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INDIANAPOLIS – Familiarity from August joint practices has the Colts trying to improve a struggling position.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Colts signed DT-Trevon Coley off of the Ravens practice squad. To make room from Coley, who must be on the 53-man roster for at least 3 weeks, the Colts waived DT-Jihad Ward.
The 6-1, 310-pound Coley comes to Indianapolis after starting 29 career games. Coley was originally a 2016 undrafted free agent of the Ravens, but all of his playing time has been with the Browns. For his career, Coley has 80 career tackles (11 for loss) and 2.5 sacks.
Back in August, the Colts saw Coley and the Browns up close for two days of joint practices at Grand Park, and then again in the Week Two preseason matchup, in which Coley had a couple of tackles against Indianapolis.
At 310 pounds, Coley brings more beef than the outgoing Ward (287 pounds). The Colts entered 2019 with one of the thinnest defensive tackle groups in the league, and elected to stray away from notable moves there this offseason.
Back in the spring, the Colts reiterated that they “felt good” about the personnel at defensive tackle, even if they lacked many wide bodies.
We’ve already seen returning starter DT-Margus Hunt benched, in place of Grover Stewart, who is the only other 300-pound plus defensive lineman on the roster (besides Coley).
The Colts currently rank 31st in run defense, with a franchise worse start to the season, allowing 5.47 yards per carry through the first four games.
Coley, 25, enters a defensive tackle group that has healthy bodies in Denico Autry, Grover Stewart and Margus Hunt. Second-year DT-Tyquan Lewis was inactive with an ankle injury this past Sunday.
What else did we learn on Tuesday?
- Jacoby Brissett will be in the ear of Justin Houston this week, with the Kansas City Chiefs as the opponent. Now, KC has totally changed their defensive scheme and coordinator, but some key personnel remains. “(Houston) definitely knows the players and the mindset of the team,” Brissett says of the guy who was in Kansas City from 2011-18. “He knows the culture of that organization, so just trying to get as much as I can from him.”
- Like everyone who watches Patrick Mahomes, Jacoby Brissett’s admits that he watches a bit in awe of some things the Kansas City quarterback can do: “It’s kind of cool to see some of the stuff that he does. Hopefully he doesn’t do that this week, but the things he can do with the ball is very impressive. You just watch and go, ‘Yeah, I can’t do that.’”
- Eric Ebron spent some of his Tuesday morning getting extra work in on the jugs machine. Ebron said he didn’t have his best week of practice last week and it lingered into the game. “Just stop thinking too much,” is Ebron’s main focus for Sunday.
- When asked about the balance in trying to be a more ball control team on Sunday against the high-powered Chiefs, offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni wouldn’t go there. “Our game has never been to try and hold the ball, or it’s not to be ultra-aggressive, it’s to play the game the way we think we need to play to win the football game and the way we think about that first is how are we going to beat their defense,” Sirianni said. Well, when you look at the best way to beat the Chiefs, isn’t that pounding the ball and playing a bit of keep away? Putting the ‘keep away’ aspect of things to the side, the Chiefs defense has been absolutely terrible in stopping the run this year. That should be music to the ears of the Colts trying to pull off the upset.
- On Sunday, Zach Pascal was probably the most productive skill player for the Colts. He had some critical catches (4 grabs for 72 yards) as his receiving role has expanded in recent weeks. After not being targeted in the first two games of the season, despite playing 54 snaps, Pascal has 6 catches in 10 targets over the last two weeks. “Zach is just the type of football player that you feel you can’t keep him off the field. And it feels like he’s very consistent,” offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said on Tuesday. “That’s very intriguing to a coach, the consistency of the way Zach plays, not only in the run game, but in the pass game. Yes, we do want to get him the ball because he’s consistent and he does his job. What’s great about him is he is blocking his butt off and then he can be rewarded with passes, and it doesn’t give the defense a tell of, ‘Hey, they are doing this when 14 is here.’ Because he is effective and efficient in the pass game.”
- You could make the argument that Jabaal Sheard was the Colts’ best player on Sunday, which is amazing considering he was making his 2019 debut after missing two months. Sheard said on Tuesday he was just ‘hoping’ to play against the Raiders and had no expectations on playing time. “We were going to put him in there and see how he felt in the game. We thought he did really well,” Matt Eberflus said. “We thought he played the run really well. He’s a really good left end for us. He has good hands and plays with good technique. You saw him make some plays in there.”
- In the Oakland game, it looked like we saw our first ‘benching’ of the 2019 season. Grover Stewart (40 snaps) took over as the starting nose tackle, in place of Margus Hunt (21 snaps). Stewart is the heaviest player on the Colts’ defensive roster at 315 pounds, as mentioned above. “Grover has done a solid job this year in terms of playing nose or three-technique,” Matt Eberflus said on Tuesday. “He’s earned that role here in the first three games and that’s why we played him more in that fourth game.”
- With Clayton Geathers in concussion protocol, the Colts will look at Quincy Wilson playing more safety this week. Now, Matt Eberflus wasn’t clear as to if that will be as a reserve, or a possible starter, alongside Khari Willis. On the depth chart, George Odum (who started 2 games last year) is next up at safety. “We are going to look at Quincy there to see where he is,” Eberflus said. “He’s played multiple spots for us. He’s played in the dime package over certain guys and played in our pressure packages several times. We are going to look at him there. He’s been working all day and we are going to meet with him (later). He’s certainly an option.”
- The task for Eberflus and his defense will be immense this week. Even with Tyreek Hill injured and having caught two balls this season, the Chiefs are still tied for first in points scored per game. “It’s a very unique scheme to the NFL and they got the skillset that’s unmatched in the NFL,” Eberflus says. “Their speed is on display and they use space to create for those players and get the ball in space to those players…It’s going to be a heck of a challenge for our defense.”
- For the second day in a row, the Colts made a notable move on their practice squad. They signed WR-Marcus Johnson to their practice squad. Remember, the Colts are watching the injuries to WR-T.Y. Hilton (quad) and even WR-Parris Campbell (abdominal) this week, although Campbell did finish Sunday’s game. Johnson was with the team in 2018 and this past offseason. He suffered a concussion late in the season and waived/injured. Johnson has history with Frank Reich and he caught 6 passes for 102 yards and a TD last year before his season ended due to an ankle injury in mid-October.
- The Colts will return to practice on Wednesday, getting back to their weekly on-field routine before Sunday’s night contest in Kansas City.