Colts defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is entering Week 12 with 6 1/2 sacks this season, and he's recorded at least a half-sack in each of his last five games.
That's put Ngakoue in striking distance of joining a group of top-class pass rushers in NFL history. Ngakoue needs 1 1/2 sacks over the final six games of the season to have eight in 2022 – which would give him at least eight sacks in each of his first seven seasons in the NFL.
He'd be the seventh player in NFL history to accomplish that feat, along with:
- Aaron Donald (2014-2020)
- DeMarcus Ware (2005-2011)
- Derrick Thomas (1989-1995)
- Reggie White (1985-1991)
- Al Baker (1987-1984)
- Cedrick Hardman (1970-1976)
"I think a lot of it has to do with just having faith in God and I'm a big believer of Him. Also, just being able to not be complacent and not always thinking that you have it," Ngakoue said. "There are always things that you can work on each and every offseason. I just try not to fall off – the greats don't fall off, they always keep working. You know what I mean? They never let themselves get out of shape. Also just being able to be with great teammates – these guys are playing great football on the defensive side of the ball that I'm a part of and it's allowing me to be able to make plays."
Ngakoue's impact on the Colts' defense has gone beyond sacks, too. In defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's 4-3 defensive front, the defensive ends need to be strong in setting the edge to allow the defensive tackles to make plays against the run – as Grover Stewart and DeForest Buckner have done with remarkable consistency. The Colts' defense enters Week 12 allowing the second-lowest yards per carry average (3.8) in the NFL, which has been the product of collectively outstanding play by the defensive line and linebacking corps.
"I've seen him really grow through the year," Bradley said. "He's really working hard at it. He's taking extra reps in practice. Last week – because he's had like a veteran's day off health wise, but last week he came out and practiced and felt like he needed to get a good practice in on Wednesday. So, it's good to see that his hard work is coming to fruition some and he's becoming a more well-rounded player versus the run, versus the pass."
Friday's practice report: