When camp opened, these were the defensive players needed to show something. Now with training camp closed for the 2013 season, we think that the players struggled to show anything of value, or failed to be consistent out on the practice field:
Bjoern Werner, OLB
It's really weird to have Werner listed here now because, when we wrote our first article in this series noting defensive players who looked good, Werner was tops on that list. Between then and now, Werner has sustained a knee injury that, based on our observations, has slowed him down. He doesn't look explosive, and he's getting off the snap too low. This is allowing offensive linemen to control him.
What is especially annoying about Werner's injury is that the Colts themselves don't seem to know how severe it is. Werner was not listed as a scratch in Indy's first preseason game. Yet, he did not play a single down.
If he wasn't scratched, he should have played. He's a rookie. He needs reps. BADLY.
If he was to hurt to play, then scratch him. That they didn't do this suggests something happened to Werner's knee either the day of or right before last Sunday's game.
As Andrew Mishler noted, the Colts pass rush hasn't looked very good both in preseason thus far and in training camp. Without a pass rush, the Colts might as well not even punt the ball. No pass rush = no chance in the modern NFL.
It is critical that Werner heal up quick and start showcasing some serious pass rushing ability. If he doesn't, head coach Chuck Pagano and G.M. Ryan Grigson will likely get even more heat from their impatient owner. It was these two men that reportedly pushed Dwight Freeney out the door. Despite Freeney having only 5 sacks in 2012, he had more QB pressures and hurries than any other pass rusher on the team.
LaRon Landry, S
Like Werner, LaRon Landry has been slowed by a knee injury that we don't have full and complete details on. For a guy who skipped all of the Colts OTAs, it was pretty critical that he participate in pretty much all of the practices in training camp as he gets to know his new team.
That didn't happen. In fact, Landry only took part in a handful of practices, and looked inconsistent on the field.
Landry also did not play in the preseason opener, and he looks to be a scratch from the second game, which is Sunday against the NY Giants.
So, this means that Landry will have skipped every single OTA session, missed most of the practices of training camp, and half of the preseason. Not good for a guy who hasn't exactly looked spectacular when he has been on the field.
Erik Walden, OLB
Walden was practically invisible during much of camp. To emphasize just how little the team thinks of his pass rushing abilities, our writers noted how Walden rarely participated in one-on-one pass rushing drills.
That's right, folks. A $16 million outside linebacker in a 3-4 (who is making an estimated $3 mill this season) who can't rush the passer at all. Hell, the Colts aren't even TRYING to improve him as a pass rusher. It really is sad.
Adding to the Walden frustration is the fact that he took 93 as his number for the Colts. Yes, I know he wore the same number in Green Bay, but if you're going to be ballsy enough to wear 93 in Indy, you better showcase some pass rush ability. That's no different than if Lanear Sampson wearing No. 88, and then proceeding to drop balls and run sloppy routes, as he did last Sunday against the Bills.
We paid extra attention to Walden in camp. In daily calls with the guys, I'd ask how he looked. I don't recall a single "Walden looked good today" report. Obviously, it's hard to evaluate run stoppers in camp, but Walden is an outside backer. He does more than stop the run. He covers and he rushes the passer, as he tried to do last Sunday, and was single-blocked the entire time, rarely sniffing the opposing QB. That the team isn't even trying to improve him as a rusher is discouraging, and even more frustrating is his seemingly "blah" play at camp.