Baaqee Added to Linebacker Mix

LB Mikal Baaqee signed with the Colts as an undrafted free agent on Monday. Here's the scoop on the newest Colt along with a few notes from the Colts workouts this week.

With their linebacker corps already plenty muddled, the Colts reached out and signed former Virginia Tech Hokie, Mikal Baaqee.

A three-year starter at middle linebacker, Baaqee also played the "backer" position in the Hokie's defense, located just a few steps sideways from the middle linebacker.

The biggest knock on him is his size. Depending on who you believe, Baaqee is somewhere between 5'10 -- as mentioned in various stories during his 2004 campaign -- and 6'2 -- as listed in some NFL Draft reviews. He's closer to that 5'10 range unless he had an unusual growth spurt over the last few months.

But if you get past that concern, he's got the quickness and the motor that the Colts like in their players. And he's strong.

Baaqee was a "Super Iron Hokie" a title reserved for the Virginia Tech players who were amongst the best at hoisting the iron in the weight room. Some of his more notable feats included a 575-pound back squat and a 380-pound bench press.

He runs a 4.82-forty and led the Hokies in tackles last year, despite losing some playing time to some speedier youngsters as the season wore on.

Tony Pauline in his TFY Draft Preview described Baaqee as an "Undersized yet explosive linebacker who flies around the field working to get involved in the action. Quick filling gaps in run defense, immediately changes direction and displays lateral speed. Diagnosis the action and disciplined in coverage. Gets depth on drops and reads the quarterback. Fast in pursuit chasing the play from any direction. Tough and always working to get involved."

But he notes that Baaqee also gets "engulfed" at times due to his size, and that he's not great defending the pass. As a result, Pauline says this Hokie linebacker is probably better suited for the safety position in the NFL and as a special teams player.

But it's also worth noting that Baaqee has the team attitude that the Colts embrace. His motto throughout high school and college was, "It doesn't matter who gets it done as long as we get it done."

Unspectacular? Absolutely. But Baaqee's is a guy you will notice for his effort if nothing else.

"He's good and solid," said Hokies coach Frank Beamer. "I like what he's all about."

If he doesn't make it with a pro team, Baaqee will turn to his second love -- producing music. He's planning to apply to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he was born and spent most of his childhood years with the hopes of learning how to be a music producer

Prior to joining the Colts, Baaqee attended the Washington Redskins minicamp at the end of April on a tryout basis.

Noteworthy from this week's workouts

WR Eric Hill moved to cornerback and DE Thomas Houchin moved to linebacker.

"You see a little thing you can work with," Tony Dungy said. "Usually, it's the other position coaches. They've seen them in a drill, or worked against them, or seen something and said, ‘This guy has something that may work.' Now's the time to try it."

RB Edgerrin James and K Mike Vanderjagt were the only players missing from the first day of voluntary workouts. James is reportedly expected to arrive this weekend. Colts QB Peyton Manning wasn't noticeably concerned by the absence of either player.

"There are only two guys, and one of them (James) is in somewhat of a contract issue," Manning said. "The other one is the best kicker in the league, so that's pretty doggone good participation."

He said he felt the great turnout this early reflected a feeling by all those players that, "This is our job and we want to win."

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