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Colts 2015 Player Preview: Outside Linebacker Bjoern Werner

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The Indianapolis Colts will report to training camp on August 1 with a 90-man roster, and we'll be taking a look at every single player on the roster (though it obviously will change some) as we approach camp. Today, we look at outside linebacker Bjoern Werner.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 offseason was a terrible one for the Indianapolis Colts, as this offseason has continued to show.  The Colts parted ways with safety LaRon Landry, right tackle Gosder Cherilus, and defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois this offseason, all of whom were notable free agent additions in 2013 (and not to mention parting ways with running back Trent Richardson, who was acquired shortly after the beginning of the 2013 season).  One of the biggest moves that the Colts made that offseason, however, was with their first round pick, and they drafted outside linebacker Bjoern Werner out of Florida State.  Simply put, that move has fit right in with the rest of the moves that Ryan Grigson made in 2013.

So far, Werner hasn't lived up to expectations during his two years with the Colts, and it honestly hasn't been that close either.  He has played in 28 games (16 starts) and has recorded 68 tackles, 6.5 sacks, five passes defensed, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.  Drafted to be a pass rusher, however, Werner managed just 2.5 sacks in his rookie season and just four sacks in 2014 (which all came within a three-week span).  In a season in which the Colts massively struggled to get after the quarterback, the hope was that Werner would be able to help.  Instead, his pass rush was largely ineffective, and he was outplayed by a fifth-round rookie (Jonathan Newsome) and a run defender (Erik Walden) when it came to the pass rush.  It got to the point where, for the AFC Championship game, Werner was inactive.  The Colts said it was in order to let him rest up and get healthy, but underlying that reason was the clear understanding that Werner simply hadn't been producing.  Werner told the Indianapolis Star this offseason that he really hasn't been healthy during his time in the league but that if he can stay injury-free, he can be a "baller."

If there's good news when it comes to Bjoern Werner, it's that his run defense has actually been better than expected.  He has done a solid job in that area and showed improvement in 2014 from his rookie season, so while his pass rush has been entirely ineffective, he has been able to help somewhat in run defense.  So there is reason to hope that, if he stays healthy, and with the return of Robert Mathis and the addition of Trent Cole, that perhaps Werner could move away from the rush linebacker spot and utilize the run defense skills a bit more.  But the reality still is this: the Colts drafted Bjoern Werner to be a pass rusher, and not even the positives that he has shown in run defense can outweigh the failures that he has had in the area of getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  He will likely make the 53-man roster out of training camp, but I think that Werner is approaching a crucial time during his tenure with the Colts.  The team showed a willingness to part with other acquisitions from 2013 who were mistakes this offseason, and while Werner will likely get a bit more time than them considering he was their first round draft pick, he will need to start producing very soon if he wants to stick around in Indianapolis much longer past 2015.