INDIANAPOLIS — After being one of the NFL's most effective pass rushers in 2017, is there room for Indianapolis Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard to grow even more in 2018? General manager Chris Ballard thinks so.
"I think Jabaal Sheard is an ideal fit," Ballard said. "I think Jabaal Sheard will take off in this defense. Jabaal is a good football player."
The fit Ballard speaks of is that of a defensive end rather than the outside linebacker position that Sheard played so well in his first season with the Colts last year. Not to worry, though; Sheard has played quite a bit with his hand in the dirt in his career.
According to Pro Football Reference, Sheard has played four seasons of his career primarily at 4-3 defense end and the other three at 3-4 outside linebacker. So, he's got experience doing basically anything the Colts will ask of him this year.
Coming off arguably his best season as a pro — registering 4.2 quarterback pressures per game and 5.5 total sacks — Sheard is now going to be in a position most conducive to rushing the passer.
Sheard gave an interesting answer when asked about his comfort level in the new defense. Rather than simply saying he's looking forward to getting after the quarterback, Sheard expressed his desire to learn more about the scheme and football in general.
"It's relatively just learning more and more about football," he said. "You get your hand in the dirt, you're getting after the quarterback and getting after the running back. For me, it's the consistency of defense in football. I'm still doing that in general. The only thing to me throughout the year is just learning more and more about football and what I'm seeing on the other side of the ball and what to expect."
Been there, done that as far as Sheard is concerned. It's time to see the bigger picture that is the entire field.
And from the sounds of it, Sheard was planning to use his summer break to begin doing just that, by absorbing the film and making sure he hits the ground running when the Colts begin training camp practices on July 26.
"You get some time off to where you really get to study and break down your film that you just did these last few weeks," he said. "And then we come back in camp and do it all over again, but hopefully you're better."