Opportunities There For Defensive Linemen To 'Show What They Can Do'

Intro: With Henry Anderson on the PUP list, and with Arthur Jones’ suspension for the first four weeks of the season, Colts Defensive Line Coach Gary Emanuel said the younger players behind them have a chance to step up and earn big minutes early on.

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2016 Colts Training Camp Preview: Defensive LineANDERSON, Ind. — The Indianapolis Colts' current predicament along their defensive line is nothing new.

For seven games last year — nearly half the season — Indianapolis forged on without both Henry Anderson and Arthur Jones available to play due to season-ending injuries.

Facing almost the exact same scenario heading into Wednesday's first day of training camp practices at Anderson University, Defensive Line Coach Gary Emanuel sees the potential for several other players to step up and earn what will likely amount to some meaningful snaps early on in the season.

"It gives other guys opportunities to show what they can do, which they did last year," Emanuel told reporters this week. "So we're in a very similar situation — we didn't have Henry and we didn't have Art for last year, and the guys stepped up and performed. So we're anticipating that for all the guys that are coming up … all the guys have an opportunity to show what they can do."

Last year, Jones missed the entire 2015 season after suffering an ankle injury during the team's third preseason game. Anderson, meanwhile, was putting together a solid rookie season for the Colts when he tore his ACL during Indianapolis' Week 9 victory over the Denver Broncos.

As it stands now, Anderson is still recovering from surgery, and has been placed on the team's Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start training camp. Jones, meanwhile, is nearing 100 percent health, but learned last week he had been suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances.

While Jones, once cleared, can fully participate in all the team's training camp practices and preseason games — and Anderson could be ready to go as soon as Week 1, though it could be a little later than that — it's up to those behind them to once again step up in their absence.

"All I'm going to do is coach the guys in the room and get those guys prepared to play," Emanuel said. "Whoever shows up out there at practice, I'm gonna coach them out and get them ready to play."

Those returning from last season at the defensive tackle position include T.Y. McGill, David Parry (who played nose tackle last season) and Kelcy Quarles, while the team picked Hassan Ridgeway this year in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. First-year defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin will also be in the mix this season.

McGill came on strong towards the end of last season to register three sacks, including two (one of which forcing a safety) in a Week 16 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Parry, meanwhile, had 16 starts at the nose tackle position last season for the Colts, collecting 31 tackles and a sack.

Ridgeway comes to the Colts after a standout last two seasons at Texas, when he appeared in 36 games with 18 starts and totaled 92 tackles, 9.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries (one returned for a touchdown) and one pass defensed, earning First Team All-Big 12 honors by ESPN.com as a senior.

Quarles has played in two career games — in 2014 with the Colts, registering a sack and a pass defensed — and spent last season on the practice squads of the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots and Indianapolis before the Colts signed him to the active roster on Dec. 21.

Lumpkin's NFL experience, meanwhile, dates back to 2011, when he was signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky. Since then, he's played in seven career games with the Cardinals (2012) and Oakland Raiders (2013-14), logging 10 tackles and a sack.

With competition at the position expected to be at a very high level for the next few weeks, Emanuel warned that a flash play here or there is not the only — nor is it the most important — thing the coaches look for from his defensive linemen who are trying to earn a spot.

"How do you catch the coach's eye? It's just by doing your job," Emanuel said. "Whatever that description is: if your job is to hold the gap, play the B gap, play the A gap — whatever it is — just do your job. That's how you pop on film. You know, everybody gets mistaken by a flash play here and there. You know, sometimes as a defensive lineman, you could play a very good game and not be very productive, but you did your job. So it's by doing your job."

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