Keeping with their desire to improve their run defense this offseason, one of the moves the Colts made was to bring in inside linebacker Nate Irving, a player whose strength is in run defense and who, though he'll be a backup for the Colts, could still help them some in that area.
Before Irving can help the Colts on the field, however, he needs to first get healthy enough to get back on the field. That hasn't been the case so far, as he's still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in November while with the Broncos, but the hope is that he'll be back in time for training camp in August.
"He's ahead of schedule as far as the rehab goes," head coach Chuck Pagano said of Irving last week. "He'll stay here the entire time and continue his rehabilitation process. The docs and the trainers are optimistic that there's a possibility that by August 1 he might be ready to get back in the fold and do some things, but it's not 100 percent. There are still some question marks surrounding him. From a competitive standpoint, we got a good football player. He's played quality downs in this league. When he does get back, he's just going to add to that."
Pagano noted that Irving will stay around during the rest of the offseason, when players normally get away and don't workout with the team, in order to rehab. The hope is that he'll be back by the time the Colts report to Anderson University for training camp on August 1, but it's no guarantee.
In his four-year career (all with the Broncos), Irving has played in 54 games (12 starts) and has recorded 104 tackles, two sacks, and two passes defensed. In 2014, he entered the season as the Broncos' starter at inside linebacker and started the first eight games there before his injury, though still managing to rack up 46 tackles and a sack. He signed with the Colts as a free agent this offseason, and while Jerrell Freeman and D'Qwell Jackson are entrenched as the starters, Irving will likely find his way into some playing time with the team. After all, Pagano had referred to the team's run defense as their "Achilles heel" earlier this offseason and the Colts have made a push to get better there, and that's exactly where Irving's strengths lie. Hopefully, he can get back on the field for the start of training camp with the Colts.