D’Joun Smith, Frankie Williams Could Be Solutions to Colts ‘Scary’ Cornerback Situation
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano described his cornerback situation as “scary” Monday with injuries to starters Vontae Davis and Patrick Robinson, as well as to key reserves such as Darius Butler and Jalil Brown.
While the team is also reportedly kicking the tires on veteran free agent options like Antonio Cromartie, it may simply be, “Next Man Up” internally once again, which means that young cornerbacks such as 2nd-year pro D’Joun Smith and undrafted rookie Frankie Williams could be thrown into starting roles come Saturday evening’s preseason game or later on.
Of course, as a 2015 3rd round pick of the Colts, Smith clearly has the talent to become a key cornerback for the team, but has struggled staying on the field–still dealing with a lingering knee injury suffered during his rookie season that limited him to just 4 games.
The encouraging news is that Smith did play in this past weekend’s preseason game, but was held to a strict “pitch count” of only 10 snaps.
Still, he’ll need to show that his knee has fully healed for the Colts to feel comfortable with pushing him any further for more extended reps:
"“We’re just going to have to see how these other guys progress,” said Pagano. “If D’Joun (Smith) can get to that point where the knee calms down all the time, and we can get a significant amount of playing time out of him.”"
However, one revelation at the cornerback position appears to be undrafted rookie Frankie Williams from Purdue, who Pagano praised for his offseason work and practice habits:
"“Frankie Williams continues to be a guy that shows up every single day here,” said Pagano on Williams. “Does exactly what you ask him to do. On gameday, you can see the results of his hard work and his preparation. He makes plays, and it’s not too big for Frankie.”“We all know where he came from and how he got here, but he continues to impress out there. Obviously, with the injuries, he’s going to get more playing time. He’s a guy that can go in there and play nickel.”"
It’s also possible that without outside help, the Colts could turn to converting some safeties into temporary cornerbacks such as Dezmen Southward or Alden Darby–both of whom have prior experience at the position:
"“We’ve got some good athletes back there,” concluded Pagano. “We’ve got some good athletes at safety. We’re going to have to get creative is what we have to do. You know while these guys are on the mend and out.”"