It’s fair to say at this point that 2019 is not the year of the offensive rookie in Indianapolis. Parris Campbell is the only offensive draft pick on the roster and he has missed some time this season due to injury — including missing a significant portion of training camp.
Campbell returned to the field for 8 of 64 offensive snaps but was targeted only once and didn’t register a catch. Fans will have to hope that the coaching staff kept Campbell limited due to game script and allowed him to rest his abdominal.
Ashton Dulin is one of a handful of offensive undrafted free agents the Colts signed after the 2019 NFL Draft. He flashed potential in training camp but failed to make the opening day roster. He and Hale Hentges were the most promising offensive rookies in camp outside of Campbell.
Dulin was active on Sunday and took 4 of 64 offensive snaps but received no targets. He did contribute with a special teams tackle.
The Colts backfield committee continues to be dominated by Marlon Mack. However, Nyheim Hines is the primary rotational back who comes in on third down situations or the two minute offense. He took 18 of 64 offensive snaps, rushed 4 times for 12 yards and finished second on the team with 3 receptions for 34 yards.
A bit of a forgotten man at this point, Jordan Wilkins received only 6 of 64 offensive snaps and carried the ball twice for 5 yards. One has to wonder what the primary impetus is for the coaching staff to limit Wilkins so much given his productivity.
In what continues to be a disappointing sophomore season, wide receive Deon Cain was a healthy scratch. A certain Stampede Blue writer pointed out earlier this year that expecting a second-year, late-round draft pick coming off of an ACL injury to light the world on fire was probably unrealistic. Seems like that has been true.
Second round pick Rock Ya-Sin continues to lead defensive rookies in snap count. He took every one of the 73 defensive snaps in the games and tallied 4 defensive tackles. He also added a special teams tackle. Sadly, this is a day that Ya-Sin would like to forget as he was picked on regularly by Courtland Sutton.
Cornerback is a position that pretty consistently includes welcome to the NFL games for rookies. It’s a difficult leap to make and one of the most challenging (if not the most) positions in the game of football. It’s not surprising to see Ya-Sin, who is known for being physical, need some time to get used to the NFL game.
Let’s hope he turns things around in Pittsburgh.
Linebacker Bobby Okereke moved to the strong side linebacker spot against the Broncos, earning the “start” at that position. He took 38 of 73 defensive snaps and tallied 3 defensive tackles and 1 special teams tackle. It should be noted that Anthony Walker had a very strong game, particularly in the first half.
The competition created for snaps between Walker and Okereke should continue to yield positive results for the Colts as the season goes on.
Safety Khari Willis has burst onto the scene as one of the more promising defensive rookies taken in 2019. Unfortunately, a foot injury caused him to leave the game early and led to him taking only 22 of 73 defensive snaps. He gathered 3 tackles.
Defensive end Ben Banogu has been a part of a whirlwind experience in his welcome to the NFL. The coaching staff originally though he might play at linebacker and chose to move him permanently to defensive end in training camp (at least for this season). He was asked to contribute early with Jabaal Sheard missing time and then relegated to a depth role after Sheard and Kemoko Turay were both healthy.
After Turay went down for the season with an ankle injury, the Colts needed Banogu to step up. He took 36 of 73 defensive snaps and gathered 1 tackle, 1 sack, 1 pass defensed and 1 forced fumble. He made the game sealing play by getting pressure on Joe Flacco, forcing him up into the pocket, and running him down for a strip sack.
With Quincy Wilson a healthy scratch and Pierre Desir held out, presumably for an injury, Marvell Tell saw his first extended action of the season. He took 37 of 73 defensive snaps and gathered 3 tackles. It would take a review of the All-22 film to get an appropriate read of how he did in coverage but suffice to say that he wasn’t noticed much on Sunday, Ya-Sin was.
Linebacker EJ Speed was relegated to special teams work on Sunday. He made a special teams tackle and laid a key block on Zach Pascal’s big kick return to start the game. With Walker, Leonard and Okereke healthy, he will get few defensive opportunities.