Colts Lose Rookie Bjoern Werner For 4-6 Weeks
By Corbin Smith
Werner suffered the injury during the first quarter of Sunday's contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars and did not return, leaving the Colts without much depth at linebacker for the foreseeable future.
While the team has had an outstanding past few weeks with road victories in San Francisco and Jacksonville to gain momentum heading into a clash with the undefeated Seattle Seahawks next weekend, injuries continue to plague the Colts. Running back Vick Ballard, tight end Dwayne Allen and guard Donald Thomas have all suffered season-ending injuries during the early stages of the year, and while Werner's injury won't end his season, the rookie from Florida State will miss several valuable games as he tries to work his way into a starting role on defense.
When Indianapolis drafted him, many scouts weren't sure if Werner would fit into Pagano's 3-4 defensive scheme. He played defensive end for the Seminoles in college and would be asked to transition to a standup linebacker in a new system, leading many to believe it would take some time for him to become a contributor. He also had only been playing football for a few years after coming to the United States from Germany, adding limited overall experience to the list of concerns.
Reports have indicated, however, that he's done a great job picking up the new scheme to this point. Pagano said that Werner has been "getting better every week" and that his confidence has continued to rise as he adapted to playing at the professional level. He's only made five tackles total, but the coaching staff has attempted to increase his playing time week by week and he's clearly "playing faster" as he becomes comfortable. The stats may not be there yet, but Indianapolis has been impressed with his development so far, and it's a shame that he will have to miss at least a month when he was finally starting to show great progress.
The Colts will replace him with former 49er linebacker Cam Johnson, who will now slide up the depth chart behind starters Robert Mathis and Erik Walden. Indianapolis also waived receiver Griff Whalen to make room for reinstated receiver LaVon Brazill. Brazill, who missed the first four games due to violating the league's substance abuse policy, caught 11 passes for 186 yards as a rookie last season and will add depth to the receiving core.