It’s been a bad week to be a Colts defender, as Indy has had to put two key players on injured reserve this week. We thought we’d take a moment to break down the significance of the season-ending injuries of all-star S Bobb Sanders, starting OLB Tyjuan Hagler and CB Marlin Jackson along with the significant injury suffered by CB Kelvin Hayden.
Sanders is the biggest X-factor for the Colts defense. He is their Troy Polamalu, making plays against the run, rushing the passer, and in coverage. As with Pittsburgh, Indy’s defense loses a dimension when Sanders isn’t in there. This is a huge loss that takes away any scary element of the Colts’ D and makes them far more vulnerable.
Hagler, the Colts’ starting strong-side linebacker, suffered a ruptured biceps that will cost him the rest of the season. This will test the Colts’ depth at a position that wasn’t necessarily deep to begin with. Hagler isn’t a great player, but he has been dependable, ranking seventh on the team in tackles. He’s broken up three passes but has no sacks, interceptions, or forced fumbles. The Colts haven’t gotten many impact plays from regular starting LBs Clint Session and Gary Brackett either. Philip Wheeler, who does actually have a sack this season, will get the first chance to replace Hagler.
Jackson had lost his starting cornerback job to Jerraud Powers, but he still figured in as a nickel back. But he tore an ACL in practice this week and will now miss the rest of the season. That’s a blow, especially since CB Kelvin Hayden suffered a knee injury last week vs. the 49ers that will park him for a month. Hayden is the Colts’ best cover corner, so he’s a big loss. Combine that with Jackson’s absence, and it’s a huge blow, especially considering that the Colts are using a more aggressive scheme that puts more pressure on its corners to perform.
The injuries to Sanders, Hayden, and Jackson undoubtedly will make the Colts more susceptible to the pass, at least in the short term – and the pass defense wasn’t stellar in the first place. (And if you were inclined to pick the Texans to upset the Colts this week, you should feel a little better about that pick, because it’s easy to see Andre Johnson and company running amok in this decimated secondary.)
Indy promoted LB Cody Glenn from the practice squad to take Hagler’s roster spot and signed DE Josh Thomas, who played for the team over the past five years, to fill Jackson’s place on the 53-man roster.