INDIANAPOLIS – Isaiah Rodgers Sr.’s immediate and long-term future with the Indianapolis Colts represents a possible hit to a position that seems ill-equipped to deal with it.
Cornerback was an area of concern even before the NFL began investigating Rodgers for possibly violating its gambling policy.
Losing their 2020 sixth-round draft pick for any length of time would represent a significant setback. It’s conceivable the league’s punishment would be an indefinite suspension.
Rodgers used his Twitter account Monday evening to address his situation. He took “full responsibility’’ for his actions, adding “I know I have made mistakes and I am willing to do whatever it takes to repair the situation.’’
Rodgers, 25, has started 10 games in his first three seasons, including nine in 2022. He’s also been one of the Colts’ premier return men.
He was projected as a likely starter in his fourth season, perhaps alongside rookie JuJu Brents with veteran Kenny Moore II concentrating on his usual nickel role.
Now? In this instance, next man up isn’t an enticing approach.
Excluding Rodgers, four of the other nine corners on the roster are rookies. Here’s a breakdown on the other five’s experience:
*Moore: 87 games, 74 starts in six seasons. He’s the unquestioned leader of the room, and intent on fashioning a bounce-back year.
*Dallis Flowers: 13 games with one start as an undrafted rookie last season.
*Tony Brown: 49 games with four starts with five teams in five seasons. He appeared in 16 games with the Colts last year and primarily was a core special teams contributor. Brown was on the field for just nine defensive snaps and 303 on special teams.
*Kevin Tolliver II: 29 games with two starts in three seasons. He has not appeared in a regular season game since a two-game stint with Denver in 2020.
*Darrell Baker Jr.: Three games with zero starts with the Colts last season. All 31 of his snaps came on special teams.
General manager Chris Ballard and his personnel staff reinforced the cornerbacks room at a historic level in the April draft. For the first time since the Colts’ relocation in 1984, they invested three of their 12 picks in corners: Brents (round 2), Darius Rush (round 5) and Jaylon Jones (round 7).
“We wanted to add competition to that position in which I think we were able to do,’’ Ballard said after the draft. “The room is going to look a little different with these guys added.’’
That was assured prior to the draft. Ballard traded Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys and Brandon Facyson signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Not only are Brents, Rush and Jones new to the group, they bring the type of size the Colts covet at the position. Brents is 6-3 while Rush and Jones are 6-2.
It was clear the Colts were going to lean on their young corners this season, especially Brents.
“There are not a lot of guys 6-3 playing corner in the league, but he is really a good athlete,’’ Ballard said of the Warren Central High School product. “He’s a really good fit for what we want to do because he’s a press corner. We want to play a little more press coverage.
“We think he’s going to be really good at it. He’s got some unique traits. We think he’s a good fit for the defense.’’
Brents’ offseason development has been slowed as he’s missed all of the on-field work while recovering from wrist surgery. He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp in late July.
Rush’s college-to-pros transition might be accelerated with Rodgers’ situation.
The prevailing question: Does Ballard look to the free-agent market for a veteran presence?
Options include Casey Heyward, Marcus Peters, Cameron Dantzler, Byron Jones, William Jackson III, Fabian Moreau and Anthony Averett.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.