Justin Houston Gives Colts Rare Depth Along Defensive Line

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Justin Houston Gives Colts Rare Depth Along Defensive Line

In the signing of Justin Houston, the Colts have upgraded their biggest need and continue to turn the defensive line into one of the deeper position groups on the roster.

Zach Bolinger | Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – In case you forgot, let Chris Ballard remind you of what he’s been saying about roster building.

“I’ve said it over and over again, we are going to continue to build our fronts, we are going to continue to build our fronts,” Ballard said last Thursday, just hours before backing up that statement with his most noteworthy free agency move to date.

Justin Houston is not just any other body being added to the Colts defensive front.

In signing Houston to a two-year deal, the Colts have a defensive lineman that must garner pre-game attention from an opposing offense. That luxury is not something the Colts have had off the edge, to the degree of a Houston and his sack history, since Robert Mathis in 2013.

Even with Houston on the back nine of his career, he showed late last year he’s got some pretty good game left in him.

And just knowing that Houston is coming off one edge is going to allow the Colts depth across the line to attack some very favorable matchups.

Let’s say the Colts use this starting defensive line in the fall (and we all know that this team should/will add to this group in next month’s draft):

  • DE-Jabaal Sheard
  • DT-Denico Autry
  • DT-Tyquan Lewis
  • DE-Justin Houston

In the interior, you have reserves in Margus Hunt, Grover Stewart, Hassan Ridgeway and Jihad Ward.


Off the edge, you have Kemoko Turay and Al-Quadin Muhammad.


Matt Eberflus has to be loving the sub package possibilities with this group.


The Colts have also expressed to Houston, 30, that he’s going to be used primarily as a pass rusher, so maybe that means some extra snaps for Hunt or Muhammad on the rushing downs, with Lewis also one of several versatile bodies up front.


And, again, this current makeup doesn’t include a possible high draft pick to help the long-term outlook of the defensive line (or even a Shane Ray?).


Besides Ridgeway, all the of the names listed above are Ballard acquisitions from his three seasons as general manager.


Last Thursday, a few hours before making the Houston deal official, Ballard gave his thoughts on the most effective pass rush.


“To me, at the end of the day, you want to do it with four (guys), but until you get that four right and get a dominant right end and a couple really dominant players on the front, you do it as a group,” the GM said.


And, in Houston, the Colts have the closest thing to a dominant right end in quite some time.

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