We've been on Andrew Luck watch for the past week and that has, obviously, taken the headlines when it comes to the Colts and injuries, but the Colts also got some good injury news: cornerback Greg Toler is back. "He's up," Chuck Pagano confirmed, meaning that Toler will play Thursday night. "Good to go."
The Colts have really been missing Toler ever since he went out with a neck injury in the preseason, as opposing quarterbacks have had a lot of success against an injured Colts secondary. According to Pro Football Focus, the two players who were filling in for Toler on the outside, Jalil Brown and Darius Butler, have allowed a combined 29 receptions on 35 targets (82.9%) for 408 yards (11.7 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns without an interception for a passer rating of 143.8. That's not good. Butler has been the worst, as when opposing quarterbacks target him they have a 155.8 passer rating (perfect is 158.3), the worst among any corner in the NFL who has been targeted at least ten times.
If ever Toler's value to the team was questioned, the first four games of this year should answer those questions - they don't have anyone to replace him. The Colts' defense is at their best when Vontae Davis, Greg Toler, and Darius Butler are all healthy. That allows them to do things that they otherwise couldn't. For example, many have noted the absence of the pass rush this year, but it's no worse than last year. The only difference is that, last year, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was able to dial up a lot of different blitz schemes because he could trust his corners in man coverage. This year, he has had to adjust a bit without Toler (and, at times, without Butler). Having Greg Toler healthy makes the entire defense better because he's a fit for what they try to do and is the best option they have at the number two outside cornerback spot, without question. He's not great, but he's good enough, and the Colts will have Toler back on the field for the first time this season this Thursday night against the Texans.