When the Indianapolis Colts first signed Daniel Adongo, the African rugby player had a big adjustment to make, and it was clear that it was going to take a while. He did a lot of standing around in that first training camp, taking everything in and learning the game. Some of the most basic things - like putting on his helmet correctly - needed to be learned, as did some of the more complex things such as learning the Colts' defensive system.
He spent his first season with the Colts on the practice squad before being called up to the active roster late in that 2013 season. Last year in training camp, it was impressive to see how far he had come (while still recognizing that he had more work to do), but his development was cut short by a season-ending injury suffered in the preseason. He now enters year three looking to have a bigger on-field role with the Colts, moving from being a project player to an impact player. He has become something of a fan favorite, and Colts fans are excited (yet rightfully unsure of what to expect) as we get closer to training camp to see what Adongo can do.
He's off to a good start, as he told the Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer that he can now put his helmet on by himself. "I can put my own helmet on, and my shoulder pads on, all by myself," Adongo told Keefer, all the while with a smile on his face. "I even know the type of adjustments to make."
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano agreed that Adongo is making progress. "He's a lot further ahead than he was any time since he's been here," Pagano told the media on Wednesday. "He's healthy obviously. He's missed some significant time because of injury. He's healthy. He's in good shape. I think he has, obviously, a much better understanding of the defense than he ever has. He's out there competing with the rest of the guys. We've got a bunch of guys at that outside spot, some guys aren't taking some reps for obvious reasons because of injuries and things like that. He's taken advantage of his opportunity right now to get some reps with ‘E-Wal' (Erik Walden) kind of being held out a little bit. We're erring on the side of caution with him and Bjoern (Werner) and obviously Robert (Mathis) out and things like that. He's getting a few more reps than he normally would."
Nobody is really sure what to expect from Daniel Adongo this year. In training camp last year, he showed impressive pass rush skills for a player who had spent just over a year in football, but it's unclear how he'll measure up with the other players on the roster and how he'll do in coming off of an injury last year. There is hope surrounding the outside linebacker because of his athleticism and because of the fact that the Colts have been working with him for over two years now, but we'll have to wait until we see him on the field to tell how effective he can be. It sounds like he's off to a pretty good start this offseason, however, and let's hope that carries over into training camp and beyond.