Kelley: McKinney Ready for Second Chance

The 'Baltimore Puzzle' (as Craig Kelley refers to it) brought in Cory Redding and Tom Zbikowski in last year, in an effort to mimic what Baltimore had the year before; given the success of both teams, it's clear that the Baltimore style of defense is the best the NFL currently has to offer.

Wait. The Colts didn't have a good defense, lead by Tom Zbikowski? Uh oh.

This year, 2012 preseason casualty Brandon McKinney is coming back to try and stabilize a defense that sorely needs a few consistent starters; only Jerrell Freeman and Antoine Bethea started all 16 games last season, and were (unsurprisingly) the top contributors, besides Robert Mathis's 8 sacks.

McKinney joined San Diego in 2006 as an undrafted free agent, and he joined Baltimore in 2008 via the same route. While starting four-of-41 games with the Ravens, he encountered Pagano, and McKinney felt coming to Indianapolis was a solid opportunity. “I felt like this was the best chance of my career,” said McKinney. “I started looking at it as a coming out party for me, getting my career jump-started and going the way I wanted it."

While it's the best thing for the 6'2'' nose tackle, is it the best thing for Indianapolis? Last season, Antonio Johnson was one of 19 NTs to play 10 or more games, and recorded 26 tackles (9th) with 19 solo (5th). Besides Washington's Barry Cofield, no other NT really recorded more than a couple sacks or pass deflections anyway, so – for his job – Johnson had a decent season, and started 14 games. In the last four seasons, he's only missed five games; that's important, regardless of production.

This coming season, the Colts probably have Johnson back; with any luck, they'll have a consistent replacement for Dwight Freeney, and Mathis will stay healthy. Verdict? If McKinney IS needed this season, it will rarely be as more than a backup.