Colts: Why Denico Autry’s return is huge for defense vs Texans

Colts DL Denico Autry (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Colts DL Denico Autry (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Here’s why DE Denico Autry’s return is huge for the Colts’ defense vs Houston.

Given the slew of players who landed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list leading up to the game, it really wasn’t surprising that the Indianapolis Colts conceded first place in the AFC South to the Tennessee Titans last weekend.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the lopsided defeat was just how important defensive line tandem DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry — both of whom were sidelined — are to the defense, specifically against the run, as Titans running back Derrick Henry compiled 178 yards on 6.58 yards per attempt and a season-high three touchdowns in the game.

Well, fans in Indianapolis will love hearing that Autry has been activated off the COVID-19 reserve list, putting him in line to practice and suit up for Sunday’s showdown vs the Houston Texans. Speaking of which, let’s dive into what the 30-year-old’s return means for the Colts’ defense in this matchup.

With Buckner still waiting for the green light, Autry could take on a bigger role than usual this weekend. The Colts’ defensive scheme this season has emphasized heavy rotations to keep players fresh, but the seven-year pro has been firing on all cylinders this season and deserves to be fully unleashed.

In nine games (eight starts), Autry ranks first on Indianapolis with six sacks and second on the team with seven QB hits and 13 pressures. It shouldn’t be surprising that the Colts surrendered a combined 65 points over their last two fixtures — their most in a two-game span this season — with him sidelined.

With Deshaun Watson seemingly in the form of his life over the last two months, Autry re-entering the fold becomes even more imperative. The Texans superstar is obviously as nimble as any quarterback in the league, so Indianapolis has to emphasize keeping him contained in the pocket.

That’s obviously easier said than done, but with the likes of Autry and Justin Houston sealing the edge — on top of Darius Leonard likely being deployed as a spy and pouncing in the event that Watson takes off with his legs — we definitely like their chances.

If Autry and Co. are able to make life uncomfortable for Watson, the Colts undoubtedly win this game in dominating fashion. Either way, his return is massive news for the defense, which hasn’t been able to stop a nosebleed over the last two weeks.