Last season, linebacker Josh McNary missed the cut for the Indianapolis Colts‘ 53-man roster. This year, he’s starting the season as an active member of the team. Obviously an NFL roster is never “final,” but McNary will be delightful to watch as the season opens against the Denver Broncos. He’s another prime example of general manager Ryan Grigson mining talent from unexpected sources.
Last year, McNary was a 25-year-old rookie, fresh off his two year commitment to the United States Army. He’s from a military family; his father’s a Marine, and both of his grandfathers are war veterans. He attended West Point, where he majored in engineering management. Grigson had his eye on McNary back in 2010, when Grigson was still working for the Philadelphia Eagles and McNary was making a national name for himself collecting sacks for Army.
McNary never got to experience the NFL draft. He signed with the Colts as a free agent last year, and then got injured in training camp, preventing him from playing in any preseason games. So last year, when Final Cuts Day came, McNary was released, cleared waivers, and ended up on the practice squad, even though he hadn’t played a competitive football game in two years. By the end of November, McNary was signed to the active roster, just in time for the Week 13 home game against the Tennessee Titans. He stayed on the active roster through the end of the playoffs.
Pundits seem to agree that he, along with rookie Henoc Muamba out of the Canadian Football League, will be critical to the Colts’ defensive success this season. They’re exactly the sorts of players Colts fans will love cheering for.