INDIANAPOLIS —Perhaps no unit has been more consistent throughout the 2017 season for the Indianapolis Colts than the defensive line.
That group saw a tremendous amount of turnover from a season before, as general manager Chris Ballard went out and signed three key free agents — Johnathan Hankins, Al Woods and Margus Hunt — each of whom have contributed in their own way to the unit's success so far.
Their leader, defensive line coach Gary Emanuel, this week had a bye week chat with reporters. Here are three takeaways from that session:
• Emanuel is pleased with the overall group effort defensively when it's come to stopping the run this season:"Well the biggest thing that I always talk to the guys about is everybody is doing their job. And it takes all 11 guys. It's not just the defensive line – it takes the linebackers and the secondary to cover run support. It takes everybody to do their job. Just everybody being in the right gaps and be where they are supposed to be and then play. That helps to stop the run."• Hankins has brought over a certain degree of toughness the defensive line needed:**
"Well first of all he's a great person and he's a great man. He loves football. He has a very high football IQ. He's as tough as they come. He's big, he's stout. He has a mindset that he wants to do well and wants to stop the run."• Woods, meanwhile, like Hankins, has bought into his role at nose tackle and is playing it extremely well:
"Al is very similar to Johnathan Hankins. He's a big man. He's a great person. He loves football, has a great personality, great locker room guy and a great teammate. He works hard. They take pride in what they do. They understand the importance of stopping the run. If you can make a team one-dimensional you usually have a better chance. They really have bought into doing their job. Doing the dirty work – we've talked about you can play a whole game and not make many plays but you still play well. A lot of people are hung up on stats and everything, but I can find double teams and taking on blockers. They're really enjoying it. They both enjoy the grimy part of the job."