Jacques joins Colts

One of the Indianapolis Colts' starting guards in last January's Super Bowl, Kyle DeVan, was signed a year ago as a free agent from the Arena League. The other starting guard, Ryan Lilja, was claimed on waivers in 2004 and was released last month.

Given the team's unstable situation at the position, it's understandable that former University of Tennessee guard Jacques McClendon was elated to be selected by the Colts in Round 4 of the recent NFL Draft. The chance to play right away for a Super Bowl contender represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Although he earned High School All-America recognition at Chattanooga Baylor, McClendon's greatest honor as a collegian was Academic All-SEC. The 6-3, 324-pounder started 26 games at guard for the Vols, including all 13 in 2009, but was not regarded as a draft-worthy player by many NFL analysts.

Shortly after drafting McClendon, however, Colts president Bill Polian vowed: "We'll play the five best players. Position doesn't really mean much."

McClendon lacks the footwork to play tackle, however, so he'll be competing for a roster spot in preseason against fellow guards DeVan, Mike Pollak, Jamey Richard, Jaimie Thomas and Andy Alleman.

DeVan (6-2, 306) started the last nine games of 2009-10 at right guard. He is a second year pro out of Oregon State who, as noted earlier, was signed as a free agent a year ago after a stint in the Arena League.

Pollak (6-3, 301) started the first seven games of 2009-10 at right guard. He is a third-year pro out of Arizona State who was selected in Round 2 of the 2008 NFL Draft. He started 13 games for the Colts as a rookie in '08.

Richard (6-5, 295) played in nine games last season, mostly contributing on special teams. He is a third-year pro who was taken in Round 7 of the 2008 draft out of Buffalo.

Thomas (6-4, 330) spent 2009-10 on Indianapolis' practice squad.

Alleman (6-4, 310) is a fourth-year pro from Akron who was signed as a free agent earlier this year after being released by Kansas City. He started three games for the Chiefs in 2009-10.

Head coach Jim Caldwell has good things to say about McClendon at Colts.com, the franchise's official website:

"He gives us a pretty stout guy inside at the guard position and one with obviously athleticism as well. He's a guy who can give us some real anchor there in the middle. He's highly competitive and an extremely bright guy. He's a guy who has intellectual capability to learn our system and learn it quickly."

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