In honor of Josh Wilson's recent player profile of new Colts nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, I present to you - our loyal and reasonably sane readers - the prospect of Franklin working as the starting nose tackle in Greg Manusky's hybrid 3-4 defense.
Yes, over Josh Chapman, the anointed former Alabama tackle who hasn't played a down of NFL football despite being drafted last year.
During Colts OTAs, Franklin and Chapman have split time working with the starting defensive line. Now, it's important to note that players who are "starting" at June OTAs probably won't be doing so in September. Remember last year when Kevin Thomas was the "starting" corner in OTAs? He was then traded at the beginning of training camp. Now, he's out of the league.
What the "starting" designation does indicate is that, at the present time, these are the players the coaches feel are best suited to start if games happened right now.
The other reason Franklin and Chapman are splitting reps is because IT'S FRIGGIN' HOT OUTSIDE!!! These are 300-plus pound men we're talking about here. The goal is to get them ready for the season, not give them heat stroke. Splitting time keeps both of them healthy, especially with Brandon McKinney continuing to recover from a knee injury sustained last year.
Still, for all the assumptions that Chapman will get handed the starting nose tackle job, do not be surprised if the opening day starter is Franklin. Reasons:
- Familiarity: He has played in this system before, both under Greg Manusky when the two were in San Francisco together and in San Diego playing for Chuck Pagano's brother, John. In fact, Franklin's relationship with Manusky was a major factor in his signing with the Colts this offseason. Franklin has also worked with former 49ers tackle Ricky Jean Francois, the free agent that the Colts also signed as a free agent this year.
- Experience: Franklin is an eleven-year veteran. Chapman is, for all intents and purposes, still a rookie.
- Size: Franklin is roughly ten pounds heavier than Chapman
Again, his is not to say that Chapman stinks and will lose his presumed starting job to Franklin. It's merely to suggest that just because Chapman is healthy now doesn't mean he will be handed the gig. There is a trust level that the defensive coordinator has with Franklin that he likely is just starting to develop with Chapman.
Frankin signed a one-year deal with Indy this offseason worth $1.1 million.