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Defensive Line Burning Questions Heading Into Training Camp

Posted Jul 17, 2014

Intro: After back-to-back playoff appearances, the Colts have the foundation set for a deep playoff run. What’s in store at the defensive line position group heading into the 2014 training camp?



INDIANAPOLIS –Now we move to the other side of the trenches, where the unit has some new faces in trying to help the Colts rush defense.

The Colts largest free agent addition in 2014 came along the defensive line and the unit has a mix of some young and old faces to form the three-man front.

Here’s a look at the defensive line burning questions heading into training camp.

How beneficial is the addition of Art Jones to the Colts rush defense?

If Art Jones was a puzzle piece and the Colts 3-4 scheme was an 11-piece puzzle, consider him a massive section very close to the middle.

Finding the right body types to fit the Colts 3-4 defense was going to take some time and Jones is one of the final missing pieces.

Jones comes to the Colts after four seasons in Baltimore. He lined up all over the defensive line in the Ravens 3-4 scheme and the thought is he will do the same in Indianapolis.

In base packages, Jones can line up on the outside of a nose tackle giving a three-man front some serious beef in the trenches.

One distinct quality about the 315-pound-ish Jones (he is listed at 337 pounds but has said he wanted to lose 15-20 pounds before training camp) is you don’t have to take him off the field in obvious passing situations.

Jones has combined for 8.5 sacks in the last two seasons so don’t be surprised if the Colts slide him inside on third-downs.

STAT TO NOTE: A potential starting defensive line of Cory Redding, Josh Chapman and Art Jones weighs on average 331 pounds.



Is Josh Chapman ready to man the nose tackle position?


Ryan Grigson made it a point this offseason that the Colts wanted to improve the middle of their defense.

Chapman might not be an offseason addition but he’s a big (literally and figuratively) part of that process.

After a “redshirt” rookie season in 2012, Chapman played 22.4 percent of the defensive snaps last year.

Without 2013 starter Aubrayo Franklin, Chapman will probably see that snap count number rise this season.

In talking with other Colts defensive linemen, they don’t sugarcoat things when speaking on the importance of Chapman’s presence.

The nose tackle (Chapman) is the foundation of the house (the Colts 3-4 defense) and Chapman relishes eating up space and letting his linebackers run free behind him.

STAT TO NOTE: The Colts finished the 2013 season tied for 20th in the NFL in rush defense, allowing 108.9 yards per game.



What’s the defensive line depth look like in 2014?


The major injury coming out of the Cols nine-week offseason program was having to place veteran end Fili Moala on injured reserve.

Moala was a key contributor adding depth to the Colts three-man front after successfully transitioning from the team’s 4-3 scheme to the 3-4.

If Redding, Jones and Chapman are running with the first team, then Ricky Jean Francois is knocking on that door.

When healthy, Jean Francois was very effective last season for the Colts and has some versatility to play multiple spots up front.

After that, some unproven guys are going to have take on larger roles in 2014.

Montori Hughes and Jeris Pendleton are going into their second seasons with the Colts and provide defensive coordinator Greg Manusky with some wide-body options.

STAT TO NOTE: In 2013, Hughes played 6.7 percent of the defensive snaps and Pendleton played 3.8 percent.


ICYMI: Quarterback Burning Questions

ICYMI: Running Back Burning Questions

ICYMI: Wide Receiver/Tight End Burning Questions

ICYMI: Offensive Line Burning Questions

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