Following the Colts decision to waive former All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard after six seasons, it created an opportunity for Ronnie Harrison to show case his growth at a new position.
A 2018 third round pick in the NFL Draft who'd spent his entire pro career as a safety until this summer, in his first game with the Colts, Harrison had a pass deflection and an interception. It was the sixth pick of his career.
"First of all, [he's a] ballhawk," linebacker Zaire Franklin said. "That guy's done it and he's not a rookie. He's played and made plays at this level, so I already knew he was capable. I told Ronnie from the beginning, I said, 'Look man, when you're out here with me I got your back no matter what. Just trust yourself and go get it.'
"He saw I had the receiver, and he made a play on the ball - that was a hell of a play. And honestly, he popped it off. He's the one who got the whole energy rolling on defense today."
To make the moment sweeter, it came just two plays after a tribute to Leonard was played on the big screens inside of the stadium.
"It was the biggest game of the year for me," Harrison said. "All eyes were on the linebackers after what happened last week, so I just wanted to come back and contribute any way I could."
Though Harrison had been practicing at linebacker for the past two and a half months, he'd been on the Colts' practice squad for the first 11 weeks of the season.
"After training camp, they [the Colts] moved me to WILL linebacker and the transition's been smooth," Harrison said. "It's kind of like safety a little bit. We're doing the same type of stuff, but just not at the same position. So, I'm still able to be effective like I would be at safety, so I like it."
However, with the departure of Leonard, it created a space for Harrison on the 53-man roster. Though Harrison had yet to play a down at this new position, Speed said he wasn't worried about it.
"He's a six-year vet in this league, so I don't think a new position or anything like that is something we should be worried about with him," linebacker EJ Speed said. "He's very comfortable on a football field and played at a high level in college and in the NFL in Cleveland."
Speed and the rest of the defense's confidence in Harrison proved warranted as he proved his prowess in Sunday's 27-20 win. Looking forward to showing how his experience as a defensive back can translate in his new role, Harrison said he is at his best when defending the pass.
"I'm definitely good in the pass game for sure as a linebacker," Harrison said. "Just being able to see the routes and formations, being able to adjust, knowing where the safety would be helps out a lot playing linebacker."