Ex-Giant Bryant signs one-year deal

Updated: October 9, 2004, 5:01 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

With kicker Mike Vanderjagt uncertain for Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders because of a strained hamstring, the Indianapolis Colts added an insurance policy Friday, signing free agent Matt Bryant to a one-year deal.

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The availability of tight end Marcus Pollard also likely will be a game-time decision, coach Tony Dungy said. Pollard, bothered by a bone bruise in his left knee, was held out of practice after Wednesday.

"If he can run and be effective, he'll go. If not, he won't. He hasn't practiced all week, but we're going to wait and see," Dungy said.

One player who probably will not play Sunday is second-year cornerback Donald Strickland, who's bothered by a sore shoulder and a pulled hamstring. Rookie Jason David is expected to make his first NFL start in his place. With David going into the starting lineup, another rookie, Von Hutchins, will move into the Colts' nickel pass coverage.

Set to play Sunday are wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who missed practice time last week with a sore hip, and free safety Idrees Bashir, who missed the Jacksonville game with a strained groin.
--Associated Press

The contract is believed to be for the league-minimum base salary of $380,000 for a third-year veteran.

Colts coach Tony Dungy said Saturday that he won't decide whether to use place-kicker Mike Vanderjagt until kickoff. The kicker is expected to get a long look from Indianapolis coaches in pregame warm-ups.

"We're leaning toward being safe and kicking Matt, but it's probably something that will be a game-time decision," Dungy said after putting the Colts through a workout Saturday.

Bryant, 29, auditioned for Colts coaches and team officials on Wednesday and was said to have been very impressive. Bryant, who was in camp with the Dallas Cowboys this summer, then just waited to see if Vanderjagt's situation warranted Indianapolis signing him for this weekend.

Vanderjagt strained his right hamstring while kicking a 48-yard field goal just before halftime last Sunday in a 24-17 victory at Indianapolis. He surrendered the kickoff duties after that to punter Hunter Smith and coach Tony Dungy revealed the injury after the game, noting that Vanderjagt likely could not have attempted a field goal of beyond 35 yards.

The injury has improved during the week and Vanderjagt has received daily treatment, but it remains uncertain whether he can kick. The Colts decided not to take any chances and went to Bryant as their standby contingency plan.

The most accurate kicker in league history, in terms of field-goal conversion percentage, Vanderjagt has converted 45 of his last 46 attempts. The Colts might not make a decision on his availability until a few hours before Sunday's game.

Bryant converted 37-of-46 field-goal attempts and 47-of-49 extra points in 27 games with the New York Giants in 2002-03. The former Baylor standout appeared in all 16 games in 2002 and totaled 108 points that year. He has worked out for several teams since the Cowboys released him just before the start of the season.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.