The first day of padded practice for the Colts took place Monday, as well as the first day that reporters were allowed to attend those practices. With just 26 days until the team kicks off their 2020 regular season, every one of those padded practices will be critical for players to make an impact and prove they belong with the team.
One guy who stood out to the reporters in attendance was young defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis.
Liked what I saw from these guys in 1-on-1s:— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) August 17, 2020
Al-Quadin Muhammad, Le’Raven Clark, Grover Stewart, Tyquan Lewis
Tidbit from pass rush drills: Standouts for me so far are Tyquan Lewis beating... Quenton Nelson, and LeRaven Clark with two really good reps vs Denico Autry.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) August 17, 2020
Good day for Tyquan Lewis in 1-on-1 pass rush drills, going against Quenton Nelson. #Colts— George Bremer (@gmbremer) August 17, 2020
Lewis bested star guard Quenton Nelson in 1-on-1 reps and left an impression with those watching. Given the short timetable to prove themselves ahead of the season, that small win could be a big deal for Lewis, who has floundered among a draft class that has flourished.
Drafted 64th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, Tyquan Lewis was a standout from Ohio State. He is the 4th second round pick from that draft for the Colts, and pretty clearly the underachiever of the group. Darius Leonard has established himself as one of the best linebackers in football, Braden Smith quickly stepped in to hold down the right tackle position and has steadily become a very good player, and Kemoko Turay showed signs of a breakout 2019 before his season was cut short with a nasty ankle injury.
Lewis, on the other hand, missed the first part of the 2018 season with a lingering toe injury that landed him on injured reserve. That hampered his ability to get traction on a roster that needed his pass rush ability. When he returned, he put up acceptable numbers as a rookie in a rotational role, notching 2 sacks, 13 tackles, and 8 QB hits in his 338 defensive snaps. The sample size was small, but he seemed to be a serviceable player with room to grow.
Upon entering the 2019 season, Lewis didn’t take that second step that many of his fellow draft class did. He was inactive for a large part of the season, seeing a 10% reduction in defensive snaps and providing little in the way of production of note, despite being healthy.
The addition this offseason of players like DeForest Buckner and Sheldon Day, as well as the return of Kemoko Turay from injury have made for a crowded field that will jockey for spots on the Colts’ defensive line. For a guy who can play both inside and out, Lewis has a tough road to prove he belongs.
Chris Ballard set clear expectations with Lewis as to what was needed from him this offseason and going forward:
“What I told Tyquan was, this is a big year for him. We’re going to expect him to come in and really show what we think his talent level is. Where we end up playing him, we see him as a guy who can play both at end and inside, and he’s got to be able to give that to us.”
With his camp off to a good start, Lewis will need to keep showing he can grow as a player. Given the team’s depth on the defensive line and the desire for versatile players on the roster, he ought to be given every chance to succeed, but if he can’t make an impression early, it will be an uphill battle to see the field once the season is under way.