INDIANAPOLIS — Former Army star Josh McNary’s college football career was all about finding the shortest and most efficient route to the quarterback possible.
The path since hasn’t been so straight forward.
The second-year Indianapolis Colts linebacker served two years as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s 3rd Cavalry Regiment stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, before coming to the NFL. And even then it took an appearance at a regional combine in Dallas last spring to catch the league’s attention.
A hamstring injury during his second week in training camp slowed down McNary’s early progress and left him to open the regular season as part of the practice squad. It took eight weeks for West Point’s all-time sacks leader to get back onto the field and about nine more for him to be promoted to the active roster.
McNary made his NFL debut on Dec. 1 against Tennessee. And almost immediately was asked to move backward.
The Colts envisioned the former college defensive end as an inside linebacker, and the bulk of his playing time came in the team’s nickel package — requiring him to drop back in pass coverage for the first time in six years.
“I had a really short stint (in college) as a linebacker,” McNary said Wednesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. “My freshman year, I was backing up. My sophomore year, the first three games before we had all these injuries and I had to get moved down to the d-line, I was doing a little bit of dropping back and stuff like that. But since that point, I’ve pretty much just been a stand-up d-lineman. No real coverage responsibilities. So all that stuff is new to me, and that’s really been like the biggest challenge.”