It will be significant activity for Chapman because he had none in 2012 because of a major knee injury he incurred in his final season at Alabama.
“I’m full go. I’m 100 percent,” said Chapman. “I’ll be right out there with them.”
Chapman suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee against Florida in October of his final year, playing on one leg a large part of the way as Alabama won a national title. He made the decision to play on when it was determined no further damage could happen.
Drafted in the fifth round a year ago (136th overall), Chapman had a brief window to join the active roster at last season’s mid-point before all parties decided to hold him out for the year.
He practiced briefly after coming PUP, then ended the season on injured reserve.
Now as OTAs ensue, so will Chapman with his teammates.
“It has been a long time coming. I haven’t been away from the game this long ever in my life,” said Chapman. “It’s an anxious kind of feeling. Just being able to put the pads on again and feel that extra thump is good.”
One of the club’s ministers of mayhem,
“He’s his own guy. He’s a guy who has been in the middle,” said Mathis. “I like to call him, ‘Thug in the trenches, TNT.’ He does his job and takes pride in it. You can’t ask for anything more.”
Ryan Grigson noted last year that Chapman, 6-0, 316, always was pictured among the Alabama players holding the 2011 title trophy. To Grigson, that said it all about how the school felt about Chapman, saying, “He was a warrior.”
Indianapolis last year made strides in a first season in a hybrid 3-4 attack. Chapman was not in the mix, but the stout presence who appeared in 54 games and won two national championships under Nick Saban will help.
“Sometimes here we really didn’t really have that one guy in the middle who was known just to plug up two men and really took pride in that. The schemes were different,” said
Chapman kept a reserved nature last year while rehabilitating. He also kept his nose in the playbook to be ready when he was ready.
“I understand the system very well. I kind of really understand my role,” said Chapman. “The more reps I get, the more I become confident with it.
“Last year, I already studied the playbook, and it kind of came back to me like that (snaps fingers). You still can’t get enough study, though. You put that book down for a day or two and you lose a lot of stuff. I stay at it a lot and try to learn more than my position. I try to learn more to know what guys are doing around me.”
Chapman looks forward to getting as many OTA reps as possible to augment the study he has made since joining the team.
Mathis is looking for another component to help build a stronger unit, one that will defend every blade of grass and make life miserable for opponents.
A man of few words, too, Mathis is bullish on Chapman.
“I learned enough last year from him in practice to know why he got drafted where he did,” said Mathis. “He’s a stout force. You’re not going to move him, and he knows his job description.
“You’re not going to knock him out. He does it, and he takes pride in doing it. That’s going to help us a lot.”