INDIANAPOLIS — All rookies experience an adjustment of some sort as they make their way from the college game to the NFL.
Whether it’s the pure speed of the game, learning a completely new playbook, moving to a new part of the country — or a mixture of the three, among other factors — being an NFL rookie isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
But for Tyquan Lewis, that early adjustment period could very well be abbreviated.
Not only is Lewis, an Ohio State product, remaining in Midwest, but by virtue of the Colts switching to a 4-3 base defense this offseason, he’ll be playing in almost the exact same scheme he mastered at the college level.
“Same exact defense we ran at Ohio State,” Lewis told reporters in May during the Colts’ rookie minicamp. “It’s pretty easy to get into. All the terminology is still almost the same, so it’s just like second nature.”
And, like he was with the Buckeyes, Lewis will likely be counted on to be productive at multiple spots along the defensive line with the Colts.
While he primarily considers himself an edge rusher, Lewis last year added defensive tackle duties, particularly on third down, to his plate. The result? Three sacks from the inside position.
With the Colts, Lewis has been listed as both a defensive end and a defensive tackle, which seems to be an ideal role for a defensive unit that wants to attack the opposing offense in waves.
“You win up front. You win when you rush. You win with speed and that’s how we’re going to play,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said. “And we’re going to play with waves. We’re going to play with seven, eight defensive linemen and they’re going to play in waves. The defensive line is always going to get the priority with us.”
That’s why the Colts made Lewis one of their four second-round picks in April’s NFL Draft. They saw a player who had plenty of production in one of the best college programs in the nation, but they also saw a prospect who had the quickness to get off the snap and get to the ballcarrier — which are staples of the 4-3.
Lewis’ versatility is just the cherry on top.
“I’m speed to power,” Lewis said when asked to describe his playing style. “My speed is [deceiving]. A lot of guys don’t know how fast I really am until they really play me. Everyone doesn’t really understand, but I mean, I play really, really fast. I’m very powerful. I just love getting after the quarterback. I love playing against the run. I’m a very instinctive player, very smart and I just do everything right. I love being consistent.”
Lewis was seen getting some reps along the defensive line during the Colts’ OTA practices before suffering an unspecified injury that kept him out of the rest of the on-field portion of the offseason workout program.
But if he’s ready to go for the start of training camp practices on July 26, Lewis says he’s prepared to “get out there and compete.”
“I love competing,” Lewis said. “That’s the biggest thing about me. I’m just ready to get started.”