Kendall Langford at home in 3-4 defense

The Colts gave the run-stuffing defensive end $17.2 million, and 8th-year pro says he's more comfortable in a 3-4 scheme.

Kendall Langford isn’t a household NFL name, so eyebrows raised when the Indianapolis Colts recently paid the defensive end $17.2 million over the next four years.

That’s a lot of money for an eighth-year pro who lost his starting job with the St. Louis Rams to 2014 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Aaron Donald.

But Langford, 29, is highly regarded for his ability to stuff the run. And he’s glad to be back in a 3-4 defensive scheme, a formation with which he thinks he’s more suited.

“I feel great about it,” he said recently during offseason training activities. “I’m back at home in a 3-4 scheme, where I was playing a majority of my life. I’m back comfortable in that and I’m looking forward to the season.”

Langford has never missed an NFL game in seven seasons, a streak of 112 consecutive games that is the league’s longest for defensive ends or tackles. Because of his 6-6 and 313-pound size, he got moved inside to tackle.

And because of Donald, a first-round pick who immediately lived up to his billing, Langford was relegated to a reserve role. The Rams released him after last season to save $6 million in cap space.

That the Colts would make a longer-term commitment indicates they think he fits perfectly in their defensive scheme. The team spent $33 million over five years on defensive tackle Arthur Jones a year ago. While Jones was limited by a high ankle sprain last season, he’s expected to team with Langford to provide a stronger front.

“I’m committed,” Langford said, “and I appreciate them being committed to me also.”

Langford was initially drafted in third round by the Miami Dolphins in 2008. He played four seasons in Florida before joining the Rams for the last three. He has 242 tackles and 15.5 sacks in his career, which suggests he’s primarily a run stuffer.

But Colts head coach Chuck Pagano saw more than that during OTA workouts.

“Kendall Langford, you guys are going to be surprised,” Pagano said. “You think we just brought in a run stopper, but he’s shown in some of these 11-on-11 drills that he’s got some pass rush capabilities, will get push inside.”

The Colts drafted Stanford defensive end Henry Anderson in the third round to bolster the position as well. Anderson is expected to back up Langford although the rookie should get his share of snaps to ensure the starters stay fresh.

Pagano was asked about the Colts spending millions in free agency — they also added wide receiver Andre Johnson, running back Frank Gore, outside linebacker Trent Cole and inside linebacker Nate Irving, among others. The specific question pertained to how the new players fit into the Colts’ culture.

“The guys that we brought in, they’re really good football players,” Pagano said, “guys that are selfless, guys that are team players. It’s easy if that’s what you’re asking as far as them adjusting to what our vision is, what our culture is, what our process is, how we go about business, how our locker room is, all those kind of things, how we work, how we practice, how we meet, how we walk through, they’re team guys.

“It’s just like, I’m going to go off here on a tangent, just like a flowing river. What I tell them, ‘You’ve got a flowing river, jump in the flowing river.’ There’s going to be some calm waters. There’s going to be some rapids. There’s going to be some rough waters.’ They tell you when you get in the river, if anybody’s ever been whitewater rafting, ‘If you go in the water, get your feet out front. Make sure you get your helmet on and get your feet out front. Ride the current and go with flow. Go with the flow.’ The guys that are trying to swim upstream and fight the current, what happens to them? You’re going to drown. You’re going to drown. So my deal with all those guys is buy in. Get a left up, jump in the river and let it go. Guess what, something good will happen to you. I guarantee you won’t drown.”

Langford is aware of the team’s recent history. The New England Patriots rushed for 177 yards and three scores in a 45-7 blowout of the Colts in January’s AFC Championship Game. He’s replacing vocal team leader Cory Redding, who was allowed to become a free agent and signed with Arizona. And Langford knows he’s expected to bolster the run defense.

“I would like to play a part in that,” he said. “Definitely I don’t mind going out and doing the dirty work and playing the run. A lot of guys don’t want to do it, but I actually embrace it. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Some of his teammates admitted during OTAs that the Patriots loss has stuck in their minds. Langford quickly realized he’s joined a Super Bowl contender with players who are motivated by playoff losses the past three years, the last two postseasons ending against the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.

“It’s driving guys to (want to) just hurry up and get to the season,” he said. “Start off the season right and put the past behind us. The past is the past, and we move forward from there. You can’t get that game back.”

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


Colts Blitz Top Stories