It’s ‘next man up’ for the Indianapolis Colts again at cornerback, as in light of starter Dallis Flowers’ season-ending injury, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will be turning to new reinforcements.
He indicated on Tuesday that the initial plan for the Colts is to have both demoted starter Darrell Baker Jr. and rookie Jaylon Jones split reps and essentially form a platoon of sorts on the other side of new rookie starter JuJu Brents (via the Athletic’s James Boyd):
#Colts DC Gus Bradley says second-year pro Darrell Baker Jr. and rookie seventh-round pick Jaylon Jones with both get looks as the third starting CB this week with Dallis Flowers being out for the year due to a ruptured Achilles.— James Boyd (@RomeovilleKid) October 3, 2023
Such a cornerback competition may ultimately sort itself out, as the Colts may ride the ‘hot hand.’
This initial plan is certainly not earth-shattering, as there aren’t many capable bodies even left in a cornerback room that was already depleted—following Isaiah Rodgers’ offseason suspension and eventual release from violating the league’s gambling policy (*and an earlier trade of veteran lockdown cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys).
Earlier this offseason, the Colts passed on veteran options such as Marcus Peters and Rock Ya-Sin, and it’s a fair question of whether that could cost them increasingly more right now.
Both Baker Jr. and Jones impressed for the Colts throughout training camp and preseason.
However, Baker Jr. struggled during his first two starts before being benched as a healthy scratch for consecutive weeks, while Jones remains a 7th round rookie—meaning initial expectations should be tempered a bit.
It’s possible that the Colts could look to bring back rookie 5th round pick Darius Rush, who was released as part of final 53-man roster cuts and is now on the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad—as he at least knows their defensive playbook and has prior familiarity.
However, even then, it doesn’t spark a lot of confidence for a group that’s already inexperienced—and now increasingly thinner. Maybe the Colts could bring in a veteran option, but who’s both capable and available at this stage of the season remains a big question mark.