Coming out of the 2018 spring training program, there are early indications of progress and setbacks at numerous positions for the Indianapolis Colts. During the summer break period of the off-season, we will take a look at each position on the Colts roster as compared to where it was at this time a year ago and try to project how the roster will look in September.
We finish up the defensive side of the ball at a position where Indianapolis has more starters than it can put on the field on most downs. Question-marks will hang over Clayton Geathers and Malik Hooker until they can return to the field healthy but if they do get healthy, they will join Matthias Farley as part of one of the deepest safety groups in the NFL.
Health is the Question
Two seasons ago, Clayton Geathers was arguably the best defensive player to take the field for the Colts. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury to his neck that required surgery. Historically, there are players who have returned to the field and played at a high level for multiple seasons after such a surgery. There are also players who never fully recovered and whose careers were cut short.
The good news for Colts fans is that Geathers did make his return to the field in 2017. The only question now is if he can sustain it through training camp and preseason.
Chris Ballard’s first draft pick as general manager, Malik Hooker, will also have to recover from a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. Some players come back and get right back on track in their careers. Most players take at least a full season to get back to where they started. Another group inevitably ends up tearing the ACL in their other leg after surgery.
The good news for Colts fans is that there have already been videos showing Hooker back to work on his lateral agility. He certainly isn’t putting the kind of strain on his knee that he would at game speed during the regular season but it is a positive that he can already put stress on the joint with months before the regular season. The other good news is that Hooker looked the part of a legitimate center fielder before his injury.
How will these players look when they get back on the field? How much time will Hooker have to miss before he gets a full work load? Will Geathers get back to his old self?
Matthias Farley is Underrated
While there are certainly reasons to place Hooker and Geathers ahead of Farley on the depth chart, there are very few teams with the luxury of a player as talented as Farley coming off of the bench at the safety position. I have zero issues or concerns with the safety position if Farley has to start.
There were defensive series last season that Farley single-handedly dominated. He will certainly be a special teams star if he isn’t needed to take first team reps. He is also a balanced safety who has the toughness and instincts to come up against the run and the range to make players over the top.
Question-Marks Pop Up After this Group
Behind the three starting caliber options there is a whole lot of unknown. What is known about T.J. Green is that he is fast and the he arguably could be better suited in a zone coverage scheme than he is in man coverage. It is also known that he plays out of control, lays devastating hits on his own teammates, and could be the player most likely to be ejected from a game for leading with his helmet under the league’s new tackling rules.
Ballard will give Green one more chance to put it all together in training camp but don’t be surprised if he moves on to another option.
Little is known about George Odum, Chris Cooper, and Ronald Martin. The biggest winner from in OTAs and Minicamp was Odum, who some believe has a legitimate chance to stick on the roster. He came away with numerous interceptions and made big plays on the ball, including a fumble recovery in the end zone.
Few teams in the NFL don’t have question-marks four players deep at the safety position. Most have question-marks three players deep. Some have questions surrounding their starters.
When healthy, the Colts will have one of the strongest groups in the league.