Two games into preseason, the Indianapolis Colts’ competition at nose tackle appears to be wide open.
Chapman had lined up for the initial four snaps, then Parry came in for the next three when the Colts used a nose tackle. The alternating continued. In the opening half, Chapman was on the field with the base defense for 11 plays while Parry got 14 snaps.
Parry started the second half and had eight snaps in the third quarter. Chapman was used for seven plays. Parry was credited with one tackle in the game and had another wiped out by an offensive penalty. Chapman was not credited with a stop.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was asked in a Sunday conference call if Chapman was still the starter or if it was a competition? That Pagano didn’t say much about Chapman was telling.
“There’s a lot of competition out there,” the coach said. “So we’re going through this preseason and evaluating everybody.”
When asked about Parry, Pagano said a lot more. Again, it was telling.
“David, again coming in this year's draft, just is doing a nice job,” the coach said. “You get a guy that’s smart, he's tough and he understands the scheme and he plays with really good technique. Got to be better at the point of attack versus double teams. I think it's just a little bit different than the college ball. Not that Dave didn't get doubled and things, it's obviously a little bit different. But similar scheme, so he picked it up fast.
“He's got good movement skills. He plays square. He plays with heavy hands. He can get some knock ‘em back. When we put him on the move, he's got some quickness and some twitch about him to make some offensive guys miss. He has the ability. He had a chance to make a play in the backfield yesterday and the guy put a little move on him, and that's tough on any d-lineman. But he's progressing well.”
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a recent radio interview the team needed Chapman to be more consistent in his fourth season. Parry, who the Colts traded up to select in the fifth round, had two tackles in the preseason opener and earned first-team snaps during last week’s joint practices with the Bears.
Chapman was drafted in the fifth round in 2012 and missed his rookie year while recuperating from knee surgery. He’s made 36 tackles in 29 games, including 15 starts, the past two seasons. The Colts expect the 6-foot, 340-pound defender to be more disruptive at the point of attack.
“Yeah, it felt good. It felt a little bit like old times,” Parry said. “We’re on a much bigger stage going up against much better competition.”
Parry, at 6-2 and 300, is a bit undersized but will undoubtedly add weight over time.
“I think I did alright,” Parry said. “I’m going to watch the film. I know that there’s a few plays I want back and things I need to work on. That’s where we’re at.
“I can’t control when my snaps are going to come. I just can control how well I do when I’m out there. That’s all I’m going to focus on, is doing the best I can every snap.”
The Colts are at the St. Louis Rams Saturday night. The starters are expected to play into the third quarter. Expect Chapman and Parry to continue to alternate.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.