Colts Key Matchup: Stokley vs Cousin

There are a couple of reasons why Colts wide receiver Brandon Stokley could have his first breakout game of the season today. Greg Talmage explains why as he breaks down Stokley's matchup against Jaguars nickel back Terry Cousin.

When healthy, Colts wide receiver Brandon Stokley has had some nice games over the middle against Jacksonville. The main reason for this has been due to the types of defenses Jacksonville has used against the Colts. In the past, Jacksonville has opted to use their two safeties to double the outside. So while WRs Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne were often double covered, the slot receiver or tight-end saw plenty of single coverage over the middle.

When the Jaguars do something similar this week, a key matchup will be Brandon Stokley against nickel corner Terry Cousin. If Cousin proves capable of sticking to Stokley without help, this will permit the Jaguars to double the outside and should go a long way in slowing the Colts passing attack.

After missing nine out of eleven of the Colts' games in 2007, Brandon Stokley was back on the field last week in Nashville. In his first game back since Week 5, Stokley had just 1 catch and a big third-down drop. He seemed overall to be working off some rust.

This week, though, with a game and 2 full weeks of practice under his belt, expect Stokley to be back in the flow. Given that Stokley did not play in the Colts' previous meeting with the Jaguars this season, having him back will be a nice change that Jacksonville must gameplan against.

Stokley is a fast, smart and competitive receiver with deceptive speed and above-average catching skills, who excels in the slot. He has enough short-area quickness to get off the line, get upfield and into stems quickly. His awareness in underneath zones is solid and he's at his best on shallow underneath crossing routes.

Jaguars nickel back Terry Cousin (Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Jaguars corner Terry Cousin knows that he needs to be prepared for the possibility of seeing plenty of balls thrown his way this week. "He's the closest guy to the ball [as the slot receiver], so he's naturally going to get a lot thrown to him in their scheme," Cousin said. Cousin also knows that if Jaguar decides to defend Indianapolis like they have in the past, he'll be in plenty of single coverage situations against Stokley.

Cousin shows very good foot quickness and speed, but lacks the deep speed to run vertically consistently with most wide-outs. That's the key reason why he'll never be more than a nickel or dime back.

He's a smart corner with great instincts who has a nice burst out of his pedal, does a better job playing off than in press. Additionally, Cousin does have a good feel for zone coverage, gets nice depth in his drops, and is at his best when he can break on the ball in front of him. He's also a solid tackler. But lack of make-up speed is why you won't see Cousin press often. He doesn't have the ability to make up for a mistake if he gets caught out of position.

Although the Colts have good matchups at the other wide receiver positions, expect Peyton Manning to be keeping his eye on how Stokley is faring in his battle against Cousin today. The Jaguars are also missing starting middle linebacker Mike Peterson, so if he can gain the edge against Cousin, he could have a lot of opportunities across the middle.

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