When training camp opens this summer, defensive end/tackle Henry Anderson likely won’t be ready to practice as he continues his rehabilitation from surgery on his right knee.
He's encouraged, though, by the progress in strengthening his surgically repaired right knee and sounds assured he'll be healthy enough at some juncture to contribute in 2016.
“We’re going to kind of cross that bridge when we get there,” the second-year pro said of his availability for preseason. “It’s still months away. The knee feels good. We just haven’t gotten to a point where we’ve decided on the steps we’re going to take as far as training camp goes.
“I know I’m going to be 100 percent healthy at some point. I still don’t want to give an exact date. Camp is kind of far away.”
A third-round pick in 2015, Anderson switched from his natural defensive end position to replace defensive tackle Arthur Jones, who was lost for the season in preseason. The rookie had nine tackles in his NFL debut and finished with 31 tackles and one sack in nine games as one of the Colts’ most promising young players.
Jones is expected to return from ankle surgery, which means Anderson likely lines up as a backup to defensive end Kendall Langford. Knee surgeries typically take a year for the player to return to the playing field. Anderson suffered the injury in a Nov. 8 home win over the Denver Broncos.
“Yeah, when it happened I was definitely pretty disappointed and a little bit down, but once you start rehab you have to go into that with a good mindset or you’re not going to get anything out of it,” he said. “I’ve tried to keep a good mindset throughout the rehab and make as much improvement each day as possible.
“It’s definitely not a fun process to go through, but you’ve got to do it.”
He was particularly disappointed about the timing of the setback. Anderson thought he was playing with more confidence at the position. His own worst critic, he expected more of himself in the pass rush, although he had proven to be a reliable run stopper.
“I did some things well early in the year and didn’t do some things so well early in the year,” he said. “I felt like I was improving on a lot of things as I got more reps and as the games went on. Unfortunately, the injury happened at a bad time when I felt like I was starting to really get comfortable and get into the zone at my position. I definitely felt like it was a good season, unfortunately it was cut short, but something to build on.”
The Colts’ 26th-ranked defense underwent an offseason overhaul in the coaching staff with the hiring of coordinator Ted Monachino as well as other assistants. The Colts used a second-round pick on safety T.J. Green, selected defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison in the fourth round and Maine outside linebacker Trevor Bates in the seventh round.
Ridgeway will likely compete for playing time at nose tackle and defensive tackle. That, also, should allow Anderson to return more to his natural position at defensive end.
“My knee feels good right now,” Anderson said, “and I’m definitely hoping it continues to improve each day as it has been.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.