The first three years with the Colts have been a bit topsy-turvy for offensive lineman Makoa Freitas.
Most NFL rookies spend their first season watching from the sidelines or on practice squads. And while Freitas started his first year on the practice squad, an injury to starting left tackle Tarik Glenn launched him into a starter's role for six games, providing him with real on-the-job experience right out of college.
And he performed admirably, protecting quarterback Peyton Manning and opening holes for Edgerrin James. He continued to see plenty of action in his second year, appearing in all 16 games.
The normal progression for a third year player would have been even more playing time and perhaps even challenging for a full-time starter's role. Freitas worked at both guard and tackle in the preseason, but suffered a season ending injury in the final preseason game when a Bengals defensive lineman accidentally rolled up on his foot.
There was a popping sound. Then an x-ray. And then the realization that he had torn the lisfranc ligament in the foot for the second time in his football career. His doctor told him he had never seen anyone do that twice. So while a full recovery was expected, nothing was guaranteed.
The same could be said for Freitas in regards to his future with the Colts heading into this offseason. Nothing was guaranteed.
He's had two surgeries since that day in late August that ended his 2005 season. One where the doctor had to reattach the ligament to the bone with screws, and then had to another in January when he removed the screws and assess the health of the foot. And although he's in the early stages of his rehab, Freitas is very optimistic.
"It's going really well," he said. "I saw the doctor last week and he was pleased with my progress.
"I'm going to start some slow jogging this week. I think by around the middle of May, I should be back to full speed again."
But while he was healing, he was a bit uncertain how his injury would impact the Colts' interest in bringing him back for the 2006 season.
"I was a bit nervous about it," he said. "I wasn't sure what would happen, but I've got no complaints. I'm happy with the tender."
Also muddling the situation was the increasing chasm between the league and the player's union as the deadline for contract tenders approached. And Freitas knew that wasn't going to make things any simpler for him.
"To be honest, I was just planning for the worst," he said. "So I was really happy when I opened the mail and saw the offer.
"I'm excited to still be a Colt and to be part of the organization."
Of course, the tender is only a one-way binding document until the player signs it as well. Another team could put in a better offer, and if the Colts don't match it, Freitas would move on while the Colts would get a sixth-round draft pick as compensation.
But that's not how the modest and hard-working offensive lineman from Honolulu sees it playing out.
"There's the opportunity for that to happen, but I'll be shocked if it does," he said. "I'm ready to continue to be a Colt and to keep getting ready to play."