INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is sticking to the plan.
He wants to find more competition through the draft and free agency – and that’s not changing simply because team owner Jim Irsay isn’t around.
At the team complex, Grigson said it’s been pretty much business-as-usual since Irsay was arrested Sunday night following a traffic stop. He faces preliminary charges of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated and four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance.
”He leaves the football stuff to me. He trusts me. That’s what he hired me to do,” Grigson said during Friday’s conference call with local reporters, his first public comments since the arrest. ”If there’s something major, a transaction that’s going to go down, or I need to use his plane in free agency, or if there’s something I need to lean on him about in terms of using his football knowledge, from my benefit and the club’s benefit, then I reach out to him.”
Normally, in mid-March, Irsay, who once served as the Colts GM, is involved with draft preparation and signs off on any major deals.
It’s a lot different right now.
On Tuesday, Irsay’s family issued a statement saying he had voluntarily checked himself into a treatment facility. The move comes more than a decade ago after Irsay acknowledged a painkiller dependency. It’s unclear when Irsay will return to run the team.
If Irsay is charged and convicted on the felonies, he could face six months to three years in prison on each one. Irsay also could be fined or suspended by the NFL.
But it’s not as if Grigson doesn’t have help. He usually consults with coach Chuck Pagano before making decisions and one of Irsay’s daughters, Carlie, also is filling in while her father is out.
”Basically, Carlie is just in place of Jim, for right now,” Grigson said. ”He’s never been a micro manager, never has meddled or anything like that. He leaves football decisions up to myself and the head coach. He’s really been great in that respect. Carlie is going to be in his place while he’s recovering.”
With or without Irsay, Grigson likes the direction Indianapolis is going.
Before the free-agent market opened March 11, Grigson devoted much of his time trying to work out deals with his own players. Eventually, he re-signed a handful of players including punter Pat McAfee, kicker Adam Vinatieri, running back Ahmad Bradshaw and cornerback Vontae Davis.
He also dipped into the free-agent pool and plucked linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, defensive lineman Arthur Jones, receiver Hakeem Nicks and center Phil Costa.
Grigson may not be finished, either. Last year, he nabbed receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey in April and Bradshaw in June – a scenario that could be in play again.
”We feel real good where we are at right now,” Grigson said. ”Of course, we are going to look toward the draft, but you never say never. We are always trying to get better.”
On the field, the big questions primarily surround Indy’s injured players.
Grigson said the rehab process is on schedule for starting guard Donald Thomas (quad) and running back Vick Ballard (knee). The team has already said starting tight end Dwayne Allen (hip) is healthy, too.
What about perennial Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne, who tore the ACL in his right knee in October?
”Reggie is just one guy we don’t have to worry about,” Grigson said. ”He’s kind of like that Jerry Rice type mindset. He just doesn’t stop working and he’s so determined. I really don’t worry about him and I know Chuck doesn’t. I feel like he’ll be ready to roll.”
Grigson hopes that’s the case with Irsay, too.
”Everyone in the building loves the man,” Grigson said. ”We all would run through a brick wall for him. We all just really wish him a full and complete recovery and we are all really pulling for him.”