INDIANAPOLIS — After a concussion, neck and knee issues limited Clayton Geathers' availability between 2016 and 2017, the fourth-year Indianapolis Colts safety's body is finally getting right.
Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens, Geathers made his 2018 preseason debut after missing time this spring and summer recovering from offseason knee surgery.
Following the game, he admitted he was "a little nervous" going into it — but that it was "a good nervous."
Geathers began this year's training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list after being unable to fully participate in OTAs and minicamps. However, he recently returned within the last couple of weeks of training camp and steadily saw more action in practice.
Come Monday night, Geathers was officially back in game action, and he promptly made one of the plays of the game.
In the first quarter following the Colts' first offensive drive, Rigoberto Sanchez punted the ball to Ravens returner Tim White at the Baltimore 20-yard line. White fielded the punt but was quickly met by the Colts' coverage team. Geathers was able to swat the ball out of White's grasp and the Colts quickly recovered the fumble on the Ravens' 14-yard line.
"That's what we want to pride ourselves on; getting the ball," Geathers said. "So we've just got to continue following the ball."
Takeaways are often an emphasis on defense, but the Colts actually forced and recovered two fumbles during punts on Monday night, and they blocked and recovered another punt late in the game.
The Colts' defense is getting healthier just in time for the regular season opener on Sept. 9. Geathers' fellow safety Malik Hooker was taken off the PUP list at the same time as Geathers, and the two have been brought along together throughout practice. Both appear to have received their live practice reps exclusively with the first-team defense.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard has said the team is targeting this Saturday's Week 3 preseason matchup with the San Francisco 49ers for Hooker's return, so we may see Hooker and Geathers in a live game together for the first time ever.
"From the start, when he (Geathers) got back on the field you could just feel his presence," head coach Frank Reich told reporters after Monday's game.
"Just thinking about getting excited about getting Hook (Hooker) back out there as well, two playmaking safeties can make a huge difference in a defense. I mean, a huge difference. I know we all know that. You could feel that impact tonight from Clayton."