Edge rusher Tyquan Lewis of the Indianapolis Colts appeared to be on his way to the best game of his NFL career in Week 8 last year. Lewis posted his second full sack of the season and then on the very next snap, recorded the first interception of his career.
But then everything changed in an instant.
Lewis described feeling “slow” during the interception return when talking about the injury to reporters on August 6. Then, “boom, it happened.” Lewis tore his patellar tendon during the interception return.
It’s an injury that’s sometimes described as the worst one for a football player to suffer. Pass catchers Victor Cruz and Jimmy Graham tore a patellar tendon in their knees during the last decade and never returned to being the same dynamic players.
At the very least, a patellar tendon tear typically keeps a football player away from the field at least a year.
But Lewis spent just one day on the PUP list this training camp despite the fact he suffered his knee injury on October 31.
“I couldn’t be any more proud of where I’m at right now,” Lewis told reporters.
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Competing for Playing Time
Lewis has plenty to be proud of in terms of his recovery. Not only is he back at practice, he’s competing for playing time in what could be an elite Colts defense.
But the Colts are searching for depth behind both of those edge rushers. Overcoming the injury, Lewis is emerging as the top edge option for Indianapolis off the bench.
Lewis is also receiving snaps from the inside part of the defensive line. The 27-year-old is relishing any opportunity to prove he is ready to go.
“I’m still versatile. I still run fast. I think I hit 20 miles per hour,” Lewis said. “It’s just fortunate those guys (the other Colts defensive linemen) up there backing me.”
Chris Ballard Wanted Lewis to Return
As if the rehab wasn’t bad enough, Lewis tore his patellar tendon during a contract year. He was recovering from arguably the toughest injury possible for an NFL player and seeking a new contract in the same offseason.
Fortunately for him, landing a new contract end up being easier than the rehab.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard left little doubt that he wanted Lewis to return to the team in 2022. Just days after free agency began, Indianapolis signed Lewis is a 1-year deal worth $2.545 million with $1 million guaranteed.
That contract may have been just the confidence Lewis needed during his rehab.
“I mean it just boosts your morale, knowing that someone has your back through thick and thin,” Lewis said about Ballard’s contract offer. “For him to have my back it just means a lot especially moving forward.
“This team, everyone around me, the chemistry we have as a whole organization just means a lot that people trust me, and they want me to continue to do well.”
Lewis will have to play well this season to earn another contract. Coming into the NFL as a second-round pick during the 2018 NFL Draft, he disappointed through his first two seasons. Then in 2020, Lewis improved, posting 4.0 sacks and 24 combined tackles.
Before the injury, he had 2.5 sacks, 14 combined tackles, 6 quarterback hits and 3 tackles for loss in 8 games last season. He also had 2 pass defenses and an interception.
It doesn’t appear as though his knee will prevent him from filling the stat sheet more this fall.