Nyenhuis fits the model of what the Colts look for in their defensive ends. He's a speedy pass rusher who uses leverage to get around the ends quickly. One of his strengths is his footwork, rarely getting caught off balance and knocked out of the play. Nyenhuis has also built a good reputation for his ability to change direction quickly and instinctively to pursue the ball carrier. But like most Colts defensive ends, he doesn't have much bulk at 6'3, 269 pounds, and as a result isn't a huge force against the run at the point of attack.
Originally signed by the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2004, he was waived in late August. He landed on Jacksonville's practice squad last season and was then signed by Atlanta this year. A surprise cut in the first round of trimming back on August 31st, Nyenhuis had drawn the praise of Atlanta head coach Jim Mora for his play in a couple of games as a starter at right defensive end in place of the injured Brady Smith.
"Whenever there is an injury, it enables somebody to step up, and Gabe stepped up," Mora said. "That's been impressive."
But evidently not impressive enough to make the roster. But the Colts didn't forget about Nyenhuis. They got a dose of his versatility when they faced the Falcons in the American Bowl to kick off the preseason. Peyton Manning was under pressure early in the game by Keith Brookings and tried to throw a quick pass to Edgerrin James to avoid a sack. But the pass was intercepted at the line by Gabe Nyenhuis.
Nyenhuis has a knack for making plays like that, which
could explain the Colts' interest in adding him to the practice squad. He played
in 25 games for the Colorado Buffaloes and registered 85 tackles (63 solos) with eight sacks, 24 stops for losses,
24 quarterback pressures, a fumble recovery, two forced fumbles, 10 pass deflections and 10 third-down stops
With the addition of Bo Lacy, the Colts take on a player who is already well-traveled after just one full season in the NFL. A former sixth-round pick by the Steelers out of the University of Arkansas, Lacy was the starting left tackle at Arkansas for his final two collegiate seasons. Considered to be one of the top run-blockers on Arkansas' line, Lacy didn't make the final cut with the Steelers and was placed on their practice squad last year.
He quickly learned that the words practice squad can be a NFL code phrase for "keep your bags packed."
The Browns signed him to their roster off of Pittsburgh's practice squad on September 30th when the Browns were setback by injury at the tackle position. But on October 20th, they released him once those players got healthy. Pittsburgh put him back on their practice squad, but the Bears grabbed him for their regular roster in early December. Lacy stayed with the Bears but was buried at the #3 position on their depth chart at left tackle. He was released during the team's cuts on August 31st cuts.
In Lacy, the Colts gain a draft-worthy player who can
learn from one of the best in the business -- offensive line coach Howard Mudd.
Lacy started all 27 games during his junior and senior year and posted 109
knockdowns against his opponents. He has displayed good intelligence and
coordination at his position, and is steady as a pass protector. Known as a
hard-worker who works smoothly with his teammates on the offensive line, Lacy
stays on his assignments well. While he can play guard, he seems most
comfortable and instinctive at the tackle position.