Adongo tries to go from rugby to NFL

INDIANAPOLIS -- At some point early during Thursday’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals, look over at Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano and you’ll likely see a player wearing the No. 46 jersey standing near him.

It’ll be like that in the second, third and fourth quarter, too.

Linebacker Daniel Adongo stood close to Pagano in the first three preseason games.

The rookie likes to stand near his coach so he can learn, and also be ready in case he gets called into the game.

The coaching staff hasn’t called his name yet and they likely won’t call on Adongo against the Bengals.

“I don’t think we’re ready to throw him out there yet,” Pagano said. “I’m just going to protect Daniel from himself. I’m not worried about him giving effort. I’m not worried about him knowing what to do. I’m just worried about the speed of the game and our opponent, and something happening to him.”

Adongo will likely be cut once the Colts trim their roster to the league-mandatory 53 players by 6 p.m. on Saturday. He was a long shot to make the team from the start, but he has unique story on how he ended up joining the Colts for training camp.

Adongo had never played football before. His sport was rugby. He even played in the highest level of pro rugby in the world.

The Colts contacted him via email about three weeks before training camp to see if he would be interested in participating in training camp.

So after about an 18-hour flight -- with a layover in Atlanta -- the 6-5, 257-pound Adongo joined his new teammates for the start of training camp at Anderson (Ind.) University last month.

Adongo has been a sponge, soaking in all the knowledge his teammates have given him about the game.

“It’s meant a lot to me from an emotional standpoint,” Adongo said. “Coming to America for my first time and playing football for my first time. It’s been encouraging. I’ve got a lot of friends.”

Adongo has the luxury of wearing pads and a helmet when he plays -- something he doesn’t get with rugby -- but Pagano is worried about his safety on the field.

“Guys have been playing five, six, seven years in the league running down on a kickoff and [don't] see a trap block coming,” the coach said. “I just don’t want to throw him into a situation like that right now where he doesn’t have a full grasp of everything going on. I don’t want to do that to that kid.”