Bjoern Werner’s rookie season was not what most Indianapolis Colts fans expected it to be. He didn’t have a secondary move that he could use after initial contact and he struggled to get any production out of his first season. Some people attributed this to his transition to 3-4 defense from the 4-3 defense he played in college. He also missed some time last year due to injury and he really never gained any comfort.
At the beginning of the offseason he was expected just to contribute to the pass rushing production set by Robert Mathis last year. But then Mathis was suspended for the first four games of the season. Now there is pressure on Werner to perform this year because of the lost production.
In the first two weeks of training camp Werner was shining. He was making plays all over the practice field and reporters were taking notice. George Bremer even stated that he was the MVP of the first two weeks of camp.
The one question that was left unanswered was whether he could translate the production he had on the practice field to game action. Well, against the New York Jets he was able to show his presence on the field. The Jets have a solid offensive line and the fact that Werner was able to get pressure is a great sign.
Last year Werner was always slowed down by initial contact. He didn’t use his hands well and he allowed for offensive tackles to lock onto him with ease. In the preseason opener, Werner made better use of his hands and didn’t allow himself to be locked in with the offensive tackle. Werner was also used in a three-point stance rather than a stand up position, something that Mathis uses now that he is working in a 3-4. That is a smart choice by the coaching staff considering they don’t have time for Werner to be comfortable in a stand up stance. They are allowing Werner to play in a comfortable role and that should allow Werner to raise his production level this year.
The preseason is a very small sample size, so everything should be taken with a grain of salt, but it gives players a chance to build the foundation for the rest of the season in a live game setting. Werner could be building something big for this season.