Colts: D-line coach’s comments prove depth chart won’t determine rotation

Colts DL Tyquan Lewis (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Colts DL Tyquan Lewis (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts released their unofficial depth chart leading up to Sunday’s season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

While most of it read as expected, there were a couple of small surprises, including Rock Ya-Sin being listed as a starter after his nightmare 2020 and Al-Quadin Muhammad coming in ahead of Tyquan Lewis in the DE pecking order.

In terms of the defensive line, Lewis was raved about throughout training camp before he came down with a shoulder injury, so it was borderline shocking that Muhammad was listed ahead of him on the depth chart.

How could Lewis get demoted so quickly? Well, as it turns out, he wasn’t. While addressing the media on Thursday, defensive line coach Brian Baker said Muhammad being higher than Lewis came down to “training camp reps.”

The Colts’ depth chart isn’t going to determine their DL rotation.

We were honestly concerned that Lewis found himself in Frank Reich’s and Matt Eberflus’ doghouse after the depth chart was released, so Baker’s comments really helped clear the air on that. They also prove, however, that the Colts are thrilled with their edge rushing situation heading into Week 1.

With Lewis, Muhammad and first-rounder Kwity Paye rotating as the main disruptors off the edge and DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart wreaking havoc in the trenches, Indy could have an elite pass rush this season.

At the very least, it sounds like Lewis and Muhammad will be competing for the starting job opposite Paye. While serving as backups behind Justin Houston and Denico Autry in 2020, Lewis and Muhammad actually posted similar numbers.

  • Lewis: 24 tackles (four for loss), four sacks, six QB hits, two passes defended and 16 pressures over a 40% snap share.
  • Muhammad: 23 tackles (two for loss), two sacks, six QB hits, one forced fumble and 14 pressures over a 56% snap share.

Those stats would suggest that Lewis has the edge, but the Colts will no doubt embrace the “What have you done for me lately?” philosophy this season. Whomever has the hot hand will get the most reps. That goes for Paye, too. If the rookie struggles early on, Lewis and Muhammad could see the field together.

And don’t forget about Kemoko Turay. Though the 2018 second-rounder is battling a groin injury, the hype he garnered during training camp indicates he’ll play a major role as a reserve option alongside Ben Banogu.

In any event, the bottom line is that Lewis and Muhammad are both on a level playing field right now and their performance against the Seahawks on Sunday will determine who deserves to sit atop the depth chart moving forward.