With such a young roster, one that is comprised of players who were almost universally drafted or signed by Chris Ballard, we’re going to switch things up. For the rest of the season, this series will focus primarily on discussing rookie contributions. We’ll select one standout player from each of Ballard’s two draft classes as well.
For a more in-depth and holistic look at all snap counts, visit Chris Blystone’s story from Monday.
Wide receiver Parris Campbell saw an increase in his snap count this week, seeing 32 of 71 snaps, or 45%. He caught 3 passes for 24 yards and returned a kickoff 31 yards that was one broken tackle away from a return touchdown.
If T.Y. Hilton remains hobbled in Week 4, expect Campbell to see even more use. There is no doubt that Campbell is a big play waiting to happen and it is inevitable that he will take a long opportunity to the house at some point this season — perhaps soon.
Quenton Nelson will likely be a weekly facet of this report. He again took every offensive snap. He continues to be a dominant force who appeared to have no trouble with a talented Falcons defensive interior. He was responsible for pulling on the most important running play of the game and springing Mack for a long run that sealed the game.
It truly is incredible to watch an offensive lineman have this much of an influence on a team’s success.
While Marlon Mack had another impressive game, with 74 rushing yards on 16 carries with 1 rushing touchdown, and 15 receiving yards on 2 receptions, this week’s third year nod goes to do-it-all receiver Zach Pascal.
Pascal caught 2 passes on 3 targets for 53 yards and a touchdown. He was on the field for 31 of 71 offensive snaps, or 44%, and made the most of them. Frank Reich drew up some impressive offensive plays to get Pascal open and when he wasn’t running routes, Pascal continues to be one of the team’s most important run blockers on the outside.
Throw in his special teams contributions and it is easy to develop a bit of a crush on the third-year receiver out of Old Dominion.
With All-Pro second-year linebacker Darius Leonard out of the lineup with a concussion, Bobby Okereke took 55 of 61 snaps, or 90%. He finished second on the team with 8 tackles and didn’t do anything to stand out as a weakness in Leonard’s place. While nothing Okereke did against the Falcons warrants a meaningful comparison to the 2018 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, he could do a whole lot worse than being productive replacement in his first NFL start.
Rock Ya-Sin saw a reduced role this week, taking the field for 27 of 61 defensive snaps, or 44%. He tallied two tackles and again was pretty quiet in coverage. Quiet in coverage is a good thing.
Ben Banogu was on the field for 19 of 61 defensive snaps, or 31% and made two tackles, one for a loss. While the rookie has seen a relatively limited role on defense to start the year, its encouraging to see some of the ways he produces when he is on the field. He has found his way into the backfield somewhat regularly and stands out as a player who could become more with development.
Khari Willis saw the field on 27 of 61 snaps, or 44%. He finished with 3 tackles and wasn’t quite involved against the Falcons as he was against the Titans. With the report that Malik Hooker will miss weeks to recover from a meniscus tear, Willis will be in line for an expanded role. He will be worth monitoring closely, particularly the next two weeks.
E.J. Speed took his first regular season defensive snaps, 3 of 61 or 5%. While he didn’t tally a defensive statistic, it should be a seen as a positive sign that he is active when Leonard sits out.
Without Darius Leonard, the second-year group wasn’t as loud as it typically is on defense. The other primary standout from the group is defensive end Kemoko Turay. While he is only credited for 1 quarterback hit, and picked up a penalty for striking Matt Ryan’s helmet during a rush attempt, he continues to look quick off of the edge. He has found as way to be disruptive, often in a positive way, in limited snaps.
To pick up what could have been two quarterback hits in only 13 of 61 defensive snaps, or 21%, is pretty efficient. He needs to clean up the penalties, he struggled with the same issue in 2018, but looks more polished in his second year.
With Darius Leonard out, Anthony Walker took the field for all 61 defensive snaps. Interestingly, Walker moved from his Mike role and took Leonard’s spot as the Will linebacker. Boy, did he produce from that spot!
Walker looked like a man on a mission, gathering 14 total tackles, including 11 solo, and 2 tackles for a loss. He had a nose for the football, and his two tackles in the backfield were impressive reads. He displayed more speed than Colts fans were accustomed to seeing, particularly during his rookie season.
When Leonard returns, assuming he can get back to his maniacal ways on defense, the Colts are going to have a nasty group at linebacker and Walker will continue to be a big part of it.