The Colts are already without Dallis Flowers and could be without JuJu Brents, who missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a quad injury, this weekend against the New Orleans Saints.
As the team's depth at outside corner is being tested, the Colts discussed moving Kenny Moore II from the slot to outside corner on a full-time basis – but it doesn't sound like that's a path the team will follow.
"Obviously, Kenny can play outside, but now the inside portion and how valuable he is on the inside – now you're getting him out there in 11 personnel and then at nickel – all the pieces to that," defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. "I'm not going to lie, I think we looked at that. We're still discussing what's the best for the team. I would anticipate him probably playing more inside just because he's so valuable for us there."
Entering Week 8, about 80 percent of Moore's snaps have been in the slot, per Pro Football Focus. That roughly mirrors how much the Colts play nickel or dime (five-plus defensive backs), which is about 76 percent, per NFL research. So when the Colts have two cornerbacks on the field, Moore plays outside; with three cornerbacks on the field, he plays inside.
This isn't new, certainly. But Moore is back to being one of the NFL's top slot corners in 2023, with 46 tackles (most among cornerbacks), seven tackles for a loss (most among cornerbacks) and a 76.6 passer rating when targeted out of the slot (lowest among cornerbacks). Defensive backs coach Ron Milus values not only Moore's ability to cover slot receivers, but his intellect and physicality to make him a force against the run.
"Not a lot of guys in that position can do those things," Milus said. "At the end of the day he's one of the better ones I've been around."
With how much teams use pre-snap motion, Moore often is asked to become the Colts' Will (weakside) linebacker based on how an opposing offense lines up after running a receiver across the formation. And the Colts trust Moore to correctly identify what his run fit is and then play downhill in the B-gap (between a guard and tackle) just like a linebacker would.
Again: Moore leads NFL cornerbacks in tackles and tackles for a loss.
"He's really aggressive," head coach Shane Steichen said. "He's got a great feel – keying, diagnosing the scheme of the offense and seeing what's coming. The way he gets off blocks to go make those plays is really impressive."
The Colts in 2023 are also finding more ways to get Moore involved in the defense, whether it's by blitzing him – he has 1 1/2 sacks – or designing coverages to funnel the ball toward him. So while Moore can certainly play outside corner, the impact he makes in the slot on Bradley's entire defense is significant to a point where the Colts would prefer to keep him there.
View the top photos as the Colts practice at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center preparing to face the Saints on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"He's a playmaker for us," Bradley said. "... I will say this, we have a better understanding of our personnel and to try to position them in position to make plays utilizing their skillset. I think that is a part of it too. We have a better understanding. Kenny (Moore II) has been the same guy. He plays at a high level there. To try to find ways to get him around the ball I think is important, and when we do that, he has a tendency to make big plays for us."
Thursday's practice report: