Colts Safety Depth Being Tested Before Training Camp Even Begins

Intro: Already down two potential starters at safety, where will the Colts turn early on in camp at the back end of their defense?

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INDIANAPOLIS –It was the lone bit of good news for the safety position that Chris Ballard was able to deliver on Monday afternoon.

First-round pick Malik Hooker was healthy. He was good to go for the start of Training Camp.

A few hours later that all changed.

Hooker would actually not be making his NFL debut on a practice field this week.

The Ohio State rookie tweaked his hamstring during Monday's rookie conditioning test.

So when the Colts sent out the names on their physically unable to perform list for Training Camp on Tuesday, two starting safeties were on it.

Clayton Geathers will be out until at least mid-October.

The severity of Hooker's "tweak" is unknown, and he can come off the PUP list at any time.

Before Ballard knew the news on Hooker, he had this to say about the early outlook for the safety position in 2017.

"I think having both Malik and (Darius) Butler out there gives you some flexibility on defense to be able to match up versus spread formations."

With Hooker now sidelined for the start of camp, the Colts could continue to go with a combo of Butler and Matthias Farley at safety.

That's how the safety position looked during June's minicamp, with 2016 second-round pick T.J. Green behind Butler and Farley.

"Matthias is going to be in the mix," Ballard said earlier this week. "We have T.J. Green, who we think did some good things in the spring also.

"We will let Hooker grow and get him in the mix as well. Having some kids with coverage skills back there, that always helps you. I've always looked at the safety position as you always put coverage first. Guys that are able to go out and cover No. 2 (wide receivers) and cover tight ends, those guys are very valuable. With Darius' ability to drop down and play man-to-man coverage, and we think Hooker can do some of the same things, is important to us."

It appears, if healthy, a duo of Butler and Hooker will be paired together, giving the Colts some strong coverage ability at safety.

But the "pretty good depth" Ballard talked about for the safety group last month is already being tested before Training Camp has even begun.

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