The Indianapolis Colts have struggled in the middle of their defensive line, both against the run and in putting pressure on the quarterback by limiting the pocket. The return to practice of rookie fifth round pick Josh Chapman could bring some welcome relief to a position beset by injuries.
At 6'0" and 316 pounds, Chapman has the physical stature of the prototypical 304 nose tackle. In the mold of Pittsburgh's Casey Hampton and Baltimore's Haloti Ngata, the Colts have high hopes that Chapman can anchor the defensive line for years to come.
Chapman was drafted out of Alabama this year and slid to the fifth round because he was coming off knee surgery performed after last season's title run for the Crimson Tide. Chapman played with a torn ACL and meniscus from Oct. 1 onward save for one game where he sat out. His ability to disrupt opposing offenses by clogging the middle and collapsing the pocket was a major reason for Alabama's success. Chapman was part of two national championship teams at Alabama and was part of a unit that led the nation in total defense last season.
Antonio Johnson has been anchoring the nose tackle position, but his main backup, Martin Tevaseu, has been sidelined with injuries forcing the Colts to bring in Antonio Dixon to spell Johnson. Other injuries to Cory Redding and Fili Moala have affected both the depth and effectiveness of the defensive line. If the Colts could get more consistent play from that group, it would free up their linebacking corps to make more explosive plays.
The Colts will have up to three weeks from today to elevate Chapman to the 53-man active roster or he will remain on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury List for the rest of the season.
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