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Colts will turn to Edwin Jackson, Antonio Morrison to fill void at inside linebacker

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

All season long the inside linebacker position for the Indianapolis Colts has been a big weakness, and now with D’Qwell Jackson suspended for the next four games it has the potential to be an even bigger question mark.

Edwin Jackson will likely keep starting at one of the spots, and then at the other one the Colts have options. And based on Chuck Pagano’s comments today, it sounds as if it will be Antonio Morrison taking the other spot.

“Antonio Morrison has to step up. Everybody’s got to step up,” Pagano said when asked how they will replace Jackson. “When you lose anybody, regardless of the circumstances, everybody’s game’s got to be elevated: Antonio, Edwin Jackson, Josh McNary, Deon King.”

Regarding what the team has seen from Morrison, Pagano said, “Really he’s played a significant role for us on special teams, and that’s it. We’ve got a small sample size, [he] got some significant snaps last week, got on the field there late in the game, made some plays. Antonio’s tough, he’s smart, he knows the defense inside and out, he’s a downhill, tackle-to-tackle, sideline-to-sideline, run-and-hit guy. He’ll do a great job.”

One of the aspects of replacing Jackson that is also very significant is the fact that Jackson calls the defense on the field, serving as the quarterback of the defense, so to speak. In that role, Pagano said that it’ll be Edwin Jackson and Antonio Morrison stepping up.

“Well [D’Qwell Jackson] hasn’t played every snap, and last week we had a package where 53 [Edwin Jackson] was the one linebacker in the game, so he called the defense,” Pagano said. “So 44 [Antonio Morrison], 53 [Edwin Jackson] will now assume those roles.”

It’s a huge spot for Morrison, who has seen his snaps really drop off in recent weeks. He’s had some rookie struggles this year, but at this point the Colts don’t really have many options. Edwin Jackson is a second-year guy, while Morrison is a rookie - that’s not exactly a great group at inside linebacker, but with D’Qwell Jackson’s suspension they don’t have a choice. Edwin Jackson and Antonio Morrison simply must step up in this crucial stretch of the season for the Colts.