INDIANAPOLIS – At two critical positions this season—quarterback and cornerback—-the Colts committed to a serious youth movement.
That always meant a healthy Brents would be in an ideal position to find early playing time.
Brents is hoping the third is the charm for a second rounder cornerback chosen by Chris Ballard to work out in Indy. Quincy Wilson didn’t, as he was traded away for a 6th round pick before the final year of his rookie contract. Rock Ya-Sin was better than Wilson, but the Colts still decided to move on from him in the off-season before the last year of his own rookie deal.
So the bar for Brents to clear isn’t too high when you compare him to other high Ballard draft picks at corner.
If the third time is indeed the charm, Brents would be a really important puzzle piece moving forward.
For a player who missed more offseason work than any other Colts defender, JuJu Brents is now getting quite the baptism by fire.
A benching of Darrell Baker Jr. and a season-ending injury to Dallis Flowers sandwiched Brents finally stringing some necessary practice time tighter.
That’s brought Brents into a position that will be invaluable to his NFL career. It also means opponents are going to pepper him with targets.
After being a healthy scratch in the first two weeks of the season, Brents has now made 3 starts, logging snap counts of 96 percent, 100 percent, 94 percent, in those 3 appearances.
Understandably, it hasn’t been perfect with Brents, but there’s been flashes of why the Colts took him 44th overall in April’s Draft.
At 6-3 and 198 pounds, Brents has brought physicality to the cornerback position. He’s been competitive in trying to get his hands on the ball, including a huge forced fumble in his NFL debut vs. the Ravens.
You don’t observe timidness in watching Brents play outside cornerback.
“I like his tenacity,” Shane Steichen says of the Warren Central High School product. “I love the way he fights, the way he plays man coverage. He’s a strong, longer guy that competes at the top of routes and I just love his energy.”
Short-term growing pains for long-term gain is the hope here for Brents and the Colts.
Trevor Lawrence pointed out after Sunday’s win that a poor coverage technique from Brents was something the quarterback had observed on film and the Jaguars used that to their benefit in Christian Kirk’s long touchdown catch in the 2nd quarter.
Playing cornerback, especially as a rookie, will inevitably lead to moments like this.
But Brents still had other more encouraging moments in facing one of the best the best QB/WR combinations he’ll see all year long.
Fresh out of a Monday meeting recapping the Jaguars game, Kenny Moore said they were discussing life as young cornerback in the NFL.
“It’s definitely not easy being a rookie in this league at cornerback,” Moore shared on Monday. “You’re trying to take in everything that the coaches are trying to provide for you. You’re trying to take in all the technique. Obviously going out there and holding your own all game.
“We ask a lot of JuJu and I think he’s coming along very good. He has two takeaways now into his rookie year. Through the second half of (Sunday), however good or bad that he’s had, he ended the game with those two PBUs (pass breakups) and the takeaway. Just being able to see him grow, winning and losing, it’s pretty good to see him compete. As a football player, as an athlete, you just want to be consistent as possible. We are what we repeatedly do so I think he’s coming along great.
“He brings a great mentality to the group, and we just want to keep that on the roll.”
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