Colts sign vet Antonio Cromartie to address ‘scary’ CB situation
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Injuries that have depleted the top end of the Indianapolis Colts’ cornerbacks room led to the team adding veteran Antonio Cromartie and Chuck Pagano’s generally upbeat persona being put to the test.
Asked Monday about the fitness of his cornerbacks, Pagano paused briefly, then offered an assessment that hardly was reassuring.
“It’s not pretty,’’ he said. “It’s scary right now.’’
That came prior to agreeing to terms on a one-year deal with Cromartie. Financial terms of the contract were not immediately available.
The move came after Monday’s medical update. It was extensive and cast serious doubt on whether two-time Pro Bowl corner Vontae Davis will be ready for the Sept. 11 season opener against the Detroit Lions.
A magnetic resonance imaging test on Davis’ right ankle revealed a medial sprain, or damage to the inside ligament. He suffered the injury in practice last Thursday and limped around the locker room Monday with a bulky walking cast on his right foot.
Pagano described Davis was week-to-week, and the opener is less than three weeks away.
Citing an unnamed source, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Davis is expected to miss at least the first month of the season.
Davis’ injury, while the most concerning, was hardly the only issue at the position:
- Patrick Robinson, signed to a three-year, $14 million contract in the offseason to start alongside Davis, is day-to-day with a groin injury suffered in Saturday night’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. He also was limited during training camp.
- D’Joun Smith, the 2015 third-round pick, still isn’t fully recovered from a knee injury that kept him out of 12 games as a rookie and forced him to miss all of the Colts’ offseason work. He was on a “pitch count’’ against the Ravens which amounted to 15 reps.
- Jalil Brown (foot) has missed the first two preseason games and Darius Butler (hamstring) the last one, although each is expected to practice Tuesday.
“It is what it is,’’ Pagano said. “There’s not much we can do about it other than keep going. We’ll make the appropriate adjustments and Ryan (Grigson) and his staff will scour the landscape.
“We’ll look on the street. We’ll look wherever we have to look. By the 11th of September we’ll fill an outfit that will be ready to go.’’
Monday, that meant plucking Cromartie off the street. He brings a deep resume with 158 appearances and 133 starts with the San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets. He’s a four-time Pro Bowl selection who has missed only two games during his 10-year career.
Cromartie, taken by the Chargers with the 19th overall pick in the 2006 draft, started 15 games with the Jets in ’15, including week 2 against the Colts.
But keep in mind, players signed at this point in the preseason are available for a reason. Cromartie is 32 and has a lingering hip issue, according to NFL.com. The Jets waived him during the offseason after signing him to a four-year, $32 million contract prior to ’15.
Even with the addition of Cromartie, the Colts must rely on a few of their unproven corners to make drastic improvement.
The list includes rookies Frankie Williams, Winston Rose, Darius White and Christopher Milton. Tevin Mitchel spent last season on the Colts’ injured reserve list while Tay Glover-Wright saw limited action in two games in ’15.
White had a tough outing against the Ravens. After drawing a 41-yard interference penalty in the second quarter, he was beaten by Kamar Aiken for a 14-yard touchdown.
Against the Ravens, William, a Purdue product, was on the field for 34 defensive snaps, White for 35 and Glover-Wright 33.
“These are reps that normally you don’t get as a younger player,’’ Pagano said. “We encourage all of those guys to take advantage of those reps.’’
Added Butler: “That’s how this thing goes. You never know when your number’s going to be called. It’s about being ready and taking advantage of the opportunity.’’
More medical matters: Rookie offensive lineman Joe Haeg likely will miss a couple of weeks and might not be ready for the opener after injuring his right ankle against the Ravens.
Further compounding things along the offensive line is the continued absence of Hugh Thornton (right foot). He isn’t expected to practice this week.
Pagano said safety Clayton Geathers (foot), defensive end Kendall Langford (knee) and linebacker Sio Moore (hamstring) are “all doing good.’’
However, the availability of that trio for the opener remains uncertain.