As Colts defensive lineman Henry Anderson met with the media yesterday and talked about his rookie season and recovery from injury, there has been some talk about him over the past day. One thing that not many people have mentioned, however, is what Colts owner Jim Irsay said about him on Saturday.
It's buried in the transcripts and something that one would really only notice if reading through them (yeah, that's what I spend my time doing), but Irsay had some high praise for Anderson by way of grouping him with the team's best player in Andrew Luck.
Irsay was talking about how the Colts aren't considering themselves the team to beat in the AFC South since they didn't win last year, and he said that even though the injury excuse was valid, the reality is that injuries happen and that the Texans are the team to beat in the division. When talking about that injury issue, Irsay said this: "Yes, we had injuries and you could say oh what could've been if we didn't and you see what happened in the Denver game and unfortunately Henry Anderson and Andrew (Luck) being taken out for the season, arguably our two best players. That's tough but it's reality."
Did you catch what Irsay said, right in the middle of his explanation of the Colts' views on the team to beat? He said that Andrew Luck and Henry Anderson are arguably the Colts' two best players. There's nobody in their right mind that would argue Luck's place on that list, but it's certainly worth noting that the owner and CEO of the team considers Henry Anderson to be included there as well.
Anderson certainly was tremendous in his rookie season in 2015. He started the first nine games of the season and recorded 31 tackles, a sack, and two passes defensed, but that doesn't come close to telling the whole story. He was a major factor against the run who also did quite well against the pass too, and he was quietly playing himself into Defensive Rookie of the Year territory (though it would have been incredibly hard to take that award away from Marcus Peters, who was very deserving). He was a huge influence on the team's defense and one of their best players last year, but unfortunately he tore his ACL in week nine.
The Colts are bringing him along slowly in that recovery so as not to rush it, and that means he could miss time in training camp as well (they're not ready to set a timetable for his recovery yet, at least not publicly). Whenever he does come back, however, the Colts will be counting on him to play at the same high level that he did last year. With Anderson coming back to a group that includes Kendall Langford, David Parry, Arthur Jones, Hassan Ridgeway, Zach Kerr, and others, it's not hard to imagine a reality in which the defensive line is actually a strength for the team.
A lot of that depends on Anderson, and getting him back healthy will be a huge boost. There are plenty of other players deserving of consideration among the Colts' best (such as Vontae Davis or T.Y. Hilton), but Jim Irsay isn't hesitating to put Henry Anderson right up there - and based on the lineman's rookie season, it's well-deserved.