The revolving door at nose tackle last year for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky must have been maddening.
In August, he had veteran Brandon McKinney poised to fill the starting role with promising rookie Josh Chapman slotted as his back-up. By November, both McKinney and Chapman were on IR, with neither one having played a down of football in either preseason or the regular season. As a result, the Colts run defense surrendered 2,200 yards and 5-yards-a-carry to opposing backs.
It was as if Larry Coyer or Ron Meeks had never left.
This year, unlike how Bill Polian used to neglect the position, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson became pro-active in finding Manusky a quality crop of nose tackles to help anchor his hybrid 3-4 front. He signed free agent Aubrayo Franklin (who played under Manusky in San Francisco) and drafted behemoth tackle Montori Hughes out of Tennessee-Martin.
However, just because Franklin and Hughes are on the roster doesn't mean that the team has forgotten about Brandon McKinney, who was signed as a free agent last year for two years, $2 million. Since missing virtually all of the 2012 season with a knee injury suffered during training camp, McKinney has worked to get himself back on the practice field.
During the Colts mandatory minicamp this week, he finally accomplished that.
NT Brandon McKinney practicing today for the Colts.— Tom James (@TribStarTJames) June 11, 2013
Also practicing was Josh Chapman, who has been taking snaps with the first unit throughout OTAs. During minicamp, as reporting by Mike Chappell, it was Aubrayo Franklin who took the bulk of snaps at NT with the first unit. This shouldn't be surprising. Franklin is a veteran who is comfortable with Manusky's scheme.
Going forward, a position that has consistently been a MASSIVE weakness for the Colts is now one of the deepest on the team. Franklin, McKinney, Chapman, Hughes, and Martin Tevaseu can all start and hold down the area that is often called "the pinpoint" of a 3-4 front.