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Antonio Cromartie a “perfect” fit for cornerback-needy Colts

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New York Jets v Oakland Raiders Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With Vontae Davis out for the foreseeable future and several other cornerbacks also dealing with injuries, the Colts are in serious trouble at an important position in today’s passing league. The team didn’t waste much time in addressing that need, as they signed veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie on Monday night.

The fit is, as Colts head coach Chuck Pagano called it on Tuesday, “perfect.”

“[He is] long, athletic, fast, [has] ball skills, [is] intelligent, smart, knows the game as well as anybody I’ve been around,” Pagano continued. “So [the fit is] really good.”

Cromartie has established himself as a productive player during his ten-year NFL career, making four Pro Bowls and being named a first-team All-Pro in 2007. Spending time with the San Diego Chargers, New York Jets (twice), and Arizona Cardinals, Cromartie ranks third among active players with 31 interceptions and seventh among active players with 115 passes defensed. Though his best days are behind him and though a hip injury has caused some concern about his health, he gives the Colts a starting-caliber cornerback to fill in for Vontae Davis. That’s all you can ask for with a signing at this time of year, and even though Cromartie is coming in toward the end of preseason he’s not too far behind in learning the system - thanks to having played in Rex Ryan’s defense for several years with the Jets.

“Just watching him over the years, we know what a great talent and great player that he’s been,” Pagano said on Tuesday. “He had a great workout so I anticipate him to be able to come in here. He is familiar with the terminology. He’s been in a similar system playing for Rex [Ryan] in New York, basically the same system. He started cramming last night once he got signed and got in the playbook. All of the terms, fronts, coverages, pressures, zone-pressures, man-pressures, as he was reading through it he was obviously really excited this morning coming in. The verbiage was damn near the same so I think from a mental standpoint he will be fine, he’ll be a quick study in that regard. Physically, he will start to practice and we will make a determination whether we want to play him this week, next week or whatever or just wait until the start of the season.”

So while it’s unclear when we’ll first get the chance to see Cromartie on the field for the Colts, there’s not expected to be a big learning curve. He’s a significant addition to a huge area of need, and that plus his experience with the system makes him a perfect fit in Indianapolis.