Bright Future Surfacing in Colts Secondary
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INDIANAPOLIS – In going back and analyzing Malik Hooker’s first career interception, it’s hard to pinpoint any flaw.
The range, the ball recognition, the actual interception and then the return were all boxes Hooker successfully checked.
But he forgot one thing, according to fellow corner Vontae Davis.
When Hooker returned to the sideline, the ball was nowhere to be found.
That’s a keepsake you have to hold onto.
“Don’t ever leave your first ball.” Davis reminded Hooker.
No worries for Hooker.
Veteran corner Rashaan Melvin went back and got that football, and made sure the team’s 2017 first-round pick had the first of what many expect to be quite a few interceptions in the professional game.
Hooker’s second-quarter pick of Arizona’s Carson Palmer was the highlight for a three-man rookie group in the secondary that all made their own individual impacts.
“Those guys played their tails off for three rookies,” Pagano said of the Hooker, Quincy Wilson, Nate Hairston grouping that started and played the vast majority of snaps in Week Two.
“It’s not too big for them. A lot of guys go through the offseason program and you’re in shorts the whole time. You can see a lot of guys do a lot of great things in shorts, and that’s how the offseason is. Training camp and preseason, you’re out there, and sometimes when the lights come on and it’s for real, you don’t see the same thing. And we didn’t see any of that with these guys. It wasn’t too big for them. They went out and competed their butts off. Again, there were some mistakes that were made. We knew there was going to be some mistakes made, but they did a nice job. It wasn’t too big for them, and they’re going to just keep getting better and getting better and getting better with experience.”
The future is certainly very bright for what the Colts are hoping to build at the back end of their defense.
— Quincy Wilson (@dc_wilson954) September 18, 2017
It starts with Hooker. The 15th overall pick last April showed that rare range in reading Palmer’s eyes and bringing in his first interception.
The interception for Hooker was made possible thanks to Quincy Wilson having tremendous outside coverage on wide receiver J.J. Nelson. From the shorter/immediate routes, to the deeper portions of the field, Wilson passed the test in his first NFL start. It’s taken some time for the coaching staff to completely trust the 21-year-old Wilson, but Sunday was a strong indicator of the second-round pick having the pedigree to being an eventual No. 1 corner.
Hooker and Wilson were expected to be early contributors as rookies. But fifth-round pick Nate Hairston was more of an unknown. With just two years of corner experience at the collegiate level, Hairston barely played any nickel corner at Temple, but that’s the position he’s starting at here in Indianapolis. A blitzing sack from Hairston last Sunday is an example of how the coaching staff views their new nickel corner.
From the sideline, Vontae Davis and Darius Butler, the two main veterans in the secondary, both were extremely impressed by how the rooks performed.
The future is now in the Colts’ secondary.
And that’s a good thing.
“It gave us a lot of confidence that we’re capable of going out there and communicating amongst ourselves without having a vet guy back there,” Hooker said of last Sunday.
“So for us, I feel like this is just the next step, so now it’s more so building off of this one and getting ready for next week.”
Here is Thursday’s injury report:
DNP: RB-Frank Gore (rest), QB-Andrew Luck (right shoulder), C-Ryan Kelly (foot), RB-Marlon Mack (shoulder), RG-Jack Mewhort (rest), WR-Chester Rogers (hamstring), CB-Quincy Wilson (knee)
-Bowen’s Analysis: Chuck Pagano said on Wednesday that Luck will not practice all week. Pagano said Luck and Kelly are getting closer to practicing though. With Luck missing another week of practice, it’s starting to look like he might not return until Week Five at the earliest. It’s never a great thing to see a guy like Mack go from limited on Wednesday, to a DNP on Thursday. Mack battled a shoulder injury during the preseason. Speaking of pre-season injuries, a knee ailment is what kept Wilson out of some August action. It is not known if this is the same knee for the second-round pick. Nonetheless, Wilson missing Wednesday and Thursday is not good news for his availability this week.
LIMITED: WR-Kamar Aiken (hip), S-Darius Butler (hamstring), CB-Vontae Davis (groin), CB-Chris Milton (hamstring
-Bowen’s Analysis: Butler and Davis have been limited the first two days of practice this week as they try to return to the field. Davis has now practiced three straight days after being sidelined for nearly a month.
FULL: OLB-Tarell Basham (heat exhaustion), ILB-Antonio Morrison (elbow), TE-Brandon Williams (calf)
-Bowen’s Analysis: Morrison missed last week’s loss to the Cardinals.