Colts Starting DE Moala and Rookie NT Chapman Placed on IR; Replaced By DL Heard and S Howell

Due to unfortunate injury situations, the Colts have placed starting defensive end Fili Moala and rookie 5th-rounder nose guard Josh Chapman on the injured-reserve list. Due to these injuries, as well as others sustained in the Buffalo Bills’ game last week, the Colts have signed free agent defensive lineman Kellen Heard and poached undrafted rookie safety Delano Howell off of the Bills’ practice squad.

As we’ll discuss further, there are injuries to starters and key backups that seem to have made these signings necessary.

For Moala, this is really bad timing as he’ll be a free agent at the end of this season but likely to still be rehabbing from an ACL tear. These injuries typically take a full 10-12 months to recover from, so we at Colts Authority wish him the smoothest recovery. It’s also bad timing for the Colts because Fili, for maybe the first time in his career, was playing lots and playing well. Having played in a 3-4 at USC as a senior, Moala was perhaps always a bad fit for the Colts’ old defensive Tampa-2 scheme. He flashed both pass-rush and run-stuffing skill, but was too inconsistent for any avid fan to really get too excited about.

I’ll always remember having such high hopes for the guy because he was finally the “big” 300-lb-plus DT all of us had been screaming at the Polians to draft. It took a few years and a new regime, but Fili seemed to have turned a corner. Now, he’s likely soon to go under the knife for a major surgery.

It will be interesting to see if the Colts bring Moala back. I wouldn’t bet against it, but it will likely come far into his rehab, probably closer to training camp, possibly even later. In that case, they might actually be able to sign him back at a reduced rate than they would have had he hit the open free agent market and been injury-free. But I digress, that chapter of his career has yet to be written.

Good luck Fili.

As for Josh Chapman, the Colts are likely doing the prudent thing here by shelving the former National Champion Alabama starting nose tackle. The man just had his ACL surgery in January, so he really was a bit ahead of schedule and according to interim head coach Bruce Arians he’d experienced some pain and discomfort since he began practicing a few weeks ago.

Chapman’s upside is so high that the internet memes are rivaling things said about Chuck Norris in the mid-2000s. Our own Greg Cowan has even declared a new holiday (Chapmas) for his arrival on the field in speed blue. I feel it’s safe to bet that day will still come, but it’s in all likelihood going to come in 2013 as he’s now ineligible to play the rest of the season.

Come back strong for the offseason Josh!

In 3rd-year DL Kellen Heard (6’6”, 339lbs) the Colts have one massive dude. Gone are the days of the under-sized defensive lineman, friends. Doing some quick, elementary math I discovered that the current average listed weight of a Colts defensive lineman is over 317lbs. I clarify listed because most of these players tend to be heavier than what their bio says. Heard spent 8 games with the St. Louis Rams earlier this year and was waived after a dubious unspecified violation of team rules. The Rams were also getting healthy along their defensive line, so it’s unclear just how bad his judgment was when he violated whatever team rule he did.

Regardless, Heard does have some experience playing in a 3-4 having played in 15 games for the Bills last season. It’s also worth noting that either Ryan Grigson or DL coach Gary Emmanuel have done a very solid job, in my opinion, getting guys ready to contribute along the D-line when we’ve needed them this season. With back-up NT Martin Tevaseu dealing with a head/shoulder injury, he could be forced to take some snaps this weekend against the Detroit Lions.

The Colts brought in rookie safety Delano Howell (5’11”, 210lbs) by signing him away from the Bills’ practice squad. Howell has bounced from the Bills’ active roster and practice squad all season and has played special teams in games this year. He’ll rejoin his former teammates Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener and Griff Whalen as a part of a rookie class full of Stanford alums. A three year starting strong safety, Howell was awarded All-PAC-12 First Team last year as a senior. He does also have experience as a kick returner, so it will be interesting to see what role he has on special teams.

Howell’s signing was likely in response to starting SS Tom Zbikowski injuring his shin last week. Arians said that S Joe Lefeged would likely get the nod if Zibby can’t play and he’s played such a major role on special teams that another safety was necessary for both depth and ST play. He does have some good ball skills as a former running back and flashed decent blitzing ability on film while at Stanford, so he seems like a pretty decent developmental secondary player in Greg Manusky’s 3-4 scheme.