for the Colts and has done a solid job, in fact having the best returning game of his career just last Thursday. Now, however, it seems like Thigpen will take over that role. Hopefully this move to sign a return specialist gives them the spark that Josh Cribbs couldn't last year.
As for Josh Johnson, his release now leaves the Colts with only two quarterbacks on the roster in Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck, so it would logically seem like Luck is ready to go now, right? Not exactly. Maybe that's the case. Hopefully that's the case. But we just don't know yet, and before you read too much into the release of the third quarterback, keep in mind that the Colts released Johnson last week only to bring him back a little later in the week. Of course, as we all know, Luck didn't play on Thursday, so the release of Johnson last week didn't mean that Luck was ready. Hopefully it will mean that he's ready this time around, but it's not a definitive sign or anything like that.