Sometimes, all you need is a chance.
He wasn't given that chance on draft day, despite many expecting otherwise. The 6-2, 310 pound nose tackle had started every game of the past two seasons for Delaware, where he excelled. He transferred from Maryland after he was ruled academically ineligible in 2011, and just two years later he was a star on the Deleware team, racking up 57 tackles (5.5 for loss), 3.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles. He had a good chance to be drafted on day three of this year's draft - but as rounds 5, 6, and 7 wound by, Kerr never heard his name called. Mr. Irrelevant came and went, and while the last pick of the draft (this year the Texans' Lonnie Ballentine) is called "Mr. Irrelevant," countless players weren't even taken - including Zach Kerr.
He didn't get a chance in the draft, but then Colts general manager Ryan Grigson came calling, and Kerr wound up signing with the Colts as one of a strong group of undrafted free agents hauled in. Fans quickly began clamoring for Kerr and praising his potential.
And yet, by the time we got to training camp, Kerr was being overshadowed. He was often running with the third team and was doing nothing to make himself stand out. There were plenty of other defensive linemen ahead of him on the roster, several of whom were guaranteed of a roster spot. Again, it appeared as if Zach Kerr would need a chance to really show his skill.
And then defensive lineman Jeris Pendleton went down in the first preseason game with a torn ACL. Another lineman, Fili Moala, had already torn his ACL in offseason work. Kerr didn't do much in the first preseason game, but now two lineman that had been ahead of him when he initially signed were done for the year. Again, all Zach Kerr needed was a chance, and he got it through injuries to other players.
When it came to the second preseason game against the New York Giants, Kerr played with the second and third team defenses and was a rare bright spot among a terrible outing from many of the backups. Kerr recorded 4 tackles in that game and a couple of quarterback pressures, standing out for the first time.
The Colts gave Kerr an increased chance in week three against the New Orleans Saints, giving him some time with the first and second teams. And while some other players struggled Saturday night, Kerr starred. He notched 5 tackles (4 solo), a sack, 3 tackles for loss, and a quarterback hit, along with some other pressures. And to celebrate after the sack, Kerr showed off some dance moves (or lack thereof, depending who you ask).
"The excitement took over," Kerr told ESPN's Mike Wells. "I had been waiting for the moment to be able to sack the quarterback. It happened and I started celebrating."
Kerr has reason to celebrate. He's been given a chance, and he's taking advantage of it in a way no one could have expected. He's leading all Colts defensive linemen in tackles this preseason and has seen his playing time increase. He was a star on Saturday night for Indianapolis, and he's playing very well. Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has a saying about players needing to make themselves "necessary," and that's certainly true of Zach Kerr. He's making himself necessary and he's playing his way on to the Colts roster, as it'd be a pretty big surprise at this point if Kerr doesn't make it. Perhaps all he needed was a chance. The Colts gave it to him, and he's been taking advantage of it.