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Colts ‘lost a real soldier’ ​​in Bobby Okereke

Colts ‘lost a real soldier’ ​​in Bobby Okereke

One of the first moves of the legal tampering period included the Indianapolis Colts watching linebacker Bobby Okereke sign a four-year deal with the New York Giants.

It quickly prompted them to re-sign their other free-agent linebacker EJ Speed, who agreed to a two-year deal before the market officially opened.

While signing the deal with the Colts was an easy decision for Speed, he feels the loss of his former teammate and brother, telling the media in a press conference this week that Indy lost a good one.

“Bobby is a real pro. He brings a certain knack to the room like a certain swagger and he’s a student. So, with Bobby leaving, he will be dearly missed,” Speed ​​said. “That’s my brother. I talk to him almost every day. We have scheduled FaceTime calls that he better not miss and I better not miss. So yeah, I’m going to miss him. We lost a real soldier in Bobby and New York got a soldier. So, I’m proud of him and I’m happy.”

It was a deal Okereke couldn’t pass up. He’s seeing a nice bump in pay while being the centerpiece in the middle of Wink Martindale’s defense, one that seems to be on the rise.

For Speed, this is an opportunity to continue seeing growth in his game while also walking into a potentially larger role in Gus Bradley’s defensive scheme.

“I can do a lot. Gus (Bradley) has expressed to me plenty of times that he trusts me. I trust him. We’ve already made plays together as a coach/player last year,” Speed ​​said. “Now in this role I can make more, we can do more and I’m looking forward to it.”

It will be interesting to see how the linebacker snaps are divided. Star Shaquille Leonard is hopefully going to be ready after undergoing another surgery to correct a nagging nerve issue—the same one that kept him out for the entire 2022 season.

Meanwhile, Zaire Franklin broke out in a career year for the Colts and emerged as a starter in the middle of the defense. If both are healthy, they will likely take the majority of snaps, and the Colts run mostly nickel packages so a third linebacker is used in a rotational role.

This means Speed ​​could be looking towards a 30-40% snap share in the defense, which would be a nice upgrade over his recent work.

But where Speed ​​makes the biggest impact is on special teams. He led the team in snaps during the 2022 season and now will be working with new special teams coordinator Brian Mason, who joined Shane Steichen’s staff in February.

“He likes to make plays and change the game on special teams. So, we’ll just keep that tide rolling.”

We’ll see how different the defense is without Okereke, but the Colts expect Speed ​​to step up into a bigger role regardless.

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Story originally appeared on Colts Wire

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