WESTFIELD, Ind. — Clayton Geathers' 2018 debut could come as soon as Monday night.
That's the goal, at least, for the Indianapolis Colts safety and his head coach, Frank Reich, who is eager to see one of his starting safeties roaming the secondary for the first time in this revamped Indianapolis defense.
"We are hoping that he can be ready," Reich told reporters on Tuesday.
Geathers, 26, has displayed plenty of flashes of brilliance from the strong safety position throughout his three-year NFL career, but injuries have limited his availability the last two seasons.
A fourth-round pick by the Colts in the 2015 NFL Draft, Geathers earned his keep his rookie year as a special teams standout and spot starter, and became a full-time starter for the first time the following season.
In 2016, he started all nine games he played at safety, registering 60 tackles (two for a loss), five passes defensed and one forced fumble before suffering a neck injury and sitting out the rest of the season.
After undergoing surgery during the following offseason, Geathers wouldn't return until Week 12 of the 2017 season. Slowly working his way back into the swing of things, he played in five of the Colts' final six games last year and finished with eight tackles.
But early during this offseason, Geathers elected to have a minor procedure to clean up his knee, which kept him out of the team's entire offseason workout program, as well as the first few days of training camp practices.
Activated from the Physically Unable To Perform (PUP) list on Aug. 2, Geathers and fellow safety Malik Hooker — who is working his way back from a season-ending knee injury suffered Week 7 of last season — have both seen their roles in practice increase little by little the last couple weeks.
Lately, Geathers and Hooker have been alternating practice and rest days, but on Sunday the duo was seen working in pads during live 11-on-11 periods for the first time together.
While the team has circled the third preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers as Hooker's possible 2018 debut, the hope is that Geathers will be good to go by Monday's game against the Baltimore Ravens at Lucas Oil Stadium.
That all depends on how the safety responds to what's expected to be a little bit heavier of a workload over the team's final three training camp practices Thursday through Saturday, which are highlighted by joint practices with the Ravens at Grand Park Sports Campus the last two days of camp.
"I think these next few days will tell," Reich said. "There's just a confidence in it. A lot of that comes from the player. It's a combination of talking with the trainers and the doctors. When a guy is ready and healthy, sometimes there's just that last emotional step of, 'Hey, I'm ready to go out there and go full speed for 20 plays or whatever it is.' That's a team process to get through that, but hopefully, he will be ready to go."
Geathers isn't worrying too much about whether or not he does play against the Ravens. He says his knee is feeling good, and he's been happy about the work he's put in to this point of training camp.
"Just taking it one day at a time to be honest with you," Geathers said on Tuesday. "Getting these practices under my belt, but hopefully (I play). Hopefully yeah, I feel like it is going well. So when that day comes, if I'm up, I'm up."