Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson smiled before he said the words.

He knew what his intriguing alliteration meant for when the team opens training camp at Anderson University next summer.

“We have a lot of capable players, but just like coach (Chuck Pagano) and I (have said) from day one, we want to create a cauldron of competition,” Grigson said Friday night after the Colts selected offensive guard Hugh Thornton in the third round of the NFL draft.

Not that any Colts player needed a reminder, Pagano also punctuated the point.

“Like Ryan said,” the coach reiterated a few minutes later, “iron sharpens iron like man sharpens man.”

Lest anyone forget, the man who beat leukemia last year is a fighter. And he expects to have more fighters with him when he next takes the field.

The Colts were an inspiring 11-5 playoff qualifier a year ago, but they lacked depth. They plugged holes as best they could, withstood injuries and overcame shortcomings to win nine more games than the year before. Then the captivating ride ended with a first-round playoff loss at Baltimore.

The next step means more guys will have to earn their starting spots. And nowhere does that seem more evident now than on the offensive line, where the Colts added the 6-3, 320-pound Thornton to a group that already welcomed free-agent right tackle Gosder Cherilus and left guard Donald Thomas.

Joe Reitz has started at LG in the past and he signed his restricted free-agent tender to play in his hometown for at least one more season. RG Mike McGlynn started last year, but he undoubtedly took notice of the latest Colts draft choice.

An O-line that allowed QB Andrew Luck to be sacked 41 times last season must improve. And it goes beyond just pass protection. It also entails creating holes for a stronger running game to take some of that heat off Luck, who set an NFL rookie record with 4,374 yards passing.