Colts Key Matchup: Diem vs Dumervil

Veteran right tackle Ryan Diem will face pass rush specialist Elvis Dumervil when the Colts are in obvious passing situations today. And the Broncos rookie is coming off a three-sack performance. Greg Talmage takes a look at this key matchup...

Elvis Lives! And he's all the rage in Denver at the moment. For example, when Ed Thompson asked BroncosUpdate.com's Michael John Schon, "Who's the player that Colts fans are least likely to know, but will know about by the time this game is over?" Schon answered, "In a word – ELVIS – as in rookie Elvis Dumervil."

Over the last two weeks, Dumervil has recorded five sacks, adding another dynamic dimension to the Broncos' stifling defense that has held all six opponents below double digits. Dumervil's five sacks are the most by a rookie in a two-game period since Cincinnati's Justin Smith did it in 2001. Dumervil's three sacks against Cleveland last week tied a Denver Bronco rookie record. This is even more impressive when you consider the Broncos deactivated the 5-foot-11 defensive end for the first three weeks of the season.

The speed-rushing DE has admitted that he is a student of the Colts Dwight Freeney. "I try to simulate his get-off," he said, referring to Freeney's burst of speed once the ball is snapped. Dumervil, who also lauded Freeney's signature spin move, said he wants to be considered a multidimensional rusher who can "hit you with speed, hit you with a rip move, bull rush you" while measuring at 5-foot-11, 250 pounds.

Just like Freeney and DE Robert Mathis, Dumervil has had to answer lots of questions about his size. Even though he was the collegiate sack leader in 2005, his stock sank on draft day, mostly because of his short stature. But like Freeney, he believes this works to his advantage because he gains leverage on offensive linemen who are usually six to seven inches taller.

The lanky DE's 33-inch arms are extraordinary for a man of his height. "Usually a guy with that length of arms is about 6-7," Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan said. "That's a little bit unusual, but it obviously helps with the pass rush."

Besides speed, Dumervil showed versatility last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. He not only raced around RT Ryan Tucker, he also went through the Browns right tackle with what amounted to a two-handed drive block to the chest as part of a three- sack game. This week the right tackle assigned with holding the newest pass rushing phenomenon in–check will be Colts RT Ryan Diem.

Diem and Dumervil will not battle on every down. Elvis is a pass-rush specialist, who usually only sees action on third-down or definite pass situations like Robert Mathis used to do for Indy. He pins the ears back and just goes after the QB.

As Colt fans know, Ryan Diem has his fair share of trouble with speed, and inconsistency in pass-pro has plagued Diem in 2006. He was awarded a game ball following his Week 1 shutout of Giants DE Michael Strahan, but gave up 2 sacks in a Week 3 game against Jets DE Shaun Ellis. Given that, it would be very risky to put him on an island against a player like Dumervil.

The Broncos rookie and his game are no longer unknown identities. So he can expect to start seeing plenty of double teams, chips, and stunts in his direction. And I fully expect that to happen this weekend. Just how well he adjusts to this extra attention will determine how will he fares against the Colts and against other teams in the future.


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