ANDERSON, Ind. – The loss of Clayton Geathers for potentially all of Training Camp opens a path lined with opportunity for T.J. Green.
With Geathers out for some time due to a foot injury suffered in training away from the team, Green's role for the immediate will look vastly different from what many expected.
Green's inexperience at safety (he played the position for two years in college, starting for just one, compared to Geathers starting for all four his collegiate years), plus what the Colts had returning at safety in 2016, gave Chuck Pagano the ability to be patient with this year's second-round pick.
That patience will be expedited this Training Camp, with Green receiving the early first-team reps, next to Mike Adams, on Wednesday afternoon (Green did leave Wednesday's practice early due to cramps).
"We took T.J. in the second round for that very reason, in case something like this happens," Pagano said on Wednesday. "Again, you can't coach 6-3, 205 pounds and 4.34 (40-yard dash).
"So, yeah, it's next man up."
During the team's offseason program in May and June, Geathers and Adams were the starters with Green immersed in an NFL playbook.
New coordinator Ted Monachino liked what he saw and heard from Green after two months of studying.
"T.J. had a good spring," Monachino said at the start of camp. "He made a quantum leap from a learning standpoint. We would expect that to continue over the next couple of weeks and through the preseason. We expect him to play well enough for us to win with him."
These camp reps will of course aid the development for Green. The Colts know how valuable a player with the sideline-to-sideline athletic ability of Green can be to their defense.
For now, the Colts will continue to lean on the veteran presence of Adams.
This is Adams' 13th NFL season, his third with the Colts. This camp was going to provide Adams his first extended reps alongside Geathers.
Now, it's going to be Green.
Asked what he needs to do to earn playing time, Green knows he has to be the quarterback of the secondary.
"Just go out there and show that I can run the defense," Green says.
"(Show) that I can control everything on the backend. Play fast and show my physicality."