INDIANAPOLIS – Tyquan Lewis is not like the other former high draft picks Chris Ballard has made along the defensive line.
Unlike Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu, Lewis nears the end of his rookie contract having shown something of note last season.
Lewis battled injuries in his first two NFL seasons (missing 15 games), but that changed in 2020.
Not only did Lewis play in every game last year, he gave the Colts some versatility and production off the bench.
So much so that when Denico Autry wanted a little more on his contract in free agency, the Colts didn’t feel the urge to stay involved.
Because of a guy like Lewis.
“You saw Tyquan last year, he just really took the step,” defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus says.
Heading into training camp, the 26-year-old Lewis looks like a favorite to start at defensive end. When the passing downs arrive, Lewis can slide inside and give this team an interior rushing option.
In playing behind Autry (7.5 sacks, 9 tackles for loss) last season, Lewis (4 sacks, 8 tackles for loss) provided a nice breather option when called upon.
If Lewis can bump into an Autry-type role, that should earn him a second contract from the Colts.
Lewis, who stands 6-3 and 277 pounds, feels like he plays similar to Autry.
“He’s a tenacious player,” the Ohio State product says of the departing Autry. “He plays fierce and with a chip on his shoulder. I feel like I play the same way. We both have similarities. I feel like I can play inside and out. He’s a great player. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him. I look up to him a lot.”
When you look at an early depth chart of the Colts defensive line, you are quickly reminded of the importance in a guy like Lewis this season.
In a contract year, a healthy Lewis has shown the ability to line up in multiple spots and still be productive.
The Colts really need for the 2020 Lewis to take another step forward.
“This offseason, I think I worked just as hard as last offseason and I want to put it on display again this year,” Lewis says. “Each and every day I want to come out and I want to be the best. Every single day I want to be the best me because nobody is greater than yourself.
“You just have to believe in yourself, but also you have a unit and that unit, we play well together. So, any way I can help this team and help this unit be the best unit that we can be, then I’m going to do it.”