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"Time Is Now" For Young Colts Defensive Linemen

Intro: In the search for a more consistent run defense in 2015, the Colts need to see some emergence from their young linemen.





INDIANAPOLIS – No notes were needed for Jim Irsay.

These numbers were vivid in his brain.

"It's concerning, obviously, when you have 657 (rushing) yards in three games (versus New England)," Irsay said at last week's Annual League Meetings.

"It's something Chuck wants to fix and the defense wants to fix because coming from that Ravens defense, the first thing we talked about is, 'Hey, the first thing we do is stop the run and then we get after the passer.' We've done a good job of stopping the run at times, there's no question. It's just that we have to get better and more consistent, I believe."

Trying to achieve a more consistent run defense product throughout a 16-game season includes several parties.

While Colts coaches and the starting front seven (especially a healthy Arthur Jones) will be the headliners of those groups, the help includes players that might send the casual fan to their game program to look up.

Defensive line rotations are constant throughout the course of an NFL game, meaning the depth up front is crucial.

At last week's League Meetings in Arizona, Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson elaborated on three different linemen who could see expanded roles in 2015.

  • Montori Hughes: In his second NFL season last year, Hughes saw a greater role in 12 games. He was mostly used as a reserve nose tackle in 2014 with Josh Chapman. "The time is now," for Hughes, who enters his third NFL season as a 6-4, 350-pound lineman with the physical attributes to see significant reps in 2015.
  • Zach Kerr: An undrafted free agent in 2014, Kerr was a definite bright spot last season. He recorded three sacks in 12 games and his production was "eye popping at times." Kerr has the versatility to play multiple spots up front.
  • Kelcy Quarles: At 294 pounds, Quarles is a guy "that can really run" for a defensive lineman. He played just two games in 2014, spending most of his rookie season (undrafted) either inactive or on the Colts practice squad.

With the departures of Cory Redding and Ricky Jean Francois in the trenches, it's the names above (and a possible addition, or two, in the draft) who could very well be called upon to compile a better run defense in 2015.

"We have guys that are big, athletic guys that can run, but they've got to develop and they have to come through," Grigson said of the young linemen. "I don't think they have a choice. None of us have a choice.

"They have to be (ready)."

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