INDIANAPOLIS – It’s a far cry from Rock Ya-Sin’s rookie season, when he played the most snaps of any Colts defender.
Year Three in the NFL is here for Ya-Sin and while most peg that as a critical time for rookies to emerge, the former 34th overall pick is competing for playing time.
Xavier Rhodes and Kenny Moore are locks atop the cornerback depth chart.
In that 3rd CB role—an extremely valuable player in any team’s nickel package—veteran T.J. Carrie exited 2020 as the guy there and it appears that’s the case again heading into training camp.
If Ya-Sin wants that job, he’s going to have to win it back.
“We know we have Kenny, we have Xav, but who is going to be the third guy?” Matt Eberflus asks. “There is competition there.”
Ya-Sin was benched late last season, as the secondary had some struggles.
Cornerbacks coach Jonathan Gannon left in the offseason to becomes Nick Sirianni’s defensive coordinator in Philadelphia.
New corners coach James Rowe had some specific things laid out for Ya-Sin when the corner returned to Indy this spring.
“One of the main things that we are probably going to work on the most is hand placement,” Rowe says of Ya-Sin. “Sometimes he gets his hands a little high on wide receivers, causing them to tug a couple times. That’s something we can correct. And then just getting used to playing the ball better. And feeling more comfortable out there.
“I think he has all the ability in the world. I think he’s going to be really good in this league. You face tough wide receivers. It’s tough out there. It’s a tough position.”
That last part from Rowe is something Chris Ballard mentions often when evaluating Ya-Sin’s NFL career.
While playing corner is certainly difficult, Ya-Sin is also at a big-time crossroads.
Not only is he competing for playing time, the Colts also have a couple of intriguing corners near him on the depth chart in draft picks Marvell Tell returning in 2021 and Isaiah Rodgers now a year into the league.
Given the 31-year-old age, and contract years, for Rhodes and Carrie when Week 1 arrives, the Colts could really use Ya-Sin changing the trajectory of where his career has gone the last two seasons.
“Rock is a good young talent, and I think with anybody coming to the NFL there is a process of growth and I think he is going through his process right now,” Rowe says. “But he has a lot of attributes that I am looking forward to coach and getting the most out of him. I think he has a bright future in the NFL.”
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