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Who played on the Colts D?

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We have a decent idea from the depth chart and memory, but when I first looked at Pro Football Focus' counts of the snaps played by each Colt there were some surprises.

Defensive line:

Of the two players to get the most snaps on the defensive line, neither started over half the season. Raheem Brock, saw more snaps than any player on the DL with 936 of the Colts 1,328 defensive snaps. While officially Ryan Lilja is the only starter the Colts don't return, Raheem Brock took starter-type snaps. The other non-starter who was consistently on the field was Eric Foster. Foster started 5 of 19 games, but played 636 snaps at DT (2nd only to Dan Muir) along with just under 200 at defensive end for a total of 835.

Checking in at 3rd through 6th are the DL "starters". Robert Mathis (734) and Dwight Freeney (709) both check in a bit above 50% of the defensive snaps in injury marred, but still Pro Bowl caliber seasons. At DT we have starters who played less than or barely above half the defensive snaps. Muir totaled less than 100 snaps for the Colts in 2008 with a season high of 24. This past year he totaled 685 and played 25 or more snaps every game from week 7 through the Super Bowl. Mookie totaled 555 snaps, a slight uptick from the per game rate as when he was picked up mid last season (244 in 9 weeks).

Bit players on the DL, Dawson was the only other player to get at least 25% of the teams snaps, playing 339 snaps. Fili Moala saw 187 snaps with none before week 7 and none in the playoffs. 88 of those coming in weeks 16 and 17. While a number of the Colts 2nd round picks don't contribute early, but go onto success, and Fili did seem to carve out some PT in the middle section of the season, he was largely a non factor this year.

Rounding out the DL snaps, Ed Johnson got 139 before he was sent packing again. John Gill was a big time contributor in weeks 16 and 17 with all of his 71 snaps coming in those two games. Ervin Baldwin played 96, mostly in weeks 16/17. Josh Thomas was back again for 44 snaps in weeks 9 and 12 (interestingly enough both against the Texans). Finally Phil Wheeler took 13 snaps at DE last year when DE got desperately thin.


Much less of a hodgepodge here, with two of the Colts five 1,000 snap defenders. Despite missing two games Gary Brackett totaled 1,064 snaps, mostly by playing every down in 12 of the remaining 17 games. Clint Session racked up 1,007 snaps, sitting out weeks 16 and 17 completely and seeing limited snaps against pass heavy teams like the Cardinals (12 of 74) and Seahawks (35 of 75). At the SAM Tyjuan Hagler saw 232 snaps over the first 8 weeks before going down to injury, where Phil Wheeler took up the slack playing 476 downs at LB.

Ramon Humber, 149 snaps, was the fixture LB of weeks 16 and 17 missing only 4 snaps at WILL in those games combined. Interestingly though, in his 3 appearances before he played a different LB spot each time. 3 at SAM in week 5, 9 at MIKE in week 7 and 10 at WILL in week 13. That versatility could be a big point in his favor when the roster starts to cut down. 79 snaps from Jordan Senn, 26 for Cody Glenn and Freddie Keiaho picked up all but a handful of Gary Brackett's missing snaps, plus 21 at his old position of WILL for a total of 254.

Defensive Back:

For all the injuries at CB the Colts used surprisingly few players here (probably thanks to Francisco and Silva being competent dimebacks in a pinch). Only 6 CBs played in the Colts D last year, with just 4 playing more than 150 snaps. Jacob Lacey was the UDFA steal, winning a position quickly and managing to stay healthy long enough to take 1,005 snaps. The other rookie, Jerraud Powers played 874 defensive downs, while the supposed #1 corner Kelvin Hayden struggled with a nagging hamstring injury in the first year of his new deal, playing 680 snaps. Whipping boy Tim Jennings played an excruciating 580 snaps, with Marlin Jackson playing 147 and T.J. Rushing chipping in 23 snaps in bits and pieces all year.

At safety we have the iron man of the Colts D. Antoine Bethea played 1,237 snaps last season, playing every down of 15 of 19 games with the 4 remaining the Rams and Seahawks blowouts, along with weeks 16 and 17. Antoine Bethea played every meaningful defensive snap for the Colts last year. Very happy that the Colts are hammering out an extension with him. In a secondary that was crippled by injury, Bethea was the rock. Melvin Bullitt rounds out the 1,000 snap club with 1,081. Chipping in at DB were Francisco with 163, Silva with 113, Sanders with 75 in the two games he played before injuring his biceps, and DeVon Hall appearing twice on the D, both times in week 11.

Player Position Snaps
Antonie Bethea FS 1,237
Melvin Bullitt SS 1,081
Gary Brackett MLB 1,064
Clint Session WILL 1,007
Jacob Lacey CB 1,005
75% of defensive snaps (996)
Raheem Brock DE/DT 936
Jerraud Powers DT/DE 874
Eric Foster DT/DE 835
Robert Mathis LE 734
Dwight Freeney RE 709
Daniel Muir DT 685
Kelvin Hayden CB 680
50% of defensive snaps (664)
Tim Jennings CB 580
Antonio Johnson DT 555
Phil Wheeler SAM 489
Keyunta Dawson DE 339
25% of defensive snaps (332)
Freddie Keiaho LB 254
Tyjuan Hagler SAM 234
Fili Moala DT 187
Aaron Francisco S 163
Marlin Jackson CB 147
Ed Johnson DT 139
10% of defensive snaps (133)
Jamie Silva SS 113
Ervin Baldwin DE 96
Jordan Senn LB 79
Bob Sanders S 75
John Gill DT 71
Josh Thomas DE 44
Cody Glenn LB 26
T.J. Rushing CB 23
DeVon Hall S 2