Colts’ second-round pick Dayo Odeyingbo ‘on road to recovery’ from Achilles injury

Sports

Vanderbilt defensive lineman Dayo Odeyingbo (10) knocks the ball loose from the grip of Mississippi quarterback Matt Corral (2) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

INDIANAPOLIS – Chris Ballard doubled up on addressing the Indianapolis Colts’ need at pass rush, but it’s uncertain when his second addition will be able to join the mix.

After investing the 21st overall pick in Thursday’s first round on Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye, Ballard stayed with it. Friday, he used the 22nd pick of round 2 – 54th overall – on Vanderbilt defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo.

The only issue? When will the Colts benefit from Odeyingbo’s physicality and versatility?

The 6-6, 276-pounder tore his Achilles in late January while working out for the Senior Bowl.

“Right now I’m on the road to recovery,’’ Odeyingbo said Friday on a Zoom conference call. “I’m three months in and just kind of working hard to get back as soon as possible.’’

Odeyingbo described the injury as “a freak accident.’’

“Just trying to prepare to do my best out there and just basically planted wrong, took a bad step.’’

It’s difficult to project whether Odeyingbo will be ready for training camp in late July or the September season opener. Rehab could take as long as a year.

“It kind of varies on how an individual goes,’’ he said.

Whenever Odeyingbo is cleared to play, the Colts should reap the benefits of another disruptor along their defensive line.

In 44 games at Vanderbilt, he generated 125 total tackles, 31 tackles for loss,  12 sacks, three passes defensed and one interception. Odeyingbo led Vandy with eight tackles for loss and 5 sacks last season.

He’s listed as a defensive end, but that’s open for discussion.

“I just call myself a defensive lineman,’’ he said. “I play on the defensive line, all across it. So 9-to-0, it doesn’t matter where I need to be.

“I think that’s what adds to be game . . . being able to line up in multiple positions.’’

That would resemble the traits of Denico Autry, one of Ballard’s key free-agent signings in 2018. His versatility enabled coordinator Matt Eberflus to line him up at end on early downs and slide him inside in passing situations.

“I really don’t have a preference,’’ Odeyingbo insisted. “In college I got asked to do everything. I rushed from a 9-technique to a 0-technique and everything in between. I did it pretty consistently at each position.

“I really just like being on the field, being able to be disruptive and get after quarterbacks, get after the ball carrier.’’

As Odeyingbo was talking to the Indy media, his cell phone was blowing up from texts. It’s believed one was from All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.

“I kind of pride myself on being a student of the game and I’ve watched a lot of him film,’’ Odeyingbo said. “I’m just happy to be able to get down there and work with him and work with the other guys, the d-line coach, be able to work with Robert Mathis.’’

As Odeyingbo was waiting for his name to be called, he didn’t expect the call to come from Indy.

“I’m not going to lie, I was pretty surprised by the pick,’’ he said. “I’ve had some contact with the Colts obviously, but I can’t just say they were one of the teams I talked to the most.

“I was honestly surprised.’’

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