If you remember the beginning of the season for the Indianapolis Colts, the cornerback position was among the biggest question marks solely because of the injuries at the position. Greg Toler missed the first several games, while Darius Butler also dealt with an injury. Even Vontae Davis has had a couple of injuries (a concussion and a foot issue). Jalil Brown and Sheldon Price have both been waived-injured, a couple other corners are already on injured reserve, and D'Joun Smith, who entered the season as the number four corner, was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return.
Smith was placed on the IR-DFR list with a knee injury shortly before the team's week two game against the Jets, and the loss really affected a Colts team desperately needing depth at the position. The rules for the IR-DFR list are pretty simple: the player will be able to return to practice after six weeks (or 42 days) and will be able to return to the playing field after eight weeks. For Smith, that means that he will be able to practice beginning next week (on Friday, October 30, which is 42 days after he was placed on IR-DFR), while his first game back could be against the Atlanta Falcons in week eleven (he could actually return to the field in week ten, but that's the Colts' bye week). He doesn't have to return then, but that's when he's first eligible to play - and according to head coach Chuck Pagano, it sounds like he might be ready to play in that game.
"According to our docs and trainers he's ahead of schedule," Pagano said on Wednesday. "So he's doing a great job. He's staying engaged. He's in every single meeting, he's at practice. He's a really, really bright kid obviously. He knows football and he's a football junkie. As far as the rehab goes, again our docs and trainers say he's ahead of schedule so we're hopeful that he'll be back after the bye. We can get him back on the field. That's what we're shooting for."
Drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Florida Atlantic, Smith is a player who the Colts liked a lot and who figured to be their number four corner this year as a rookie. He had a rough training camp and preseason, but he has the potential and the talent to improve upon that. There's definitely reason to like him, but he simply needs to get on the field to continue to develop. Hopefully, he'll be able to do that soon, but it's unclear where he'll slot in at on the depth chart, as the team has Vontae Davis, Greg Toler, Darius Butler, Josh Thomas, and Tony Carter at the position currently.