The Hartford Colonials have been busy with roster moves as the season approaches. With training camp starting on August 18th at Sage Park in Berlin, it would behoove Coach/General Manager Chris Palmer to make as many moves as he sees necessary in order to have his roster ready for practice.
With that said, the Colonials recently made two moves on the defensive side of the ball, as they signed DT Simi Toeaina and DE Keith Grennan. Toeaina was briefly a Jet, being recently cut from their roster as the Jets move forward with their plan of signing Marc Brunell (and before you inform me that Brunell and Simi play different positions, just rest assured that the Jets need every dime they can find in order to sign the veteran quarterback). As for Grennan, he was a practice squadder, as he played for the Browns.
With that said, it’s hard to find much on two guys whose best moments have occurred far away from the eyes of the viewing public. Thus, I turned to two Examiners who could give me some insight. Max Price (see his site here) covers Oregon Ducks football, and he offered some info on Toeaina, who is an Oregon alum:
I never envisioned Simi ever becoming an NFL prospect, and frankly I was really surprised when the Jets brought him in this off-season. He only had a handful of tackles over his career. He played in all 13 games in 2009 for the Ducks but only ended the season with 11 total tackles, so the idea that he became an NFL player probably left a lot of people dumbfounded, myself included.
That being said, though, he has the frame and build that you'd want in a defensive lineman. He's 6'4 and usually hovers around 300 pounds. By all accounts he seems like a great guy. He redshirted his first year while the Ducks tried to figure out whether he'd meet his full potential as an offensive lineman or defensive lineman. Obviously they ultimately made him into a defensive player, and it's tough to tell if that was the correct decision since he only recorded 14 tackles over his career at Oregon.
As far as him being released by the Jets, I think it was to be expected. They gave the guy a shot to make the roster and he just couldn't make the cut. He's a hard worker, though, and he could certainly provide Hartford with a strong inside presence. Sure, he was a backup over his time in Eugene, but you have to keep in mind that the Ducks were a top-15 team for a great deal of his career, so the competition for playing time at Oregon was intense.
Good points by Max, and my only guess as to why the Jets brought him in is because they need line depth (both offensive and defensive), so they probably thought that they could bring Simi in on the cheap. Maybe they even saw some O-line potential in him.
Positives: Keith Grennan is a hard-working guy who spent two years with the San Diego Chargers before signing with the Browns. In San Diego, Grennan learned technique from position coach Wayne Nunnely – a man widely considered one of the best defensive line coaches at the professional level. As an undrafted free agent, Grennan impressed the San Diego coaching staff and spent the first two years of his career with the organization.
Negatives: Grennan is still very raw as a defensive lineman. He played tackle and tight end in college, and will likely take some time not only adjusting to the defense, but the speed of the game at its highest level.
Overall: Grennan is adjusting to the game at a relatively new position with a different team. His background on offense, particularly as a tight end, should serve him well as that athleticism should ease his transition into the professionals.
While Chike wrote his piece on Grennan prior to seeing him with the Browns, I’m sure his views remain fairly static (mostly since Grennan didn’t get a chance to sway him either positively or negatively). The fact that he’s a hard worker should serve him well under the demanding Palmer.
Based on the above, sounds like the Colonials picked up two raw, but physically talented players. Both sound like hard workers, and guys who will jump at the chance to impress both the Colonials, and potential NFL suitors.
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