INDIANAPOLIS — Tyquan Lewis has always had Nov. 11 circled on the calendar.
From the moment Lewis was placed on injured reserve after tearing a ligament in his toe, he had his eye on Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. He knew a return was dependent on recovery, knew the Colts had the option to wait a little longer, but in his mind it was always Nov. 11.
That was his great-grandmother’s birthday.
Elvenia Russell meant everything to Lewis. Her picture is still the background on his phone. He still keeps a box of things that meant something special to just the two of them. When Russell died on the day after Christmas in 2014, it crushed him for months, even though the next month included beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and a national championship at Ohio State.
So when Lewis went on injured reserve and did the math, he knew exactly when he wanted to make his NFL debut.
“I told myself I would love to be back by then, I would love to play that game,” Lewis said. “Play with everything I’ve got, just for her. I did everything I could in the training room so I could play.”
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The Colts are going to give Lewis his wish on Sunday.
Not because of the personal motivation, but because their second-round pick out of Ohio State is ready.
“He brings energy, he’s physical, active,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “He just brings some juice.”
Lewis had to wait six weeks of the regular season before he could return to practice with the Colts. While he was out, he watched and learned, soaking in lessons from an experienced Indianapolis defensive line as he simultaneously watched the rest of the rookies in his draft class make immediate impacts with the Colts.
Indianapolis activated Lewis off of injured reserve before the Raiders game. A blessing, to be sure, but it also meant that a lot of the healthy players on the roster were headed for a break on the bye week, and he had to keep working his way back.
Lewis didn’t mind. He was at the Colts’ facility until Friday during the off week, going through individual workouts that were designed to be as close to a full practice’s workload as possible.
“You’re just trying to make the best of it, especially when you know you have a goal you know you want to achieve,” Lewis said. “I was just trying to get in the flow of things on my own.”
The Colts liked what they saw.
And Indianapolis could use a spark on the defensive line right now. After an impressive start, the Colts have just four sacks and 11 quarterback hits in their past four games, Indianapolis just lost the surprising Jihad Ward to a season-ending ankle injury and fellow rookie Kemoko Turay is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars due to a neck injury. Indianapolis is healthier than it has been in a while — only safety Mike Mitchell (calf), tight end Erik Swoope (knee) and tight end Ryan Hewitt (ankle) are ruled out of Sunday’s game — but the Colts could use another pass rusher.
Lewis, an explosive, big-bodied lineman with the size to play both the 3-technique defensive tackle spot and defensive end, looked like that type of player before his injury.
“We have played him some, pretty much all along the line, except for nose tackle,” defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said. “We are still assessing where he is. We like his athleticism and where he is in terms of his movement.”
How much Lewis will play remains to be seen. Indianapolis will likely keep him on a pitch count as he continues to get back into football shape.
But his teammates have faith in the rookie’s raw ability. If he hits the ground running like the other players in his draft class, Lewis could be one heck of a midseason addition.
“I know what he brings to the table,” former Ohio State and current Colts teammate Malik Hooker said. “I know he’s going to go out there and be the player that he is, the player that we need him to be.”
Sunday will be an emotional day for Lewis.
His NFL debut, mixed with the memories of his great-grandmother and the memory of losing her.
“That was probably the worst three months of my life,” Lewis said. “But now, I’m on this big stage, everything’s coming to life for me.”
On just the right day on the calendar.
Source : https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/2018/11/09/colts-rookie-tyquan-lewis-kemoko-turay-jacksonville-jaguars/1942814002/