INDIANAPOLIS – By Quenton Nelson’s own admission, he definitely did not reach his normal standard of play last season.
Nelson said as much, after he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fifth straight season to start his NFL career.
“I’m not supper happy with it,” was how Nelson described his individual play late last season.
Per Pro Football Focus, Nelson gave up 30 pressures and 5 sacks last season.
This came after Nelson had inked a 4-year, $80 million extension with the Colts just before the start of the 2022 campaign (that extension kicks in to start the 2023 season).
Nelson now enters his 6th NFL season dealing with several firsts.
It’s the first time he’s playing under a different head coach than Frank Reich.
It’s the first time he’s had a different offensive line coach since his second NFL season.
And it’s the first time he enters a season coming off a year in which he (again, admittedly) underperformed.
This spring though, Nelson sounded pretty upbeat in describing the change in position coaches impacting his own game.
Tony Sparano Jr. is the new OL coach in Indy, walking into a room that performed as a group way below the necessary expectations.
Nelson enjoyed the early impressions of Sparano Jr.’s teaching.
“He’s great,” Nelson said of Sparano Jr. this spring. “You can tell he cares about all the guys in the room. He’s a funny guy too, which is awesome to have in the o-line room – build some camaraderie there. Just the way he’s been coaching has been really good and really good for me. I feel like I’m getting better in phase one, voluntary mini-camp and now phase two. It’s been really good.
“Just the technique that he’s teaching, the detail that he has in teaching it. Then when going over specific coaching points, nothing is like passed over, glossed over. Everything is very detail-oriented and explained really well to where you know exactly what he wants and exactly how to do it.”
To hear Nelson describe some of the changes needed from last season, it certainly has more of an ‘away from the gridiron’ feel to it.
Veteran center Ryan Kelly routinely used the word ‘miscommunication’ to describe the O-line issues from last season.
Nelson also points to more of the non-football technique aspects to playing a specific offensive line position.
“Working every day and hanging out with each other outside the building, building that chemistry and getting to know each other really well, and being close really off the field,” Nelson says when asked what the focus had been for the offensive line in the spring.
“I think that brings closeness on the field. We’ve been working on that this offseason. We’ve been getting really good lifts together, treatment together and, of course, practice together.”
In his 5-year NFL career, Nelson has set an incredibly high standard, a Canton-like one, for his own play.
But the Colts are also paying for him to routinely be at that level.
Will Nelson get back there in 2023?
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