LaRon Landry evidently doesn’t do remorseful apologies.
In his first interview since returning to the Indianapolis Colts after serving a four-game NFL suspension for using performance-enhancing substances, the closest Landry came to being contrite was the admission, “It was a costly mistake.”
The quick question-and-answer chat with reporters surrounding the safety’s locker lasted about two minutes. The brevity was to be expected, considering Landry doesn’t much care for chatting with the media. He started it off with an answer he would repeat, that his transgression was “in the past.”
True, but he’s still paying for it. The Colts don’t intend to start the 2012 Pro Bowl defender in Sunday night’s game against the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium. He’ll play special teams and get some snaps with the base defense while Sergio Brown makes his sixth consecutive start.
“I’m ready for when my number is called, so I’m still in it,” Landry said of being a substitute after starting 95 of 96 games in his eighth-year pro career.
When his suspension was announced, Landry sent out a suggestive tweet that his situation needed to be explained. But when asked if there was anything he wished to share about why he was suspended, he declined.
“Not really man,” he said. “That was in the past, just glad to be back, happy to be back in the locker room, playing football. We’ve moved past it, so here I am.”
Considered a loner in that locker room, the question becomes how will the Colts receive him. Landry was given a four-year, $24-million contract with $14 million guaranteed in the 2013 offseason. But he has yet to perform at the Pro Bowl level he displayed for the New York Jets two years ago.
Head coach Chuck Pagano recently said he spoke with Landry about being the best player the safety could be. Such conversations aren’t typically had if players are producing.
When the league announced in May that outside linebacker Robert Mathis would be suspended for this season’s first four games for violating the same drug policy, he revealed it was for taking a fertility drug and he apologized to his team and fans.
If Landry apologized to his teammates, he wasn’t saying.
“They welcomed me back with open arms,” he said, when asked if he apologized. “Like I said, we moved past it. I’m looking forward to the Patriots.”
What was his teammates’ reaction to the suspension?
“It was a costly mistake on my part,” he said. “They understand. They know who I am as a person, they know who I am, my work ethic, so they know that I made a costly mistake. Being an eight-year veteran, I should have handled it a different way, but like I said, it’s in the past and I’ve moved forward.”
Landry said he continued to work out and stayed in his playbook during the absence, “so it wasn’t that hard getting acclimated.” But the Colts didn’t activate him right away, instead opting to use the commissioner’s exemption to keep him out of the lineup for the previous game, a 40-24 road victory over the New York Giants on Nov. 3.
Pagano said the decision to start Brown had as much to do with Brown’s solid play as it did with Landry needing to get back into game shape after the long layoff.
“Yeah, he looks good out there,” Pagano said Friday. “He’s moving around good. The calls and the terminology when you’re away for a certain amount of time, I don’t care if you’re playing or coaching, it takes you a little bit to re-acclimate in all areas, physically, mentally, everything. He’s in a good place right now.”
Pagano was asked if Landry would have the same drive despite playing mostly on special teams.
“He’s a football player and he’s a team guy,” the coach said. “He’s going to do whatever he has to do to help the team win.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.