Sunday was a great day for the Indianapolis Colts, as they played their best game of the season and notched their first non-AFC South victory of the year, defeating the previously unbeaten Denver Broncos and their number one overall defense 27-24.
The one negative from the game was injuries, and the most notable injury was to one of the defensive players the Colts could least afford to lose. Starting defensive end Henry Anderson left the game with what Chuck Pagano described as a "significant" knee injury, and the head coach didn't sound too optimistic during his press conference.
According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Henry Anderson suffered a torn ACL, an injury that will end his very promising rookie season. The Colts have placed Anderson on season-ending injured reserve.
#Colts promising DE Henry Anderson is believed to have torn his ACL, based on initial tests. MRI to confirm coming. His play has been huge— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 9, 2015
Anderson was injured during Sunday's win over the Broncos and had to be helped off the field by trainers, who then helped him head straight to the locker room. He had trouble putting weight on his leg, and he stayed in the locker room for the rest of the game. That, combined with Pagano's lack of optimism at the press conference, led many to fear a season-ending injury, and it sounds like that is indeed the case.
Anderson was selected by the Colts in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Stanford, a move considered by many to be one of the biggest steals of the draft. Anderson was expected to make a significant contribution in his rookie season as a rotational player, but once Arthur Jones went out for the season with an injury during preseason, Anderson was thrust into the starting lineup. He quickly quieted fears about the defense playing without Jones, as he started the first nine games of the season and played very well doing so. He recorded 31 tackles, a sack, and two passes defensed, but his primary impact came in the run game, where he was a huge improvement for Indy and was one of the best run defenders along the defensive line in the NFL. Without a doubt, he was playing himself into the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year, though it's hard for a defensive lineman to win it and Anderson likely would have faced an uphill battle. Either way, that's the level of play that he was at, and he has been one of the most important pieces on the defensive side of the football for the team this year.
Now, the Colts will need to find someone who can step in and replace Anderson (who was replacing Jones). Billy Winn has played well for the Colts in a situational role this year, while T.Y. McGill and Zach Kerr both present options as well. It will likely be more of a rotation than it was before, and the Colts will count on a combination of those guys to try to fill in for Anderson. The Colts will have a bye week to figure things out, which is the slight positive in all of this. It also puts more pressure on Kendall Langford and David Parry, the other two starters on the defensive line who have been playing well, to continue to produce.