The Indianapolis native JuJu Brents made his professional debut with the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in Baltimore, after two consecutive healthy scratches to start the season. The rookie's first start came at the perfect time. Second year corner Darrell Baker Jr. had bursted onto the scene amidst training camp and preseason play, however, when the regular season arrived, he began to struggled immensely. It gave Brents enough time to get back to 100% health as well as provided on-the-field reps in the meantime.
Brents had been recovering from wrist surgery in the offseason but shortly after his practice debut, a hamstring flare up caused the rookie to be sidelined even longer. His lack of live reps in training camp proved to be an obstacle early on, but Brents is back and seemingly better than ever.
JuJu Brents was good in coverage
JuJu Brents had an incredible debut against the Ravens. The rookie played every snap of strong side corner when the defense was in nickel formation. When in a 4-3 base, Kenny Moore II moved over to replace Brents.
Brents was targeted five times and allowed three receptions for just 18 yards. Two of those targets came on his first two NFL snaps and they were both completed for gains of six and eight yards, respectively. After that, Brents remained stout in his efforts, allowing just one more reception for four yards on three targets.
His biggest play came on a third down against one of the league's best receiving tight ends in Mark Andrews. Admittedly, the throw was a touch behind, though Brents was in good position nonetheless.
According to Pro Football Focus, Brents logged a team, season-high coverage grade of 89.3 on 34 coverage snaps. I understand that the subjective practice of player grades is a hard one to trust, however, after a session of watching the all-22 film of Brents' debut, I can confidently say that I agree with their analysis.
JuJu Brents against the run
Brents was known to be a willing tackler in college, and the jump to the NFL has not changed that. Naturally an aggressive defender in the first place, Brents provided multiple big hits and missed just one tackle on the day.
The biggest tackle of them all was a beautiful effort play straight out of the Shaquille Leonard school of peanut punches. After appearing to be an afterthought in stopping Kenyan Drake from scampering any further downfield, Brents became hyperfocused on the ball, saw his opportunity, and punched the ball out (and picked it up).
JuJu Brents, a once Warren Central standout, has proved that his lofty dream of playing for his hometown team wasn't so crazy after all. That proof came when he was selected as the 44th-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft but his rise to stardom may come much sooner than expected.