INDIANAPOLIS — The word "twitchy" is often applied to the genetic freaks in football; the ones who seem to have something extra in them that allows them to maneuver around the field in such a way that they can make plays others can't.
It's a word that's been used to describe Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle T.Y. McGill.
At first glance, McGill — at 6-foot, 310 pounds — might not look the part. But the second-year North Carolina State product has already made believers out of his fellow defensive linemen.
"He's real quick off the ball, real quick to change directions and has a good nose for the ball, too," defensive tackle David Parry said.
"He gets off the ball really well and just as that playmaking ability you look for," defensive tackle Henry Anderson said. "He just has a natural ability to pass rush (that) you can't really teach. He just finds a way to beat the guy he's lined up on."
McGill was one of the standouts of the Colts' training camp practices the past few weeks at Anderson University — his pick-six early in camp practices was certainly a defensive highlight — but that's no surprise to head coach Chuck Pagano.
Pagano thinks McGill has "picked up right where he left off" to end last season, when he finished his rookie campaign with three sacks in the final two games of the year, which included a safety on quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the Colts' Week 16 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
"He's a twitchy, explosive, quick-type player," Pagano said of McGill, using that word again. "He's tough to block when he is on the move, he gets penetration, he's slippery and he is a little bit sneaky when it comes to pass rush."
Pagano said McGill is one of those types of players who "always shows up on the stat sheet," which was evident last Saturday night in the Colts' preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills.
McGill played 43 snaps — the third-most on the defense — in Indianapolis' 19-18 victory (as well as four additional snaps on special teams), and was credited with three total tackles, including one for a loss, as well as a pass defensed.
"Typically, those interior guys don't show up as much as he does, so he's playing well," Pagano said Monday. "He's a smart football player, he's active and he's explosive."
McGill's rise comes at the ideal time for the Colts' defensive line. The team has been without its top three defensive linemen — Anderson, Arthur Jones and Kendall Langford — for an extended period of time, and will need guys like McGill, Zach Kerr, Parry, 2016 draft pick Hassan Ridgeway and others to step up their games to fill the voids.
"You never want to see a teammate go down but it's just part of the game. Injuries are part of the game," McGill said. "Next man up is always what coach preaches, so we go in and we work hard every day just so when the opportunity presents itself you are ready to take on that opportunity."
With Anderson (recovering from torn ACL suffered last November) believed to be out for the start of the regular season, Langford out another projected two to three weeks with a knee injury and Jones suspended the first four games of the regular season, McGill knows he has a golden opportunity in front of him.
But he's not about to give himself any added pressure.
"I just go out and take every day one day at a time just to get better every day," McGill said. "I do everything that's asked of me from the coaches to my teammates."
Sound simple? It is. But it's music to the ears of defensive line coach Gary Emanuel.
"With T.Y. McGill — with all the guys in camp — they all just have to keep getting better at what they're doing, keep improving what they're doing each day," Emanuel said. "You know, improve against the run and improve (at) rushing the passer. I mean, those are the things that we do. Just continuously do your job, which they are continually evaluated on that."