The Indianapolis Colts waived suspended tight end Weslye Saunders on Thursday and filled his roster spot with rugby standout Daniel Adongo.
Saunders’ release comes after last week’s announcement that the NFL had suspended him for the first eight games of the regular season for a second violation of its performance-enhancing drugs policy.
The 6-5, 270-pound Saunders played in 11 games last season. He had two catches.
The departure of Saunders leaves the Colts with four tight ends: starters Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, Dominique Jones and rookie Justice Cunningham. Considering how often the team uses two-tight end formations, they might add another player at the position during training camp, which opens Saturday in Anderson.
The addition of Adongo is all about potential. He’s a 6-5, 257-pound outside linebacker prospect who most recently was with the Southern Kings of Super 15 Rugby, the world’s highest level of pro rugby.
“He is not only an elite athlete and rising international rugby player, but he is an exceptional competitor and human being that has the right makeup for our sport,” Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement released by the team. “We all look forward to watching his growth and development in the ensuing weeks.”
Adongo joins a loaded outside linebacker mix. It includes projected starters Robert Mathis and Erik Walden, first-round draft pick Bjoern Werner, Lawrence Sidbury, Monte Simmons, Justin Hickman, Quinton Spears and Caesar Rayford.
The Colts generally carried only four outside linebackers on their active roster last season. Adongo’s development might include a stint on the practice squad this season.
Adongo, a 23-year old Kenyan national, is a 2006 graduate of Strathmore High School in Nairobi who attended the University of South Africa the following year. His rugby resume includes playing in the 2012 Varsity Cup for the University of Pretoria Tuks, the Vodacom Blue Bulls and the New Zealand ITM Cup team Counties Manukau.