WESTFIELD, Ind. – For the time being, the Indianapolis Colts’ defense must progress without the services of one of its more reliable players.
Jabaal Sheard recently underwent a procedure on one of his knees that will keep the veteran end out of training camp for an undetermined amount of time. Sheard was on the field for the first practice July 25, but has not been available since due to swelling in the knee.
The Colts were back at work at Grand Park Sports Campus Monday in preparation for Thursday’s preseason opener at Buffalo. They open the regular season Sept. 8 against the Chargers in Los Angeles.
Sheard has been a defensive mainstay since signing a three-year, $25.5 million contract in 2017. He’s started all 34 games, including the playoffs, and his productivity has matched his durability: 92 tackles, including 23 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Sheard also was the Colts’ nominee for the NFL’s 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Matt Eberflus inherited Sheard when he replaced Ted Monachino as coordinator last year, and quickly grew to appreciate Sheard’s extensive impact with the defense.
“What I found out about Jabaal is he’s a worker and he’s a true pro,’’ Eberflus said Monday afternoon. “The leadership that he brings to the defensive line room is just tremendous; his work ethic, and I’m talking about the day-to-day grind.
“I don’t think the guy missed practice. He didn’t miss a game. The guy was in there all the time. He’s a consummate pro.’’
Until Sheard returns, Al-Quadin Muhammad’s workload with the No. 1 defense has greatly expanded. Rookie Ben Banogu normally would get meaningful reps, but he’s missed time with a hamstring injury.
On occasion, the coaching staff has adjusted to Sheard’s absence by moving tackle Margus Hunt to end. He’s been effective inside and outside the past two seasons, but was projected to focus on tackle this season.
Wideout Steve Ishmael was unable to finish practice after going down and being treated by trainers during drills. The extent of his injury wasn’t immediately known. Coach Frank Reich normally addresses injuries after practice, but Monday was not a scheduled day for Reich to meet with the media.
And be sure to catch the Colts Bluezone Podcast: