By Corbin Smith
When Colts general manager Ryan Grigson signed safety Laron Landry this spring, he knew that he had a long injury history. However, his potential on the field made him a risk worth taking.
Known for his incredible physique, Landry lived up to his new contract the first two weeks, as he ranks second in the NFL in total tackles with 26. He's a tackling machine who has also done a quality job in the secondary against the pass, but his injury problems don't appear to be behind him. He managed to stay healthy for all 16 games last year with the New York Jets after missing a combined 14 games his final three seasons with the Washington Redskins, and he used his strong campaign in New York to earn his latest contract in Indianapolis.
Unfortunately for the Colts, his long stretch of good health came to an abrupt end this week. Landry missed the entire week of practice after suffering an ankle injury against the Dolphins this past Sunday, and now the team will have to travel to San Francisco without his services in the secondary. Pagano's defense has already had major problems giving up big plays, and his absence could make things worse against a talented 49ers offense.
Enter in Joe Lefeged, a former starter who has played well in spurts during his two-plus years in Indianapolis. As a rookie in 2011, Lefeged gained valuable experience playing for a lousy Colts team that only won two games, and he recorded 34 tackles and two interceptions on the season. Last year, he nearly matched his tackle total from his rookie campaign, but he mostly saw the field as a special teams player during the latter stages of the season. Not having Landry available will definitely hurt the defense, but Pagano can take solace in the fact that his backup has started for this team in the past and should be prepared to replace him this week.