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Rugby star eager to prove himself with Colts
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Daniel Adongo is finally starting to feel comfortable with the Colts.
That’s good: The Kenyan rugby star is about to play his first football game _ ever _ when Indianapolis faces Cincinnati on Sunday in a showdown of division leaders.
Adongo has figured out the lingo and nuances of the sport, learned the proper way to put on pads and a helmet, and knows his place in the Colts’ locker room. There’s still more work to do, but the newly minted linebacker will get to show the whole football world how far he’s come in four months.
He will be primarily on special teams, but playing football for the first time in the NFL in a game with playoff implications?
“I am excited,” Adongo said Wednesday, one day after being promoted from Indy’s practice squad to the active roster. “As I said before and I’ll reiterate it, my excitement is being subdued by the fact I have a task, an obligation and a duty to perform what’s being asked from me for the coaches and my teammates.”
It was late July when general manager Ryan Grigson decided to take the plunge after a yearlong quest to find an overseas player who could help his team. Grigson gambled on Adongo, a Kenyan native and world-class rugby player who was big, fast and had a penchant for hitting.
Adongo, surprised initially by the invite, made the flight to Atlanta, then hopped on a connecting plane to Indy and worked out at the Colts’ headquarters during a rookie mini-camp. Within hours, the Colts signed Adongo to a contract and two days later, the 6-foot-5, 257-pound football novice stood out when he reported to training camp in a pair of short shorts and soccer-style shirt.
By some accounts, Adongo has become a major headache for the Colts’ offensive line in practice. And now that he’s up to 270 pounds, he could create problems for opponents, too, if he gets into the game as a pass-rusher at Cincinnati (8-4).
The Colts (8-4) are being patient, though.
But with Adongo showing steady progress in practice and Mario Harvey, a key special teams player for Indy, going on season-ending injured reserve with a torn meniscus Tuesday, the Colts decided to give Adongo a chance. Coach Chuck Pagano said he expects the rookie to play primarily on special teams and he’s confident Adongo will make a difference.
“The guy is a smart guy. We know from a physical standpoint he’s very, very athletic. He can run. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s a tireless worker. He’s been a great pro,” Pagano said. “Even though he hasn’t played, he’s picked up a ton. Our veteran guys, guys like Robert (Mathis) and the rest of the guys in the defensive room, have been tremendous working with him and mentoring him and bringing him along and helping his development to this point.”
One thing the Colts do know is that Adongo can hit.
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