The Indianapolis Colts released some somber news Monday afternoon, but they also passed on some great news. Naturally, the great news is pertaining to Andrew Luck beginning to throw a football and that no setbacks have come throughout his rehab.
Additionally, first-round selection Malik Hooker will be ready to go come training camp in less than a week’s time.
The bad news, however, comes to tune of Clayton Geathers – quite possibly the Colts best defender – being placed on the PUP list to start the regular season. Of course this means that Geathers can’t practice or play through the first six weeks of the regular season which is a result from the surgery he underwent in March.
While it still doesn’t exactly clear up when, or even if, we’ll see Geathers in 2017, it does begin to clear up some other questions about the position. Or does it?
With Hooker being ready as expected it’s fair to assume that he will hold down one of the starting safety roles. While the other – even if Geathers had been cleared for camp – may have gone to Darius Butler anyhow, this begins to clear up what questions we have had for the group until now.
It’s more than likely that Butler and Hooker will hold down the back end of the secondary due to their ability to play the ball in the air, which leaves the dime safety role that Geathers was likely to specialize in open for the taking. Geathers would have held the starting role in base packages, which are few and far between in the NFL anymore, and would have moved down near the box for run support and coverage in sub-packages.
Now, much maligned T.J. Green may have been given the best news he could receive as he still can’t be considered a lock to make the roster. Green will still have to earn his way, but he’ll have some competition from Mathias Farley who clearly outworked, and outplayed him throughout the off-season training sessions.
Don’t let Tyvis Powell fall into the background of your brain either, he’s got a clear past with Ed Dodds (vice president of player personnel) from their days in Seattle and he wasn’t just signed in the off-season, he was claimed off waivers – so the interest is clear.
Powell has plenty of pop, speed and ability to track the ball, but we haven’t seen much film on him since entering the league. He is on the roster non-descriptively as a defensive back rather than a safety and that certainly isn’t going to hurt him in his quest for the 53-man roster.
Green, Farley, and Powell will be fighting almost specifically for the role that Geathers was to hold, theoretically opening up another roster spot for a good portion of the season. Conversely, Butler and Hooker present a combination we haven’t seen much lately from the Colts.
Granted, Butler does like to be physical, but he is a natural free safety. Hooker fits that mold as well and this combination of ball hawking on the back end could be a lot of fun to watch as the season kicks off. As I stated before, Green has a real chance to get a very defined role within the defense with the Geathers news. He also has his work cut out for him with two guys breathing down his neck for that very same role.
The perceived improvement of the run defense up front will be pivotal in allowing this new dual free safety look to the defense to function properly. The interesting decision going forward will be to see who the coaching staff is lining up opposite either Hooker or Butler in the base sets.
I don’t see Green being the quality option in coverage pending a vast improvement through camp. However, maybe they just leave the Butler/Hooker combo back there regardless being the most talented combination, allowing them to operate with the intent of reinforcing the coverage.
Training camp cannot come soon enough.