Wheeler wants to be well-rounded
If things pan out the way the Colts would like, Philip Wheeler will win the strongside linebacker spot.
Wheeler got a good share of the work with the first team in minicamp back at the start of the month.
Clint Session had a 99-tackle season in 2008 on the strongside and will now move to the weakside. Will Wheeler be the next guy to make a strong showing in the Colts' never-ending cavalcade of linebackers?
"Last year I was good at certain things," Wheeler said earlier this month. "I'm trying be more well-rounded and more polished... I haven't worked on one thing more than any other. It's just trying to be well-rounded."
The move of Session and the insertion of Wheeler make sense -- Session (6-0, 235) is faster while Wheeler (6-2, 240) is a bit bigger.
Wheeler played in all 16 games last year, starting none. But now he's favored to hold off Freddy Keiaho, who started 14 games at weakside last season and 11 in 2007 but doesn't exactly qualify as rugged at 5-11, 226.
I think Wheeler could follow the path Session did. Late in the 2008 season, I talked with Session about how he went from running around and being nervous to playing within the scheme. (He was also dealing with some personal stuff early on.)
The Colts don't merely ask their defensive tackles to take up blockers, they want them to penetrate and force the action. If the middle of the line is more effective than it was last year, the jobs of Session, Wheeler, incumbent middle linebacker Gary Brackett or whoever is playing at linebacker should become easier as they gain more room to run.
The effect of the upgrades on the interior defensive line on the linebackers is something we will explore further in July.