WESTFIELD, Ind. — Late in the second quarter of the Indianapolis Colts' preseason opener Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks, running back Christine Michael took the handoff from quarterback Jacoby Brissett and looked for an opening to his right.
Then, like a blur, big No. 56 sprinted by, ready to attack.
Pulling all the way from the left side of the line, Quenton Nelson zeroed in on his target, Akeem King, and delivered a punishing blow to the Seahawks cornerback, completely taking him out of the play.
With everything sealed off to his left, and with a huge hole in front of him, Michael was able to sprint ahead for a big 11-yard gain, getting the Colts to the Seattle 23-yard line with just less than two minutes remaining in the half.
Four plays later — which included a sack for a loss of eight yards — kicker Adam Vinatieri knocked in a 45-yard field goal to put the Colts up 9-7 heading into halftime.
The run play by Michael is a perfect example of why the Colts were so ecstatic to select Nelson with the sixth-overall pick in April's NFL Draft. Considered by many to be one of the best offensive linemen to come out of the college game in years, Nelson's best attribute is his ability to pull block in the run game — which he showed off late in the first half against the Seahawks.
Colts head coach Frank Reich was impressed by Nelson in his NFL debut, and said Nelson's ability to pull was clearly evident when he watched the game film on Friday morning.
"We've all talked about how good of a puller he is and how efficient he is there," Reich told reporters Friday in a conference call. "He did a great job when he was pulling."
Nelson, in all, played 33 offensive snaps against the Seahawks, and also was in to block on three Vinatieri field goals.
Like any other rookie, Nelson, who started at left guard, had plenty of teaching moments in Thursday's game, too. According to Pro Football Focus: "Quenton Nelson looked a bit shaky in pass protection, losing two pass reps to backup Seattle defensive lineman Joey Ivie to allow pressure. Although he was inconsistent in pass protection, he was as advertised as a run blocker, delivering some nice blocks."
But, overall, the Colts are pleased with what they saw out of their first-round pick in his NFL debut.
"Quenton looked good," Reich said. "(He) certainly showed that he belongs where we picked him. Flashes of the strength and technique and power."