RELATED LINK:• Defensive Line Burning Questions Heading Into 2016 Training Camp INDIANAPOLIS — The defensive line positions for the Indianapolis Colts in 2016 present many unknown scenarios heading into training camp.
What if Henry Anderson isn't ready by Week 1? What happens if fourth-round draft pick Hassan Ridgeway pushes his way into the rotation? What do you do with talented guys like T.Y. McGill and Zach Kerr whenever Anderson and Art Jones, who is suspended the first four weeks of the season, get back onto the field?
For the Colts, most of these scenarios are good problems to have.
Other than the unknown returns of Anderson (recovering from a torn ACL) and Jones (recovering from a season-ending ankle injury suffered last preseason), Indianapolis is confident that it has a deep — not to mention young — corps of defensive linemen heading into the season, giving first-year defensive coordinator Ted Monachino plenty of options in his 3-4 front.
Anderson's return perhaps remains as the unit's biggest question mark. Before suffering his knee injury during the Colts' Week 9 victory over the Denver Broncos last season, the Stanford product was piecing together a fine rookie campaign, racking up 35 tackles, a sack and two passes defensed.
Colts Owner Jim Irsay confirmed in June that Anderson likely won't be ready by Week 1 — but they certainly won't rush things.
With all that being said, here's a look at the state of the Colts' defensive line unit heading into training camp:NOTABLE RETURNERS:
- DT Henry Anderson
- DT Arthur Jones (suspended first four games of 2016 season)
- NT Zach Kerr
- DE Kendall Langford
- DT T.Y. McGill
- DT David Parry
- DT Kelcy QuarlesNOTABLE ADDITIONS:
- DT Hassan RidgewayNOTABLE CAMP BATTLES:
- DE Sterling Bailey
- DT Ricky Lumpkin
- DE Delvon SimmonsNOTABLE LOSSES:
- Earl Okine (switched to outside linebacker)
- DT Billy Winn (free agency)
Last year, the Colts kept six total defensive linemen — Anderson, Zach Kerr, Kendall Langford, T.Y. McGill, Earl Okine and David Parry — out of training camp for their Week 1 roster, with Jones already on IR after suffering an ankle injury during Week 3 of the preseason.
By season's end, Anderson and Billy Winn, an early-season acquisition, had joined Jones on IR, giving Kelcy Quarles a chance to dress a couple games down the stretch.
So, going into the 2016 season, the way the Colts' coaching staff looks at it, Jones' return in Week 4 coupled with Okine's switch to outside linebacker pretty much puts the defensive line positions right back where they started going into training camp last year.
In the mix now is Ridgeway, a big (6 foot 3, 317 pounds) defensive tackle out of Texas whom the Colts selected in the fourth round of this year's NFL Draft. Should Anderson or Jones not be ready by Week 1 — or if Ridgeway continues to raise some eyebrows at practices — don't be surprised if the rookie gets some meaningful snaps early in the going for Indianapolis.
The rest of the group, however, will look to build upon the momentum it built last season.
The defensive ends are led by Anderson and Langford. Anderson is the up-and-comer, while Langford, whose 128 consecutive starts leads all active NFL defensive linemen, is as durable as they come. Last season — his first in Indianapolis — Langford collected 38 tackles and a career-best seven sacks, giving the coaching staff plenty of re-assurance that they have a player who's more than capable up front.
The defensive tackle position has plenty of depth for the Colts. Although Jones will not put in a full season's worth of work for the third straight season in Indy, he'll look to bounce back after his suspension to prove his worth after coming over from the Baltimore Ravens, where he had 100 tackles and 8.5 sacks in his final two seasons before signing in Indy in 2014. In nine games with the Colts in 2014, Jones had 23 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Beyond Jones, however, is a formidable youth movement in McGill and Parry. Last season, McGill came on strong to register three sacks, including two (one of which forcing a safety) in a Week 16 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Parry, meanwhile, had 16 starts at the nose tackle position last season for the Colts, collecting 31 tackles and a sack.
Kerr, meanwhile, gives the Colts depth and size (6 foot 2, 334 pounds) at nose tackle. After registering three sacks and a forced fumble in his rookie season in 2014, Kerr played in 12 games with four starts in 2015, collecting 29 tackles and a pass defensed.
The rest of the defensive line this training camp is filled out with defensive ends Sterling Bailey and Delvon Simmons — two undrafted rookies — and first-year defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin, who has played in seven career NFL games, collecting 10 total tackles and a sack for the Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders.2016 Colts Training Camp Previews:- Offensive Line
- Defensive Line
- Running Backs
- Inside Linebackers
- Tight Ends
- Outside Linebackers
- Wide Receivers