Colts Finding Much Needed Defensive Line Depth In Anderson

Intro: One of the bright spots of Training Camp in Anderson for the Colts has been the play of the defensive line group. With Kendall Langford now hurt, the depth will be tested even more.


ANDERSON, Ind. – Entering his ninth NFL season, playing for his third team, Kendall Langford knows how the Colts are viewed in league circles.

"Around Indy, it's always been about the offense scoring a lot of points," Langford says.

Langford wants to change that perception among opponents, and even fans.

"We want to be the defense that when we come out they're cheering also, not just when the offense comes out," the durable defensive end says. "We don't want to be labeled an offensive team. We want to be labeled a team – offense, defense and special teams."

For that to occur in 2016, Langford's position group is going to have a lot to do with it.

As the Colts close camp in Anderson, they have dealt with a couple of roadblocks on the defensive line.

Henry Anderson remains on the physically unable to perform list. While Anderson is progressing and ahead of schedule, his return date is still unknown.

The Colts have had Arthur Jones working in camp, but his four-game suspension will kick in at the start of September.

Even without those two, defensive coordinator Ted Monachino likes what he has in the defensive trenches.

"The pleasant surprise is some of those down-the-line and depth defensive line guys," Monachino says. "They've done a great job of not necessarily playing to their dominant trait.

"We are seeing them buy into the technique. We are seeing them buy into the structure of the call. Really pleased with where they are, but I think as (Defensive Line Coach) Gary (Emanuel) continues to move forward with them in individual and from a technique standpoint, you'll only see that continue to improve."

Now, the Colts are dealing with the rare life sans Langford.

It goes without saying that Langford's potential loss is substantial.

Langford, who was one of the Colts' best defenders last season, has yet to miss a game in his eight-year NFL career. His 128 straight games played is the longest active streak in the NFL for defensive linemen.

The timetable should have him back just before the start of the regular season.

In past years, the Colts have found success with young defensive linemen, without necessarily using significant resources.

Zach Kerr was undrafted in 2014. He's the likely starter, if Anderson isn't ready for Week One.

David Parry was a fifth round-pick last year. Parry was the NFL's only rookie interior defensive lineman to start all 16 games last season.

T.Y. McGill went from an undrafted rookie (via a rookie minicamp tryout) last spring to a multi-sack guy late in 2015.

GM Ryan Grigson also likes the depth of the defensive line group, which added fourth-round pick Hassan Ridgeway.

  • "Zach made the most of his opportunity making big strides late last year and will need to keep making them because the competition is strong in that group."
  • "T.Y. seems to be finding his niche in our defense after really flashing late last year for us out there as a rook. He has some big play potential as everyone saw. He just needs to keep taking coaching and refining his technique. Effort and intensity will never be an issue with him since that is what drew us to him off the preseason film in Seattle. Off that film, he was the epitome of Coach (Chuck) Pagano's "rolling ball of butcher knives" description of a player and play style."
  • "Hassan has tremendous physical size with natural power and explosion in there. He has shown the ability in an instant to snatch up a very, very big body and toss them to the ground. That alone, even at worst, makes him a disruptive presence. We are excited about him. It will be up to Hassan as to how good he wants to be and at what rate he wants to develop his skill set for this level."

These names above could be playing even bigger roles at the start of 2016 and Training Camp provided a chance to prove their worth.

"The great thing is that we've got a bunch of guys who have versatility and flexibility," Pagano said on Tuesday after the Langford news was announced.

"Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to see those guys (on Sunday night), but we've got a bunch of guys that know a bunch of different spots so that helps."

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