When the NFL finally phoned again, linebacker Andy Studebaker was grateful the Indianapolis Colts were on the line.
The special-teams standout spent the previous two seasons with the Colts, playing in 29 games including the playoffs with one start. After the Colts cut him at the end of preseason, nobody picked him up.
After seven seasons, it’s human nature to wonder if this was the end of the road. He and his wife and two daughters returned to Kansas City, where he had played the first five seasons of his career.
“We were back in Kansas City, just training and keeping my phone charged,” he said last week, after the Colts re-signed him. “A little bit frustrating, but, you know, just staying ready. That’s all I could do.”
The Colts had a need when special-teams captain Colt Anderson suffered an ankle injury. He didn’t practice last week and missed his first game of the season Sunday.
While Studebaker, 30, Congerville, Ill., has been a part of Colts playoff teams, the fact he’s joining a team that could miss the postseason doesn’t matter. He just wanted to play again and support his family. His wife is expecting twin boys in late January.
“The reality is there’s opportunity here now and take advantage of it,” he said. “That’s the goal.”
He thought the Colts might call. It’s what he was hoping, anyway.
“When you finally see the caller ID hit, you’re like, ‘Oh, good,’” he said.
The last image Colts fans had of Studebaker was rather unpleasant. He took a nasty shot in January’s AFC Championship Game against New England at Foxborough, Mass. The visual was of him down on his hands and knees, blood dripping from his mouth.
He can smile about that now.
“Yeah, is he gonna die here?” Studebaker said with a chuckle.
He’s fine and ready for anything.
“I’m good,” he said. “I’m glad that’s not my last play.”
He can play inside or outside linebacker and brings a tenacity to whatever he does, whether that’s special teams or with the base defense. Studebaker has lasted this long in the league because he is versatile and plays with intensity. Mostly as a reserve, he’s made 110 tackles with 2.5 sacks, five passes defended, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He’s played in 101 games with nine starts.
“Just play as hard as you can,” he said. “You don’t know what opportunities are going to come in my role. One day, you’re playing special teams. The next day, you’re starting. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. The goal here is to be prepared and just jump right in.”
The silver lining to being away from football was spending quality time with his daughters, 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 years old. And the family is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the twin boys. They’re due no later than Jan. 22.
“It could happen as we’re talking,” he said. “You just don’t know. Little bit of a wild card with twins.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.