Rookie of the week: Malik Hooker
It’s safe to say Hooker started out on a bright note when he recorded his first career interception in his first career start. The interception itself was a representation of how he performed in college, and it was a beautiful play by both him and Quincy Wilson.
One of the biggest reasons for his jump in production was his confidence. The main reason for his boosted confidence was the coaching staff deciding to take a step in the right direction and using him as a single high safety as much as possible.
This is where Hooker is most comfortable and deadly, something the week 2 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals taught us, and hopefully the coaching staff learned the same lesson moving forward.
It wasn’t a perfect showing though, Hooker had a few miscues from a tough position, but viewing the entirety of his work from Sunday, I was impressed with his ability to eat up grass, even if that meant covering for his own mistakes.
An example of this is illustrated below:
Hooker is the single high safety here.
It’s tough to pin this on him, as Matthias Farley and Jeremiah George both bite hard on the play action and are desperately attempting to correct their mistake towards Ifeanyi Momah’s side of the field.
However, Hooker is there to clean up the mistakes of those in front of him, and after motioning Momah from right to left, two receivers clear out to the right side which leaves almost the entire field left of the hashmarks a no man’s land.
To Hooker’s credit, he realizes he’s made a mistake, even before Palmer releases the ball, covers an astounding amount of ground and performs a touchdown-saving tackle.
The drive results in no points.
Simply put: an impressive showing by Hooker.
Honorable Mention: Quincy Wilson
Wilson was more of a theme park thrill ride in his debut than his fellow defensive back.
He had times when he would be completely turned around by a receiver, and on other routes, particularly the comeback, he would stick in his man’s hip pocket and showcase that first-round talent he was so highly touted for.
An example of his prowess is exhibited here:
I’m sure you’ve seen this clip a thousand times, but is that really enough?
Wilson (at the top of your screen) gives up the inside release here, but he doesn’t care, he doesn’t panic and is close enough to his receiver to smell what he had for breakfast that morning.
If Hooker hadn’t shown up to make the play, Wilson would’ve at least had a pass break-up or a turnover himself considering the trajectory of the ball.
A facet of the game that may need some grooming over for him and Nate Hairston, may be communication.
There were often times when the Cardinals would send their man in motion, or create a ‘legal’ pick play that would cause Wilson and Hairston to get completely lost and allow the Cardinals a free runner.
This is fixable and not an issue to fret over, as it’s bound to happen with rookie starters.
My take? A promising performance from an intriguing prospect that unfortunately won’t be on the field this week.
Hairston and Tarell Basham showcased more of the same as what was mentioned last week. Both players have the physical tools but need to either build a greater awareness of their surroundings (Hairston) or develop counter-moves that’ll make them a productive member of the defense (Basham).
Marlon Mack had a rough day finding daylight. It seemed he would find the right holes only to find out they were really a farce, as the offensive line would allow a defender to fly through and stop him for no gain or worse.
Unfortunately it looks like Mack is also out for week 3 and he won’t get to bounce back from a disappointing performance. Silver lining — Matt Jones will get to prove his worth on the field.
A player I was pleasantly surprised with was Deyshawn Bond. Bond was a representation of the Colts offensive line as a whole. He held his own against the pass; picking up stunts smoothly, spotting on-coming blitzers before it was too late, and stone walling defenders that got stuck in his cross hairs.
However, against the run there was a lot left to be desired.
Also, an underrated quality we’re forgetting about an undrafted free agent, starting at center, is the fact that he hasn’t had a botched snap yet. Hopefully I didn’t jinx it, because Bond is proving to at least be a competent backup until Kelly is healthy to go again.
As a group, the rookies gave the Indianapolis fan base hope this week even amidst a loss that contributed to an 0-2 start.
I expect to see more of the same in the next 15 weeks of the year.