The Indianapolis Colts extended a vote of confidence to their young collection of pass rushers when they opted against re-signing free agents Justin Houston and Denico Autry, both of whom combined for 15.5 sacks and 22 QB hits last season.
Based on what we’ve seen during training camp and the preseason, Tyquan Lewis and first-rounder Kwity Paye are the favorites to start on the edge, with Kemoko Turay and whomever makes the roster behind him contributing off the bench.
Though it won’t garner national recognition, that’s a fearsome group, and it’ll get even deeper when Dayo Odeyingbo enters the fold.
The 2021 second-round pick has been rehabbing a torn Achilles he suffered in January while he was training for the NFL Combine and was placed on the non-football injury list for the duration of camp and the preseason.
While it’s still unclear when Odeyingbo will be cleared by doctors, Frank Reich provided a reassuring update on the young pass rusher.
Dayo Odeyingbo seems to be ahead of schedule in his Achilles rehab.
"“He’s making good progress considering where he was with (Eric) Fisher,” Reich told reporters. “I think everything is kind of paralleling the course. We feel very optimistic and positive about what he’s doing.”“It’s funny you said that. I was just saying the same thing to Chris (Ballard) yesterday, ‘Man, I just want to see that next step for him too.’ I think we’re getting close, but he’s making good progress.”"
You can just tell that Reich is itching for Odeyingbo to get cleared.
It’s likely that Odeyingbo begins the season on the physically unable to perform list — which means he’ll be required to be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks — but this update suggests he’ll be ready to make an impact sooner than the Colts’ medical team originally expected at the start of the offseason.
That would be a huge boost for the defensive line, as Odeyingbo has the versatility to line up on the edge and interior. Could you imagine bringing a 6-foot-6, 276-pound physical freak off the bench to spare one of DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart, Lewis, Paye or Turay?
Chris Ballard had a lot of explaining to do after he drafted Odeyingbo over a left tackle or another edge rusher that wasn’t seriously injured. However, given how highly the GM spoke about the Vanderbilt product, fans eventually realized he was one of Ballard’s favorite picks from the 2021 draft and bought into the decision.
The Colts are no doubt taking a long-term approach with Odeyingbo and fans shouldn’t expect him to make an impact until near the halfway point of the season at the earliest, but it’s hard not to get excited reading Reich’s quotes.