Taylor Stallworth has now played as many games in the NFL – 43 – as he played in college.
He had one sack in 43 games for South Carolina. In his first 41 games as a pro, he had 1 1/2 sacks.
But over the Colts' last two games, Stallworth has three sacks. All of a sudden, the 6-foot-2, 305 pound defensive tackle has been a menace to opposing quarterbacks and offensive lines. Over the last two weeks, only four players (Jeffrey Simmons, Micah Parsons, Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt) have more sacks than Stallworth.
It's not just the sacks, too – he has three additional quarterback hits over the last two weeks against the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets.
Not bad for a guy who's been known in football circles mostly for his skill defending the run over the last four years.
"Think about this, I was always classified as a run stopper, run stopper," Stallworth said. "Okay, you just a run stopper. Now I trimmed down, I showed I can do both and just getting back there — not even just getting the sack but you can show that you can hit the quarterback, it's a confidence booster. Like, boom, I could do it, let's see if I could do it again. Right now I'm just at the time of okay, can I consistently do it. That's what I'm working for now."
Stallworth, as he mentioned, is playing leaner this year and spent the offseason training with DeForest Buckner, observing and taking notes on a guy he described as "one of the premier three-techs in the league." And he picked up some things along the way on what Buckner does to be one of the best players at his position that he's now applying to getting after opposing quarterbacks.
"Getting three sacks in two weeks, that's big time," Buckner said. "To his credit, he's been working his tail off — started from the offseason trimming down in weight, they really brought him in to be a run stopper and he's really showing the coaches what he can do pass rush wise."
Initially, Stallworth bought into being siloed off as a run stopper. And he's still having success in that part of his game – he had two run stops against the Jaguars, per Pro Football Focus – but is proving to himself he's much more than that label.
"At first I was like, yeah, I'm just a run stopper, but now I'm like, I can actually rush," he said, laughing. "Like I can actually move. I can really pressure the quarterback. I fed in to it at first but now I'm like, nah. I ain't just about to put that title on me like that."
*Wednesday's practice report *