The Colts get two key starters back in defensive end Kwity Paye and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Both Paye and Buckner returned to practice Tuesday, according to Zak Keefer, a writer for The Athletic.
Both DeForest Buckner and Kwity Paye have returned to practice today.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 17, 2021
No Sam Ehlinger or Parris Campbell (illnesses — not Covid) and expect them back quickly.
Buckner and Paye missed a short period of time with minor injuries. But for a team that’s had its fair share of injuries over the course of training camp, returning multiple defensive starters is a major boost to the Colts’ defense.
We know the kind of impact Buckner had for Indy last season. He practically lived in the opposing teams’ backfield, which, paired with 9.5 sacks, landed the former first-round stud another first-team All-Pro nod.
Speaking of first-round studs — enter in Kwity Paye, a high-ceilinged defensive end who’s been one of the team’s training camp standouts thus far. The Colts are hoping Paye can be one of a few solutions to the team’s inconsistences at edge which have been a reoccurring problem for the past few seasons.
The importance of a strong, consistent pass rush cannot be emphasized enough. And while Buckner and Grover Stewart were two of the best at their respective positions last season, their presence and playmaking alone wasn’t enough to give Indy’s pass rush the lift it needed at edge.
If, as a defense, you can’t get to the quarterback or at least make each play as difficult as possible by creating pressure, it’s hard to have success against today’s pass-heavy NFL teams. For a team who has playoff aspirations that stretch beyond Wild Card weekend, a more elite pass rush is a must.
Slowly, the Colts are starting to have multiple starters return or be close to returning. Ryan Kelly, as reported by Keefer Monday afternoon, is expected to be back at practice sometime this week after missing an extended period of time with an elbow injury. Now, Buckner and Paye have returned, too.
As the players become healthy and begin returning to practice, Indy certainly won’t complain and neither will their fans. With the Seattle Seahawks coming to town in just a few short weeks — a team that has a few dynamic playmakers on both sides of the ball — the Colts would like to have as many starters available as possible.