Skip to main content
Indianapolis Colts

'He's just such an impact player:' Colts' defense boosted by DeForest Buckner's return to practice

Buckner, a 2020 first-team AP All-Pro and 2021 Pro Bowler, has 24 1/2 sacks since joining the Colts three seasons ago. 

PHILADELPHIA – The Colts' dynamic defensive line duo of DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart was back together again in south Philly, where the Colts held a joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex.

Buckner exited a training camp practice on Aug. 3 with a foot injury and hadn't participated in practice since. He quickly made his presence known on Tuesday, though.

"Having Buck out there, knowing he was gonna ruin every third play and just decide that he was gonna end the play because he felt like it – it's always good to have DeForest out there man," linebacker Zaire Franklin said. "It means so much to our team. He's just such an impact player. So, anytime we get him out there it's always a good time."

Buckner's 24 1/2 sacks are the most on the Colts since 2020, when the team acquired him from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a first-round draft pick. He and Stewart have developed into one of the NFL's most effective defensive tackle duos, both as run defenders and pass rushers. In 2022, no defensive tackle duo totaled more tackles for a loss/no gain than Buckner and Stewart's 27, per Pro Football Focus; Buckner's 56 pressures were tied for fifth among defensive linemen last year.

Buckner, too, has been a team captain and an important been-there, done-that veteran voice for the Colts over the last few years.

"It's great to have a guy like that back practicing again," head coach Shane Steichen said. "He just brings that leadership, that competitive nature to the defensive line. It's awesome to have him back."

While the Colts were thrilled to have Buckner back on the field Tuesday, his absence opened the door for a number of players to step in and take important depth-building reps. Franklin pointed to 2022 fifth-round draft pick Eric Johnson II and former third-round pick McTelvin Agim as guys who took advantage of their opportunities over the last few weeks.

And as the Colts look to foster an eight-deep defensive line rotation, those reps – both in practices and games – are valuable ahead of the start of the regular season in a few weeks.

"Obviously, we want Buck to be healthy," Franklin said. "We want him to be out there no matter what, I mean we're always better with him. But obviously him getting the chance to get right gave a chance for the rest of the depth to kind of get some work in."

Related Content

2024 Season Tickets - Now Available!

2024 Season Tickets - Now Available!

Season Tickets for the 2024 Season are available now! Get access to the best seating locations, best pricing, and best benefits as a Colts Season Ticket Member!