Monachino: ‘Going to be Close’ on Clayton Geathers Return for Regular Season Opener

Jul 27, 2016; Anderson, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts safety Clayton Geathers during training camp at Anderson University. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kryger/Indianapolis Star via USA TODAY Sports
Jul 27, 2016; Anderson, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts safety Clayton Geathers during training camp at Anderson University. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kryger/Indianapolis Star via USA TODAY Sports /

Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino said Wednesday that it’s “going to be close” on whether starting safety Clayton Geathers will be recovered in time for the team’s regular season opener, having broken a bone in his foot earlier this offseason.

While the team was hopeful he’d be ready to go for Week 1, the Colts are currently unsure whether that will actually come to fruition:

"Oct 8, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) fails to make the first down on a fourth and one in the second quarter against Indianapolis Colts safety Clayton Geathers (42) at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports“Absolutely not,” replied defensive coordinator Ted Monachino when asked whether he knew if Geathers would be ready for the opener. “We have no idea. Clayton’s a warrior, and Clayton is a guy that is going to do everything that he can do to heal on time or even ahead of schedule. Right now, it’s going to be close. It’s going to be right there at the end. If we can get good practices from him before we play, obviously he’ll be up and ready to go against Detroit.”"

If Geathers’ bone in his foot properly heals, and the Colts are able to get him in in-game shape and up-to-speed with practice time, he’s a safe bet to be inserted into the starting lineup at safety alongside veteran Mike Adams.

Even though Geathers has been unavailable to actually practice, the team is still planning as though he’ll be a key player for the defense at safety going forward:

"“Clayton’s never put completely on the shelf,” added Monachino. “We’re moving him forward with the install (of the defense), with his rehab, and all of those things that we’re going to get him as healthy as we can as quickly as we can but we’re starting to figure out who will be, and who may be not available come Week 1, and we’ve got to have those contingencies in place.”"

That being said, the Colts defense has been moving on with contingency plans as rookie 2nd round pick T.J. Green has been receiving the 1st team reps in Geathers’ absence and appears to be the clear frontrunner to start–should the latter not be available to play, with Darius Butler and Winston Guy also in the mix:

"Aug 4, 2016; Anderson, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (84) makes a leaping catch over Colts safety T.J. Green (32) during the Indianapolis Colts NFL training camp at Anderson University. Mandatory Credit: Mykal McEldowney/Indy Star via USA TODAY NETWORK“Right now, we’ve done that and we’ve got that contingency plan in place but if Clayton comes back, obviously he’ll fit right back in and be competing for those reps alongside T.J. (Green), Darius Butler, and whoever else we would align at safety, Winston Guy, any of them,” concluded Monachino."

If Geathers isn’t ready to for the team’s regular season opener against the Detroit Lions on September 11th, it will be a significant blow to the secondary, as the 2nd-year safety showed considerable promise in his rookie season–playing as a hybrid safety in nickel packages and even making 2 starts due to injuries.

Specifically, Geathers brought much needed physicality and toughness to the backend of the team’s defense with his hard-hitting style.

However, the team would likely gain some speed and range with blazing fast rookie safety T.J. Green starting at safety, even if it would likely come with a few more growing pains, as the even younger safety remains a bit of a developmental project.

Nevertheless, both Geathers and Green figure to be the future for the Colts at safety long-term, it’s just a matter of which one will actually be starting in the team’s regular season opener.