The Indianapolis Colts defense is still a work in progress, and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is still shifting players around for the starting unit.
For the second preseason game, here’s what I’ll be looking for against the Baltimore Ravens.
The defense changing from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme ultimately made John Simon the odd man out in the linebacker room — speculation marked him a candidate for one of the roster cuts that are bound to occur before Week 1 hits the spectrum.
He’s proving just the opposite.
Simon accumulated 37 tackles, three sacks and a pick-six in just six games, injuring his shoulder against Jacksonville Jaguars in late October. His absence was felt, because the defense was hurting even more without him on the field.
He’s proving that he will be an important commodity for 16 games in 2018. In the first preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks tackles, the veteran put together three tackles, including 1.5 sacks, in under 10 snaps. Those stats weren’t made from his prototypical position. He’s transitioning to defensive end and he’s making a name for himself.
Colts head coach Frank Reich took notice against the Seahawks, as he has during training camp.
“When the pads get on, you have to finish plays. I think what you’ve seen with John in practice and in the preseason game that we played is that he just knows how to finish. That’s important.”
Important is right. With Tarrell Basham struggling to assert himself as the starter, despite having a lot potential, Simon needs to be on the field as much as possible. The struggles of Basham have been disappointing, to say the least, and the Colts will need him to step up his play for this defensive unit to be serviceable.
Simon’s play is even more crucial factoring in the injury to rookie Kemoko Turay. While Turay is making his way back from his knee problem, it’s starting to look at if Simon might be the best option in that spot.
For now, that starting defensive end spot, opposite of Jabaal Sheard, is in the hands of Simon, and I hope he can prove his pass-rushing abilities even further against Joe Flacco and/or Lamar Jackson.
Hookered, line, and Geathers
The Colts are ‘hoping’ Clayton Geathers will suit up against the Ravens, and the Colts fan base is hoping as well.
Geathers, 26, played in five of the Colts’ final six games last year, finishing with just eight tackles. While feeling healed from his neck injury, the talented safety decided to have minor procedure on his knee. That surgery sidelined Geathers for most of the Colts’ offseason workout programs, including the first few days of training camp.
Malik Hooker, who suffered a torn ACL a year ago, was activated for the PUP list on August 2, a great sign for the blue and white. While Hooker isn’t expected to play against the Ravens, the Colts are targeting the third preseason (against the 49ers) for the ideal return date for the former Buckeye.
Geathers and Hooker have seen their workloads gradually increase as the preseason progresses. Recently, the two have been in pads during live 11-on-11 periods, which is a great sign in its own right.
Even if it’s for a snap, seeing Hooker or Geathers on the field would be a blessing for this team moving forward.