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INDIANAPOLIS – You do not need to hear Chris Ballard’s words to understand what he thinks of Tyquan Lewis.
You already know that Ballard is a fan, after seeing the GM trade back into the second round of the 2018 Draft to take Lewis 64th overall.
Ballard is not an active trader up (he’s done it twice in his 21 rounds as running drafts for the Colts), so he clearly had an affinity for Lewis.
But after a disappointing 2019 season for Lewis, the Colts want more.
When Ballard met with Lewis at the end of the 2019 campaign, he left the Ohio State product with this message:
“I told Tyquan, (2020) is a big year for him. We’re going to expect him to come in and really show what we think his talent level is.”
As the 25-year-old Lewis heads into his third NFL season, the Colts still haven’t narrowed down his best fit along the defensive line.
The staff entered last season thinking Lewis would compete with Denico Autry at the three-technique defensive tackle spot.
However, that never matriculated, with Lewis battling an ankle injury in camp.
Ballard now says the Colts need for Lewis to continue to be flexible, after playing mostly defensive end as a rookie, to mostly defensive tackle in 2019.
“We’ve got a lot of guys at defensive end, and then at defensive tackle we had some guys in there playing, and he was at a point where he wasn’t even active because he was coming off the injury,” Ballard said of Lewis.
“We see him as a guy who can play both at end and inside, and he’s got to be able to give that to us.”
Lewis played in 9 games (0 starts) this past year. He had a very underwhelming number of 5 tackles (1 for loss) in 225 defensive snaps.
Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus was pleased late in 2019 with how Lewis was finishing the season, after again battling injuries at the start of year.
“I think that has certainly hindered his progress at some point like it does with anybody who has (an) injury,” Eberflus says. “Where I like where he is that he’s starting to play the run the right way. He’s starting to really improve on that area. We’ve been focusing on that with him and he’s buying into that. I think he could be a really good run player in time, if he keeps working and then also transitioning into the pass player we know he can be too.
“So he’s a work in progress like all second-year players are and he’s working in the right direction.”
The Colts are looking for more production at the position they believe Lewis is best suited for—three-technique.
Toss Lewis into the group of Colts needing a big 2020 campaign.