After two weeks of what appeared to be total dysfunction from the Colts on both sides of the football, particularly from the first and second team units in the first three quarters of each game, there were finally some signs of life that should give fans some reason to believe that the team may be able to compete with the regular season just around the corner. If defensive players can contribute like players like Matthias Farley did in the first half of this game consistently, it might give fans something exciting to watch until Andrew Luck returns to the field.
John Simon uses a pure speed rush to get around the edge and force this fumble. This is the third turnover he’s played a primary role in over the first 3 preseason games. This is clearly not a pace he can keep up but he has shown an ability to be around the football and wreak havoc more than any other Colts defender to this point.
Just when I talk about Simon wreaking havoc, Matthias Farley made his biggest statement yet for a chance to either start or play a very active role in the safety rotation during the regular season. No defensive player played a bigger role in frustrating and shutting down the Steelers first and second team offensive units in this game than Farley.
When he wasn’t in the backfield or coming up to make plays against the run, Farley was defending the pass. In this case he comes up and bats down a pass intended for Steelers tight end Jesse James. This isn’t the only time he would deny James on the drive.
On the very next play, Farley lays a hard hit to separate James from the football leading to an incompletion and forcing Pittsburgh to settle for a field goal. These two plays in a row effectively stopped the drive.
Farley was not the only young member of the Colts secondary to make a strong case for a big role in the starting defense. Rookie Nate Hairston, who was considered a project pick, showed a nose for the football coming up in run support. His play against the run ought to remind fans in Indianapolis of Darius Butler. If he can continue building on a very strong and surprising training camp and preseason, he might find himself as the starting nickel corner.
This is another example of Hairston being disciplined on the edges and coming up to blow up an outside run.
Free agent acquisition Margus Hunt faced a pretty heft task of breaking through to the 53-man roster in one of the most crowded position group in Indianapolis. In many respects, he was a roster bubble candidate when training camp started. Over the last two preseason games he has started to look more comfortable in his role in the 3-4 defense. Last week he blocked a field goal and this week he used speed to split the offensive linemen and stuff a run in the backfield.
Another player who has made some major strides this training camp and preseason is Antonio Morrison. A lot of fans in Indianapolis were convinced the Morrison was not going to make the roster due to being too slow for the NFL. He has continued to make a lot of plays in the run game this preseason but his ability to quickly read and react to this pass is also encouraging.