Colts Former High Draft Pick Receiving Heavy Workload at Training Camp

Frank Reich

Getty Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich is seeing one of the team's former high draft picks play a lot of snaps during training camp.

General manager Chris Ballard of the Indianapolis Colts identified backup roles at defensive tackle one of the key positive battles going into training camp. A leader in that battle may be beginning to emerge.

That would be defensive lineman Dayo Odeyingbo. Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley didn’t mention him by name, but Bradley did say the 22-year-old is receiving a heavy workload in terms of snaps during training camp.

And during training camp, Bradley is seeing lots of players in different situations such as Odeyingbo lining up inside.

“I think sometimes it’s personnel placement. Looking at these guys, putting them in different positions to see how they fit,” Bradley told reporters on August 4. “And remember we’re trying to go eight, we’re doing everything we can to find eight guys. That fourth-quarter rush as I mentioned before is so critical in this game.

“So, to find out guys, where they can be in certain situations, how we can play them to keep the whole group fresh.”

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Odeyingbo Emerging as a Rotational Defensive Lineman?

The starting lineup along the defensive line for the Colts could be among the best in the league this season. DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart have been forces in the middle of the Indianapolis defensive front for the last couple years.

Bradley expects that to continue, helping his system, designed around not blitzing often, to flourish.

“Both him (DeForest Buckner) and Grove (Grover Stewart) on the inside, they know each other, they know how to play off each other,” Bradley said. “The mindset I think for Buck (DeForest Buckner) understanding it and then passing it on to Grove, what it should look like, it’s been good.”

On the edge, the Colts added Yannick Ngakoue, who has at least 8.0 sacks in the last six seasons. Playing opposite Ngakoue, 2021 first-round pick Kwity Paye is expected to have a breakout year.

But Odeyingbo, Indianapolis’ 2021 second-round selection, and players like him will determine if the defensive line is a completely group with eight guys deep.

Odeyingbo played 27% of the team’s defensive snaps during the 10 games in which he was active last season. In those 10 contests, he posted 6 combined tackles, 1 quarterback hit, 0.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble.

His playing time increased last December and appears to be rising again this training camp.

What Odeyingbo Brings for the Colts

Going into the 2021 NFL Draft, NFL analyst Lance Zierlein of wrote Odeyingbo “will require patience” and that the “runway required to blend and simmer Odeyingbo’s enticing ingredients” became longer because of an injury. Odeyingbo tore his Achilles before playing in the 2021 Senior Bowl.

Despite the injury, the Colts drafted Odeyingbo in the second round. Zierlein projected the Vanderbilt edge rusher to be a third or fourth-round pick.

In light of Zierlein’s draft profile on Odeyingbo, it’s acceptable to view his rookie season as a bit of a redshirt year. The Colts didn’t activate the edge rusher, removing him from the Non-Football Injury List, until October 30.

Under Bradley this August, Odeyingbo is not only getting a chance to participate in his first NFL training camp, but to play all along the defensive line. If he proves to be able to play inside, he could be the answer to Ballard’s depth concerns at defensive tackle.

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