Tarell Basham Vinny Curry Jersey Buccaneers , Jabaal Sheard and John Simon spent the offseason brushing up on the nuances of playing defensive end.
They worked on quick first steps, honing their swim and spin moves and, of course, getting re-acclimated with the three-point stance.
All three played the spot in college, left school with conference defensive player of the year awards, moved to linebacker in the NFL and now find themselves back in their old spots as the Indianapolis Colts make the switch from the 3-4 defensive front to the more traditional 4-3.
It's certainly taken some getting used to.
"When you're at linebacker, you think a lot more," said Simon, a six-year veteran who hasn't played defensive end since leaving Ohio State. "You have to communicate a lot more and your vision has to open up a little bit. Here, with your hand in the dirt, it's a little more attack-oriented. Don't worry so much about what they're doing, just get up field and be disruptive."
It sounds simple and that's by design.
But it may be the quickest fix to one of the Colts' biggest flaws 鈥?a lagging pass rush.
New defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus inherited a unit that produced only 25 sacks last season, second-worst in the league, and only 93 over the past three years.
The consensus among Eberflus, coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard was to bring back the defense Tony Dungy popularized in Tampa Bay and relied on as the Colts made their Super Bowl-winning run following the 2006 season.
So far, the transition has been relatively smooth as the first week of training camp draws to a close.
"It's an adjustment," Eberflus said. "It's always about trying to put the best people on the field. Like I said Texans Keke Coutee Jersey , you get your athletic, speed players out there and we'll find those guys."
Basham could be part of the solution.
Indy selected the former Ohio star and sack specialist in the third round of the 2017 draft and immediately plugged him at linebacker. Basham made slow, steady progress throughout the season but never really felt comfortable.
Since the switch back, the 6-foot-4, 266-pound Basham looks leaner, stronger and sounds more confident.
"After the draft last year, things were just like going every which way, trying to get settled, trying to establish a role on the team, trying to learn this whole new position that I've never played before in my career ever, really, besides high school 鈥?which doesn't count," he said. "It was hectic for me last year, trying to find where I fit into the team and on the defense."
The older guys seem to have embraced the transition, too.
At 6-2, 260 pounds, Simon appears undersized against some of the mammoth-sized offensive linemen. But he has impressed Eberflus during the first three days of training camp in Westfield Ryan McLeod Oilers Jersey , Indiana, a northern suburb of Indy, especially Saturday when the Colts practiced in pads for the first time.
"I would say in the limited time we've seen him in pads, I think his effort is good and he's a really smart player," Eberflus said.
Sheard has had a different experience.
He played his first two NFL seasons with Cleveland at end then moved to linebacker for the next two years. Indy signed Sheard in March 2017 to be a rush linebacker but now believe he's a better fit on the defensive line where he's getting some help from pass rushing consultant Robert Mathis, the Colts' career sacks leader and master of the spin move.
"You're getting after the quarterback and getting after the running back," Sheard said, explaining the philosophical principle Eberflus has adopted. "For me, it's the consistency of defense in football."
The first real test of the new system comes Aug. 9 at Seattle, but the Colts may not get their first real grades until the regular season opener Sept. 9 against Cincinnati.
But Eberflus is convinced his simpler system will work with the players he already has.
"It's always rush and cover," Eberflus said. "You always want to build it on rush and cover for sure. When you have four guys humming, the ball comes out fast and then your athletic, speed players affect the pass."
Notes: Andrew Luck worked out for the first half of practice before leaving the field. He was not scheduled to practice Saturday but is expected to throw in pads for the first time Sunday night. ... Defensive ends Anthony Johnson and Denico Autry both received medical attention on the field Saturday but were able to finish practice. ... Offensive lineman Jack Mewhort was one of several players who did not practice Saturday.
Roughly 20 seconds into his introductory news conference as coach of the New York Giants, Pat Shurmur ran into his problem.
The lights went out in the auditorium where he was speaking.
Like everyone else in the packed room, the former offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings laughed, and then handled the situation without missing a beat.
”And we’re off,” Shurmur quipped. ”We have to keep adjusting. Anyway Tre'Quan Smith Jersey Elite , I was going to tell a joke, so I’ll stop.”
Speaking and answering questions for more than 25 minutes after being introduced by co-owner John Mara, Shurmur was poised, funny and open, thanking his mother in Michigan for teaching him to be competitive, compassionate and not allowing anyone to tell him you can’t do something.
Shurmur faces a major task in taking over a team that went 3-13 after making the playoffs in 2016. The injury-ravaged Giants slipped so quickly that Ben McAdoo was fired in early December after less than two years on the job.
”There’s a lot of work to be done,” Shurmur said. ”There are changes that need to be made.”
One thing that seemingly won’t change is the Giants’ starting quarterback. Shurmur is looking forward to working with Eli Manning and he believes the 37-year-old two-time Super Bowl winner still has years ahead of him.
The 52-year-old agrees with new general manager Dave Gettleman that winning starts up front, and he is determined to build a good offensive line to go along with a talented defensive line.
”There are basic truths and basic facts that don’t change and you have to do,” Gettleman said. ”You have to run the ball, you have to stop the run, and you have to rush the passer. Pat and I completely agree on that. The other thing is that big men allow you to compete.”
As the Giants struggled last season, there were rifts in the locker room. Three players were suspended for a week for conduct detrimental to the organization.
Shurmur wants to get to know his players, particularly superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr., joking it makes sense to throw him the ball. He added everyone will start with a clean sheet.
This will be Shurmur’s second head coaching job, and he says he is a lot more knowledgeable now than when he ran the Cleveland Browns in 2011-12.
”Those who do know me know I have zero tolerance for people who don’t compete,” Shurmur said. ”I have zero tolerance for those who do not give effort and I have zero tolerance for people who don’t show or lack respect.”
Shurmur has already started assembling his staff. Former Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher will be his defensive coordinator.
The status of the offensive coordinator is uncertain. Shurmur intends to call his own plays on an offense that will have a West Coast influence, but also one that seeks to run the ball.
”We’re going to do what we can to get better each day Authentic Jerome Baker Jersey ,” Shurmur said. ”How fast that happens? I’m as impatient as the next fan, but we’re going to try to get better each day.
”As I mentioned we have a lot of really good players on this team. We’re going to get some new ones and we’re going to try to put together a team that can go out next year and win games.”
The Giants, who have made the playoffs only once since 2011, interviewed five other coaching candidates, including interim coach and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Shurmur was the clear choice, the co-owners said.
”After the season like we had, we needed someone who was ”an adult,” who is professional and who has a certain demeanor to walk in there and start to straighten things out,” Mara said. ”I think he had all the qualities. Time will tell.”
Co-owner Steve Tisch believes the Giants will be patient in the rebuilding process, but he thinks Shurmur will hit the ground running. He was impressed with the way the new coach walked through the building Thursday and introduced himself to everyone.
”The evidence is there this is a mature, responsible, passionate leader,” Tisch said. ”I can’t wait for the players to meet him and him to put a new staff together. It’s a new day and it’s very exciting.”
Mara, who has taken part in his share of coaching searches, said Shurmur had as good an interview as he has experienced. Tisch added he felt an almost instant chemistry talking with him.