Defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo set a goal to play in 2021 when the Colts selected him him in the second round (54th overall) in this year's NFL Draft.
Odeyingbo, who suffered an Achilles' injury training for the Senior Bowl in January, took a big step this week toward making his NFL debut: He started practicing.
The 6-foot-6, 276 pound Odeyingbo is still getting mentally adjusted to playing again on his surgically-repaired Achilles, especially when it comes to taking on blocks and making tackles. But he felt like Wednesday's practice was a positive step and that things are trending well as he works his way toward playing his first game for the Colts.
Before this week, Odeyingbo stayed locked in by focusing on taking mental reps during walkthroughs and practices, and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said he did a good job staying engaged during position meetings.
"I feel like he's one of those guys where you tell him hey, on this play you have this job, if the motion happens this is that, you have to check to this on a certain drop or whatever and he's on it," Buckner said. "And coach likes to ask him questions in meetings to keep him engaged because obviously he's been out for so long. And when he asks him questions, he answers them right away. So it just shows how mentally locked in he's been and we've been seeing the work he's been putting in to get back on the field and I'm excited to see what he's able to do today."
The Colts on Wednesday opened a three-week window during which they can activate Odeyingbo off the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list; he is eligible to be activated from NFI at any point in that window (previously, players on NFI had to miss a minimum of eight games, but that was reduced to six starting this season).
"I want to get out there as soon as possible," Odeyingbo said. "Obviously the trainers and coaches want to be smart with it and I do too so we're not going to rush anything but when I feel ready and they feel like I'm ready, I'll be out there."
Colts React To Julian Blackmon Injury
The Colts announced Thursday morning safety Julian Blackmon suffered a torn Achilles' during Wednesday's practice. Linebacker Darius Leonard offered his thoughts on the loss of Blackmon on Thursday.
"That's a huge loss," Leonard said. "A guy who was playing at a very high level this season, someone who does everything right. No matter what you ask him, he's doing it. He's always come in with a smile on his face, never complained about anything and for him to go down in practice the way that it did, that sucks. I hated it for him. It'll be a tough loss for our defense because there's nobody who ballhawks like he does.
"... For a freak accident like that to happen in practice, nobody wants to get hurt in practice. If you do get hurt, you want to get hurt in a game, leave it out on the field. That's what sucks. Hopefully just talking to him he's in good spirits and he comes back even stronger, even better and continues to be that ballhawk that he is."
Thursday's practice report