After spending two years in Detroit and becoming an unrestricted free agent for the second time in his career, DeMulling was thrilled to hear that the Colts wanted him to visit Indianapolis to talk about the possibility of returning to the place where his NFL career had started. And at the end of that visit this week, he left Indianapolis with his signature on a new contract that will reunite him with some of his old teammates, like veteran center Jeff Saturday, offensive tackle Tarik Glenn and quarterback Peyton Manning.
"When my agent told me that they were interested, I was like, 'I really don't care what it's for, I just really want to go back there,' " DeMulling said during an interview early Friday evening. "I was pretty excited when they made the offer to me. I know their system pretty well, I know the guys, and they've got a great offensive line right now."
A seventh-round pick in the 2001 NFL Draft out of the University of Idaho, DeMulling only spent one year as a reserve in the Colts' system. Under the tutelage of offensive line coach Howard Mudd, the rookie refined his skills and earned a starter's role that he didn't relinquish for the next three seasons. In 2004, DeMulling was a key player on an offensive line that allowed the least number of sacks (14) in the NFL that season and that provided outstanding run-blocking that helped running back Edgerrin James break the 100-yard threshold eight times.
|Rick DeMulling at left guard between center Jeff Saturday and left tackle Tarik Glenn in 2004. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)|
The 6-foot-4, 304-pound lineman was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the highly-respected offensive line coach once again.
"I strongly believe that he made me the player I was when I was in Indianapolis. I know I've struggled for the last two years, but with his help I'm very willing to work at it and get it back," DeMulling said. "So I'm extremely excited about working with him again, as well as the other guys. It helps to be with the guys that you know and trust and are comfortable with."
After starting in all but three games during the 2005 season in Detroit, he found himself in a reserve role this past year. But while he saw extensive action in 14 contests at both guard positions and even started seven times as injuries hit the offensive line, DeMulling knew that things weren't quite the same for him in Detroit as they had been for him in Indianapolis.
"Personally, it's been kind of difficult in Detroit because I wasn't playing to what I feel was
my ability. And I feel like I kind of let myself down and kind of let the Lions
down," he said. "It's one of those things where I don't know if I fit that well there, but
I greatly appreciate the opportunity they gave me."
The Colts recently re-signed starting left guard Ryan Lilja, a restricted free agent, but still don't have resolution on the restricted free agency of right guard, Jake Scott. Indianapolis tendered him at a level that would cost another team a second-round draft pick if the Colts refused to match an offer. And it might not be out of the question that another team would be willing to consider that compensation for a proven lineman of his caliber. They also have reserve Dylan Gandy who is entering his third season and who played very well in Lilja's absence this past season while he struggled with a knee injury. So where does DeMulling fit in on the Colts' depth chart?
"I haven't really talked alot about that yet. My mindset is to go in and become a better player, and if
I do have the opportunity to start I'll be excited to do that," he said.
"But if not, I won't say that I'll be extremely happy to be a backup, but I'm willing to be a
backup for the interim period to help the team as much as I can, because I do believe these guys can do it
(win a Super Bowl) again.
"It is very much a high for me to know that I have a chance to be in the playoffs and a chance to win a Super Bowl. I don't think there's a better opportunity anywhere else in the league."
And as for the Lions?
"I strongly feel they're going to do great in the next few years with Rod Marinelli at the helm," DeMulling said. "But I approached this offseason wanting to get my foot in the door somewhere where I was comfortable and happy to be playing football again. Indianapolis was able to give me an opportunity, and I've been really thankful."
Scout.com subscribers can listen to the rest of the interview with Rick DeMulling as he talks about what he brings to the Colts' offensive line, meeting up with some old teammates this week, and as he sends a special message to Colts fans:
|A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews and features have been published across the Scout.com network and syndicated through FoxSports.com's NFL team pages.|