Tyquan Lewis anticipating emotional debut with Colts; Robert Turbin waived
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The date has been circled on Tyquan Lewis’ calendar.
Nov. 11. Jacksonville Jaguars. Lucas Oil Stadium.
As the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie defensive lineman worked his way back from a foot injury suffered during training camp, he was motivated by the memory of his great-grandmother.
Her birthday: Nov. 11.
“Sunday is my great-grandmother’s birthday,’’ Lewis said Friday. “She passed away back in 2014. I told myself I’d love to be back by then.
“I’d just love to play that game, just play for her and just play with everything I’ve got just for her.’’
After spending the first nine weeks of the season on the injured reserve list, Lewis finds himself on the active roster. He was designated to return from IR and began practicing with the team two weeks ago, and is poised to make his season debut against the Jaguars.
“He brings energy,’’ Frank Reich said of one of the team’s four second-round draft picks. “He’s physical, active. He just brings some juice and he brings position versatility.’’
It’s uncertain whether Lewis will be on a pitch count Sunday, but he’ll most certainly be inspired.
“I’m just really excited to get back on the field,’’ he said. “It’s an emotional moment.’’
Lewis doesn’t carry any type of memento into a game, but the memory of his great grandmother always is within reach. Her picture is the background on his cell phone.
“She’s just always there,’’ said Lewis, a four-year standout at Ohio State. “I remember the exact day when it happened. It was the day after Christmas and we’re about to go play Alabama, about to go to a national championship (game). That was probably the worst three months of my life.
“Now I’m on this big stage and things are coming to life for me.’’
Safety Malik Hooker has seen Lewis’ potential up close. They were teammates at Ohio State.
“He’s a hell of a player,’’ Hooker said. “He’s a playmaker. He’s just ready to get out there and compete.
“I know what he brings to the table. I know he’s going to go out there and be the player that he is and the player we need him to be. I saw him do it in college. I know he’s going to be a great player for us.’’
Lewis’ addition to the active roster was just one of several Friday moves. One was something of a surprise.
Veteran running back Robert Turbin was waived. He had been an effective situational player since 2016, excelling at third-and short and goal-line situations.
This season, however, has been filled with frustrations. Turbin missed the first four games while serving an NFL-imposed suspension for violating its performance-enhancing drugs policy, and suffered a shoulder injury against the New York Jets.
Turbin’s release reinforces the reality the coaching staff is confident with its running back threesome of Marlon Mack and rookies Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins.
The team also waived rookie wide receiver Steve Ishmael and signed rookie Skai Moore to the active roster from the practice squad.
Lewis isn’t the only Colt who has been eyeing Sunday’s Jacksonville meeting with more than casual interest.
It was 13 months ago, against the Jaguars, that Hooker saw his rookie season end. The 2017 first-round draft pick suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and damage to the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the second quarter of the Oct. 22 game. While chasing Allen Hurns down the left sideline on what would be a 50-yard completion, Hooker absorbed an awkward blindside block from rookie wideout Keelan Cole.
“This is definitely a game I’ve been thinking about since I got hurt last year,’’ Hooker said. “This is the game I got hurt. For me to be back in this position, to go out there and play again, is a big moment.’’
Hooker has been working his way back to 100 percent. He insisted he tries not to dwell on the injury, but at times that’s not realistic.
“I don’t really think about it too much unless you guys bring it up or I go get treatment and see the scar on my knee,’’ he said. “I really don’t pay attention to it.’’
Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus indicated Hooker’s return has been a work in progress.
“You could certainly see it in the first games where . . . he (felt) that he was a little bit behind in terms of just coming back from his injury,’’ he said. “You could see that in terms of his range and all those things.
“But the last couple of days he has done an outstanding job. He’s moving around. He feels good. He’s practicing with speed and tempo. If he continues to do that, good things will happen in the game.’’
Before suffering the season-ending knee injury, Hooker had a team-high three interceptions in seven games.
This season, he started the first seven games and missed the Oakland game with a hip injury. Hooker has 27 tackles, one interception and two passes defensed.
Reich ruled three players out of Sunday’s game: safety Mike Mitchell (calf) and tight ends Ryan Hewitt (ankle) and Erik Swoope (knee).