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Thursday, September 9, 2010
Spotlight on Brody Eldridge brightens

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Indianapolis Colts rookie tight end Brody Eldridge is a starter who I expected to be a big part of the run game.

Circumstances now likely dictate Eldridge be a big piece of pass protection. With left tackle Charlie Johnson at less than 100 percent, or a replacement like undrafted rookie Jeff Linkenbach, recent pickup Joe Reitz or a guard type making a move, Eldridge could be a key to the pass protection.

The Colts never make a big deal out of anything. But it seems like a lot to ask: "Hey, Brody, can you play beside the left tackle and help make sure Mario Williams doesn’t get to or hurt Peyton Manning?"

I asked Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. to assess Eldridge as a blocker and as a blocker of a rushing Williams.
“He is an excellent blocker -- both in the run game and in protection. He would be an outstanding help defender on Williams in protection. He also should be very effective doubling Williams at the point and then getting up to the second level on a linebacker or Bernard Pollard. I have my doubts if he could consistently uproot Williams or Antonio Smith in the run game, but he will be asked to do some of that. But what is nice about him is that he is so mobile in comparison to linemen, which could be very effective in Indy's zone stretch running game.”

Eldridge has some offensive line experience from his days at Oklahoma. I think that means he’d be comfortable helping stop a pass rusher, though Williams is a different breed than anything he's helped try to stop.

I also asked former Titans tight end Frank Wycheck, who I work with on the radio in Nashville, how he envisions Eldridge effecting things.

“I think you can even a lot of things out because you have that kind of tight end, but you have a guy that’s in, one less guy in the pattern,” Wycheck said. “Not that it’s going to make a different for Peyton, but you can even some things out if you’re chipping on Williams constantly and helping that tackle out.

"I don’t know if you even have to stay in constantly. At least help on his side to chip and get in his way to slow Williams down, that will help that tackle immensely.”

Ryan Diem likely won’t be getting help on the other side against Smith and Connor Barwin, and that becomes a key matchup as well.