INDIANAPOLIS — In his two years with the Indianapolis Colts, Zach Kerr has displayed an ability to take advantage of the opportunities given to him to make plays along the defensive line.
As an undrafted rookie out of Delaware in 2014, Kerr played in 12 games for the AFC South champs, collecting 21 tackles, including the first three sacks of his career.
Last year, Kerr — playing in 12 games again — started the first four contests of his career down the stretch for Indianapolis. He increased his total tackles by more than 33 percent, finishing with 28 stops on the year while also adding two tackles for loss and a pass defensed.
Kerr certainly has built the foundation of a solid career at nose tackle, but knows the work is far from over to get to where he wants to be as a playmaker. As he enters his third year in the league in 2016, there's several factors keeping this Virginia Beach, Va., native motivated for even more success moving forward.
"Every year you gotta come in and compete," Kerr told Colts.com. "I know that we've got some talented guys in our defensive line room, and I know when it comes to that time where we've gotta make those decisions, it's gonna be a hard one for everyone in the room, including the staff — and we're gonna make it hard on them."
Kerr certainly isn't stretching the truth by any means. If all players are healthy, the Colts could boast one of the deeper defensive lines in the entire league in 2016:
- Arthur Jones and Henry Anderson, each of whom missed the second half of the 2015 season due to injuries, are bonafide starters up front, yet both aren't expected to fully recover and return to practice until training camp at the earliest.
- Kendall Langford is a solid defender up front, and is yet to miss a game in eight NFL seasons. He's a key piece to the puzzle, especially when others are injured.
- David Parry started every game last season at the nose tackle position as a rookie, so, for now, you can likely pencil him in as the starter in 2016. He had 31 tackles, including a sack and four total tackles for loss in 2015.
- Guys like Kerr, and T.Y. McGill, meanwhile, are younger pieces that have certainly displayed flashes of what they can do. McGill had three sacks down the stretch as a rookie last year. Then there's Hassan Ridgeway, an exciting fourth-round draft pick this year who had 17.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks his last two seasons at Texas.
- Kelcy Quarles, Sterling Bailey and Delvon Simmons round out the group of defensive linemen hoping to earn a spot this season.
During OTAs, Kerr has set several personal goals for himself to continue to stay sharp when his number is called. He believes one can never work too much on your technique (or "polishing the little things," as he calls it).
A behind the scenes look at Kerr's 2016 photo shoot in the #ColtsPhotoGarage
"You know, it's easy to kind of get away from those things when you're not playing with pads on and it allows you to get a little bit sloppy with your technique, so you kind of gotta focus on it because there's a lot of things that we can't do right now," Kerr said. "You know — can't do any 1-on-1s, can't do stuff like that — so I'm just trying to polish my technique, do everything in my power to get better as a player."
Then, when this week's mandatory minicamp wraps up, the Colts will have about a month and a half off before reporting to training camp at Anderson University.
Between now and then, despite not being required to be at the team's facility, Kerr said he's not going to be taking it easy by any means.
"What I want to get done is I want to tone up more, kind of drop some fat off my body — not really lose so much weight, but lose a little bit of weight, tone up a little bit, cut some of the bad weight so my body can work more efficient," said Kerr, who registered at 6 foot 2, 334 pounds last season. "I'm just trying to come in and be the best that I can be, weight-wise, football-wise, technique, character: the whole nine (yards)."