INDIANAPOLIS – What Parris Campbell is to the Colts offense, Kemoko Turay is to the Colts defense.
In three NFL seasons, Turay has played in 25 games, and missed 23 games.
During the biggest regular season win of the Chris Ballard/Frank Reich era, it was Turay being a difference maker on Sunday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs.
On the final play of that October 2019 road upset victory, Turay fractured and dislocated his right ankle.
He’s never been the same player since.
Turay has had multiple surgeries to try and get back to the player we saw in primetime.
His time on the field has been limited to just 7 games since the injury, without a sack or QB hit in 6 of those games.
As Turay heads into a massive 4th NFL season, he does so having come off another surgery (needed to strengthen the posterior tendon in his injured ankle), which has him targeted to return sometime before training camp, and it also has uncertainty regarding his future in a contract year.
The Colts remain high on Turay returning to health and giving this team something they’ve longed for at defensive end.
“I’m expecting to see great things out of him this year,” Chris Ballard says.
Ballard takes blame for Turay trying to play on his injured ankle last season.
With a loose chip in Turay’s right ankle, the Colts are hoping that surgery early this offseason will be the final one that finally get their former 2nd round pick back to being a speed and bending presence off the edge.
Even though the Colts remain optimistic about Turay, some skepticism is obviously there based off how they handled this year’s draft.
If healthy, Turay is still best used as a third-down rusher (6.5 sacks and 21 QB hits in 25 career games), and doesn’t offer a whole lot on early downs, facing the run.
Turay doesn’t think he was rushed back in 2020, but the lack of production he had last season is quite evident that he was not his normal self.
When you talk about players on the Colts that can greatly increase the team’s chances to get on a run this year, Turay is certainly near the top of the list.
Individually, it’s also so critical for Turay to stay healthy and produce, as he looks for a second contract.
The Colts were pleased with how Turay handled himself in meetings this spring, and that appears to be a priority of his, too.
“Just staying a lot more focused,” Turay says about his mindset entering Year 4. “Focused on my ankle, focused on everything around – paying attention to the details of what’s going on during OTAs, getting closer with the boys. Control what I can control on my side on and off the field – asking questions about things I need help with.
“Just being a student of the game until I come back.”
When Turay does return, he will be looking for full clearance and the Colts hope that leads to a defensive unit finally having that unique rusher they’ve been hoping for.