The Indianapolis Colts will have an almost entirely different defensive line rotation next season following the departures of Denico Autry and Justin Houston, the latter of whom, if you can believe it, is still braving the free agent waters with training camp right around the corner.
Without the two veterans, the Colts will resort to the likes of Tyquan Lewis, Kwity Paye, Kemoko Turay, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Dayo Odeyingbo (when he completes his injury rehab), and one of Isaac Rochell or Ben Banogu at the defensive end position.
Of course, DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart, both of whom formed one of the most formidable defensive tackle duos in the NFL a season ago, will man the interior.
It goes without saying Buckner and Stewart, given the Colts’ lack of experience on the edge, will have to handle most of the burden up front.
Well, it would appear Buckner is ready to step up as the leader of the group. During his latest media session, the star DT shared his excitement to mentor Paye and Odeyingbo
DeForest Buckner is ready to mentor the Colts’ rookie pass rushers.
"“I was looking at the room, and it was me and (Grover Stewart) that had the most experience,” Buckner told reporters. “That’s crazy, because I’ve been in that position before in San Francisco. We had a fairly young group, we had some veteran guys come in here and there and play for us, but I kind of took on a leadership role a while back, so it’s nothing new to me.“As soon as they got drafted I sent them a text just saying I’m excited to work with them moving forward in the next however many years we are going to be here together. Telling them it’s just the start.”"
Speaking of those texts Buckner sent to the Colts’ rookies, Odeyingbo revealed he got his just as his introductory Zoom press conference got underway. During that presser, ironically enough, the rookie admitted to watching some of Buckner’s film in college.
Can you think about what Odeyingbo and Paye can learn from Buckner? He’ll clearly enlighten them about the Colts’ playbook, teach them new pass-rushing moves and how to beat opposing offensive linemen in swift fashion. Not only that, but the reigning All-Pro can help Indy’s draft picks manage their time and educate them on the ins and outs of the offseason.
All you need to know is that Buckner is eager to help, in any way possible.
"“When it was my first offseason, I didn’t really know what to do with that time, so I was asking all the veterans, how did they prepare for the season when they’ve got all this time to themselves,” Buckner continued.“Now, for me, as a veteran, having all this extra time to prepare, I know where I need to go, what I need to do, but I know the rookies are going to have questions. I’ll make sure to have the answers.”"
Colts fans have to be getting excited reading these comments. Buckner’s eagerness to mentor Paye and Odeyingbo should pay immediate dividends for the rookies, who are likely to be huge pieces of Indianapolis’ defensive line rotation in 2021.
Given that Buckner was once in their shoes, it sounds like Colts fans can sleep happy knowing the team’s first two picks from this year’s are in great hands.