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INDIANAPOLIS – “It is time.”
Chris Ballard knows it.
The 2018 season is the 3rd in the NFL for T.J. Green.
Ever since the Colts took Green near the end of the 2nd round in 2016, those associated with the team have gushed about the incredible athletic traits of the defensive back.
But the production on the field has lacked.
Green’s impact plays in 31 career games (11 starts) have more often been negative ones, aiding the opposing team.
At the age of 22, Green is still incredibly young.
However, the opportunities and now entering Year 3 of a four-year rookie contract means that Green’s time is indeed now in Indianapolis.
“This is a big year for the kid and he knows it,” Ballard says of Green. “I think we often forget, T.J. was 20 years old when he came into the league. He was a young player and he’s still young, 22 years old now. It will be interesting to see if we can get him into just one position, let him compete, let him play fast.”
That one position will be safety after Green’s sudden experiment at corner at the start of last season was short lived.
Green actually started 6 games at safety in 2017.
With injuries abundant at the back end of the Colts’ defense last year, Green started nearly half of the season, but played only 35 percent of the team’s defensive snaps—a very small number for a starting member of the secondary.
When trying to project last year’s defensive personnel into this new scheme, Green is actually one of the few players with desirable traits.
Speed and athleticism is really needed in 2018, but Green’s past ability to translate that come Sunday has been lacking.
Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers are the expected starters at safety, with returning starter Matthias Farley also in the mix back there.
So will there be enough opportunity for Green to possibly show himself?
There is right now with Geathers and Hooker sidelined this spring, meaning Green is getting starting reps alongside Farley.
“The one thing I do know about T.J. is he can really run and he’s aggressive,” Ballard says. “It’s just now getting him plugged into one position and letting him get better at one position.”
No more corner experiement for Green (which Ballard admits was the GM’s idea, not the coaching staff’s at the start of last season).
Green is a safety, and knows the second half of his rookie contract is here without any definite answers to his NFL future.
“There ain’t no time to waste,” Green says. “This is a business league. You have to perform.
“I want to be the guy. It’s Year Three for me. I’m focused. I have a family to take care of and a daughter to take care of. I’m just here to work.”