When the Indianapolis Colts signed Daniel Adongo - undertaking the task of transitioning an African rugby player to an NFL football player - everyone knew it was going to be a project. When Adongo arrived in training camp, he needed help getting his helmet and pads set, and much of his work was spent observing and trying to learn the game. By all accounts he was dedicated and applied himself to learn the game, working hard and trying to improve.
That improvement showed in training camp last year. During his rookie season, Adongo spent most of the year on the practice squad but also was signed to the active roster for a few games, seeing some special teams action late in the year. During camp last year, however, he showed significant improvement from the year before, particularly in the area of pass rush. But we didn't get to see much of that improvement in preseason, however, as Adongo's preseason was cut short due to a season-ending injury.
So now we enter year three of the Daniel Adongo project, and this could be a key year. His first year was spent learning and playing a few special teams snaps. His second year was spent on injured reserve. Now, he's entering his third year, and we're still not quite sure what to expect from him. How much improvement will he show this year in training camp and preseason compared to last year? Will he show enough to compete for a roster spot? These are questions that many Colts fans have, but questions that we really don't have answers right now.
The Colts do have options at outside linebacker, however. Robert Mathis is returning from a torn Achilles, while the team signed another veteran pass rusher in Trent Cole in free agency. Erik Walden is coming back, as is Jonathan Newsome, who is looking to improve on a good rookie year, and then even Bjoern Werner will be competing for a roster spot. Other guys like undrafted free agents Zack Hodges and Cody Galea will be fighting with Adongo for a spot as well. In short, there will be a significant battle at outside linebacker as players compete for depth spots, and Daniel Adongo could possibly be one of those players. The key for him will be to show the improvement that many hope has happened over the past few years, as his athleticism and natural talent make him a very intriguing guy to work with. If he can play on special teams and contribute there as well, he will have a good shot.
One thing is for sure: the Colts knew that Adongo was going to be a project player, so while some fans might be getting impatient, that's important to keep in mind. Hopefully Adongo shows improvement in camp and earns a spot on the roster, but at this point we'll just have to wait and see in August how the former rugby player is continuing to adjust to the NFL.