INDIANAPOLIS – While many are understandably hesitant (or scared) to face Quenton Nelson in practice, Isaac Rochell was not one of those in college.
Rochell, in showing off that Notre Dame education, knew who was watching at his college practices and that he would be wise to face the best player on that football field.
“It was always funny, in my senior year and I’m going through this transitional process where I know I’m going to go to the NFL, we have scouts at practice, I used to intentionally go against Q because I knew people loved Q and I’m like, ‘I want to go against Q then,’” Rochell now explains.
Well, Rochell is going to get that option again with the Colts, but it’ll most likely come when it is time for rush packages to be practiced.
At 6-4 and 280 pounds, Rochell considers himself a defensive end, first. When third down arrives though, the newest Colts defensive lineman is prepared to move inside.
“I haven’t done this crazy deep dive into the (Colts) defense, but when you talk about 4-3 defenses, playing a true end, going against tight ends, lining up on tight ends and lining up on the edge against these tackles, the idea that I’m going to need to be running to the ball, be in great shape – all those things, I think I’m a great fit,” Rochell says.
“I’d expect the same thing here – first and second down I’m an end, then I think always on third down, given what I’ve done and what I can do, there is always a chance for me to get bumped inside. There are a lot of options there which I’m excited about.”
Filling a bit of what Denico Autry did for the Colts seems like something that will fall on the shoulders of Rochell, and Tyquan Lewis too. Of course, with Justin Houston still a free agent, there are plenty of snaps open at defensive end.
One clear aspect in Rochell wanting to join the Colts this offseason comes from what he’s heard about the culture in Indy.
Clearly, this was something that was extremely important to Rochell.
“The guys that I know that have played for the Colts, obviously Quenton, Phil Rivers, an absolute legend, Matthias Farley, guys like that—they mentioned the culture,” Rochell explains. “When I talked to Q, the first thing he says is, ‘You’re going to love the locker room. You’re going to love the guys.’ Then Matthias, kind of the same thing. Even though he is with the (Titans) now, same types of conversations.
“I’m just assuming there is a culture that I will mesh with. When I talked to Chris Ballard and other people in the building, he is radiating what the culture is. You talk to him and you’re like, ‘I have a clear picture of what this thing is going to be like, and I love it.’ My assumption is I’m going to get into the locker room, meet the guys, meet all the coaches, meet all the support staff and I’m going to fall in love with the environment.”
And Rochell is even looking forward to seeing No. 56 lined up opposite him in practice, this time at the pro level.
“Back at Notre Dame I used to love competing against him, knew back then even when he was young that he was going to be a great player,” Rochell says of Nelson. “I’m super excited to compete against him again.”