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T.J. Green Remains Versatile Piece In Colts' Secondary

Posted Oct 11, 2016

Intro: T.J. Green has been firmly planted at safety in his first year in the NFL, but Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said Green could thrive at cornerback if needed.

INDIANAPOLIS — T.J. Green has already made one major position change in the recent past, moving from wide receiver to safety after his freshman season in college.

Could he be primed for another one, now in his rookie season in the NFL?

The lede won’t be buried here: no, it doesn’t look as if Green will officially be moving from safety anytime soon. But Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, asked Monday night if there would be a possibility of Green moving to cornerback, had an interesting answer.

“I’ll tell you what, he’s been out there at practice, and we’ve seen him in those matchups, and it sure looks right,” Grigson said of Green playing cornerback on his weekly appearance on Colts Roundtable Live on 1070 The Fan.

While Green was a starter for just one year at the safety position at Clemson before declaring for the NFL Draft after his junior season, the Sylacauga, Ala., native was on many NFL teams’ radars as a big, fast cornerback prospect in the professional ranks.

Green — who stands at 6 foot 3 and weighs 205 pounds — put on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, as his 40-yard dash time of 4.34 seconds was fourth among all participants (and second only to Auburn’s Jonathan Jones’ 4.33-second 40-yard dash among members of the secondary), and his broad jump of 10 feet, nine inches ranked second among all safeties, and fifth among all members of the secondary.

The Colts, meanwhile, saw Green as a safety, and selected him in the second round (57th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Immediately, head coach Chuck Pagano made it clear which position Green was going to be playing.

“He’s a safety,’’ Pagano said in May. “He’s played safety and that’s where he’ll start for us.’’

But Pagano also said he “wouldn’t put any limitations” on Green.

“We have to get the safety spot down and let him get comfortable there and figure out what he’s doing,’’ Pagano said of Green during rookie minicamp. “We threw enough at him to where he’s spinning quite a bit just after the first day, but you’re looking at a really good-looking athlete.”

By training camp, it was clear that Green was picking up Ted Monachino’s defensive schemes quickly, and would likely be a major contributor to the Colts’ secondary, behind starters Mike Adams and Clayton Geathers. And when Geathers went down with an injury, it was Green who filled in to start at free safety for the season opener against the Detroit Lions.

Monachino said when the team parted ways for a few weeks after OTAs, he wasn’t sure “what type of role that T.J. could have right away,” but that all changed when Green returned for training camp.

“When he came back for training camp, he made a quantum leap in the six weeks that they were gone from here,” Monachino said. “ knew that eventually during the course of the year, he would grow into a really good player for us but he came back and he seemed like a more mature man. He seemed like a guy that understood the system and I think that it’s a testament to his work ethic over the time off. I think that was the biggest adjustment for him. The biggest chance for adjustment for him, improvement, was during that time, the six weeks they were gone from here.”

In his rookie season, Green — who missed the Week 2 game against the Denver Broncos with an injury — has been credited so far with nine total tackles on the year, and has been a constant on the field in various defensive packages and on special teams.

But back to the cornerback discussion.

The Colts were hit hard with the injury bug at cornerback to begin the season, as the team’s No. 1 and 2 corners, Vontae Davis (ankle) and Patrick Robinson (concussion), were each dealing with issues, as well as key backup Darius Butler (ankle).

Although that situation has since cooled down a bit — despite Butler now needing minor surgery to one of his fingers after Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears — Grigson said he’s discussed with Pagano the possibility of moving Green to cornerback “if you ever get in a jam,” and have worked him out at the position during practices.

“Here’s a guy that flat-out has length, can run, can press,” Grigson said of Green. “Now there’s a lot of nuances at the position that he would have to learn, but at least one thing, he’s big, long and faster — heck, and can make up for any mistakes, because he has tremendous make-up speed.”

For now, the Colts are set with Davis, Robinson, Butler and fourth-year products Rashaan Melvin and Darryl Morris at the cornerback position, but, as Grigson said of green: “We’re excited about having him on the field in any role possible.”

“Our safety group is a real bright spot with Geathers and Adams and T.J. … We’re really high on those three guys,” Grigson said. “That safety group is pretty good, even if you throw in Matthias Farley in there, too. He’s no slouch.”

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