Colts Have Found Something In New Defensive Lineman Denico Autry
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INDIANAPOLIS – It’s rare to see someone beat Quenton Nelson, like Halley’s Comet rare, but it has happened at Grand Park.
And Denico Autry has been the guy accomplishing the uncommon feat.
Chris Ballard warned those before camp started that Autry, the 6-5 and 270-pound defensive lineman who signed a 3-year deal with the Colts earlier this offseason, was a player to watch.
That has held true with Autry being a disruptive player at defensive tackle (3-technique) so far in camp.
“Denico is a very impressive player,” Nelson, who is often matched up opposite Autry, says. “He can be really slippery. He can be really powerful, too. He’s really good at when he loses leverage, re-gaining it. He can be powerful as well as shifty.
“He provides a great challenge for me. I really enjoy going against him in practice.”
In 1-on-1 drills, Autry vs. Nelson is a must watch.
When the Colts signed Autry back in March, there was an unknown of just how the 27-year-old would project into the new 4-man front.
In Oakland, Autry had made 18 starts in 4 seasons and was mainly used as a situational rusher.
But the Colts thought he had starting/3-down potential in Indianapolis. And that definitely is the case after watching Autry operate as a full-time defensive tackle in camp.
With the Colts having some depth at defensive end, it made sense to try Autry out in the interior, to see if the 270-pounder could hold up on those early downs.
“He played a little bit inside before, mostly on passing downs, so we threw him in there on some run downs and he fits really good in there,” defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus says. “He also looks good at (defensive) end. So we’re still looking at combinations. He’s a versatile guy with a great attitude and a great spirit about him in terms of his playing ability.”
Autry’s 5.0 sacks in starting just 3 games last season is something the Colts projected forward in their new defense.
Early on, the returns look good as Autry could very well be this team’s most productive and versatile player in their changing front.
And the GM tried to warn us.
“Autry is the name to watch,” Ballard said before camp started. “He’s a legitimate defensive lineman. He’s long, strong, passionate. I’m really excited to watch him play. He’s made up of all the right stuff.”