News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 21, 2013

Colts sign nose tackle

Tom James
The Tribune-Star

INDIANAPOLIS — Another day, more player signings for the Indianapolis Colts.

Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin agreed to terms with the Colts on Tuesday evening and officially signed with the team Wednesday. Franklin (6-1, 315) is a 10-year NFL veteran with stops in Baltimore (2003-06), San Francisco (2007-10), New Orleans (2011) and San Diego (2012).

A fifth-round draft pick by the Ravens in 2003, the former University of Tennessee standout can play both defensive tackle in a 4-3 defensive scheme as well as nose tackle in a 3-4 alignment. He will join a growing group of nose tackles currently on the Indianapolis roster, along with Josh Chapman, Brandon McKinney and Martin Tevasue.

Franklin is familiar with the Colts’ hybrid 3-4 set-up due to his association with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. The two worked together with the 49ers. Indianapolis has now signed nine new players since the veteran free agency period began last week.

“Aubrayo is a great fit for our team on many fronts,” said Colts general manager Ryan Grigson. “He’s an excellent run defender that plays with great technique and has played in the scheme for Greg Manusky in the past. We feel he is a veteran ‘pillar’ type addition that will bring a strong intangible package to the field and our locker room. We are all glad he is now a Colt and part of our team.”

It was the opportunity to re-join Manusky that prompted Franklin to make the move to the Colts. He played in 12 games (with nine starts) with San Diego in 2012, totaling 23 tackles, including 19 solo stops.

“[It was] just the chance to get back with my former defensive coordinator, Greg Manusky. Plus these guys made the playoffs [last season] and I feel like they are a contender again,” the Johnson City, Tenn. native said during a Wednesday evening teleconference.

“[Manusky and Franklin] were real close in [San Francisco]. We came in at the same time. It was his first defensive coordinator job and it was my first year up there so we grew together.”

Franklin has appeared in 126 games, making 79 starts over his 10-year NFL career. He holds regular season totals of 431 tackles (230 solo), eight passes broken up, four sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception.

“[I’m] a hard, tough-nosed player, ready to give up my body to allow my linebackers to make plays, be free and make tackles,” he said.

Chapman, a fifth-round draft pick from Alabama last spring, and McKinney are ecovering from knee issues. Neither played last season.

According to reports from Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano, Chapman — who was hurt as a senior at the University of Alabama — appears to be farther along in his recovery and is expected to take part in the team’s organized team activities this spring.

McKinney may not be cleared to resume practice until the start of training camp in August. Tevasue, meanwhile, saw quality minutes as a backup last fall with the Colts.

I I I

n Reitz signs his tender — Exclusive rights free agent Joe Reitz has signed his tender with the team.The versatile offensive lineman started eight-of-nine games with Indianapolis last year.

A graduate of Hamilton Southeastern High School, the 6-foot-7, 322-pound offensive guard has started 17 of the 20 games in which he has played with the Colts the last two seasons.

n Freeney to visit Denver — Former Colts defensive end/outside linebacker Dwight Freeney is scheduled to visit with Denver Broncos officials today.

Despite being Indianapolis’ career sacks leader, Freeney was not offered a new contract when his contract expired March 12.

He is one of three quality defensive ends currently available to prospective teams, along with John Abraham and Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil and the Broncos parted ways late last week after initially agreeing to a new deal.