INDIANAPOLIS —In a season in which the Indianapolis Colts have already been besieged by injuries across the board, arguably no position group has embodied head coach Chuck Pagano's age-old mantra, "Next man up," more than the cornerbacks.
After various injuries to members of the secondary — most notably top cornerback Vontae Davis (groin) – pressed second-year defensive back T.J. Green (Week 1) and rookie corner Quincy Wilson (Week 2) into the starting lineup in consecutive weeks, Week 3 provided an opportunity for yet another new face: Pierre Desir.
And Desir was up to the challenge in the Colts' 31-28 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Desir is a journeyman player with solid experience at the NFL. He was drafted by the Browns in the fourth round of the 2014 draft and played in 19 games (seven starts) in two seasons with Cleveland. Over the past year, he also saw action with the San Diego Chargers (five games) and spent time on the Seattle Seahawks' roster.
And while Rashaan Melvin, the one mainstay at the corner spot for the Colts through three weeks, rightly got the headlines over the weekend after snagging two key interceptions against the Browns, Desir certainly held his own on the other side, as well.
He contributed to a secondary that frustrated rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, holding him to less than 50 percent on his pass attempts (22-of-47), recording three interceptions and tallying 10 pass breakups. Individually, Desir registered five tackles (four solo) and one pass defensed.
It was a strong performance for any new starter, but the fact that Desir has only been with the team for three weeks (signed Sept. 3) made it all the more impressive.
"(Melvin's) been great and Pierre coming in and playing the way he played yesterday, it was unbelievable," Pagano said on Monday.
Despite being on the roster for less than a month, Desir has been ready for this moment, preparing like a starter day in and day out.
"That's just my approach every week from being in the league for a while," Desir said after the game on Sunday. "Just always prepare like you're a starter and whenever your number gets called, you just go in there and execute."
It's easier said than done, though, as the new guy on the roster, and Desir acknowledged the difficulty of learning a new defensive system in a short period of time. He credited defensive backs coach Greg Williams and defensive quality control coach Jeff Popovich for helping him get up to speed.
"Coach Williams and Popovich, they really put in the extra time to make sure I knew the playbook," Desir said. "And that goes for my teammates as well - just giving me the insight on what they know about the defense. It's tough going in trying to learn a new defense, but when you have so much help and great support with the team and the coaches, it's easy."