It's important to note that it's just two days into Indianapolis Colts' training camp, but to hear defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus talk Thursday, third-year cornerback Rock Ya-Sin is off to a strong start in his battle against Marvell Tell III for the third cornerback spot on a loaded defense.
Ya-Sin, who struggled with penalties and general inconsistencies throughout his first two seasons in the league, certainly has all the tools to become a strong starting cornerback in the NFL. It's put up or shut up time though for the former Temple product, considering how deep and talented the Colts are at the position. So far, he's put up.
Though he received praise from his defensive coordinator Thursday, Ya-Sin still has plenty of room to improve, which was a key focus this offseason for the third-year corner, according to Eberflus.
"Some of the obvious things are just where his hands are, keeping his hands down low and playing through the football, then his footwork through the catch point," Eberflus said during his media availability. "Does he have a good base? Does he have good balance to come back to the football and then what does he do when he reacts to the football and dislodging the ball from the receiver. So, he’s been working on all those things and obviously from A to Z he’s going to work on it but we hone it down for him – him and his coach and I’m involved in that too.
"So, we’re going to constantly work on that, he’s going to keep improving and he’s had a couple good days here and we’re excited where he is, but he understands where he has to go and he’s going to do that," Eberflus added. "So, we’re encouraging him every single part of the way.”
Encouragement and belief from the staff can go a long way for a young cornerback who will typically play on an island, which is just the nature of the position. At times in 2019 and 2020, Ya-Sin tried to do too much defensively, getting far too aggressive in routes leading to flags that prolonged drives and resulted in points for the offense.
He needs to continue to stay within himself and lean on his abilities. He's a physical corner that thrives at the catch point, which he has no issue reaching with his change of direction skills and his general feel for the game. He just overdoes it at times with his hands. If he can clean up that part of his game, look out.
For now, it's great to hear from Eberflus that Ya-Sin is off to a strong start, as is Marvell Tell III. The more reps that these guys can get now with T.J. Carrie and Xavier Rhodes out, the better this secondary will be in the long run.
"To me, it’s always an opportunity – when that happens, where a guy is out for a couple of days in training camp, or if a guy is out during the course of the year, it’s an opportunity to step up, it’s an opportunity to get more reps with the ones," Eberflus said. "I see it as an opportunity for those guys – every one of them. In terms of where I see them fit, it’s Day Two, there’s a lot of little things, a lot of technique, fundamentals they’re working on, their discipline, from A to Z, we’re working on it right now. Shoot, Marvell (Tell III) hadn’t played in two years, so he’s going to have to knock the rust off a little bit, which he’s doing and he’s getting better.”
Have thoughts on the start of training camp for Rock Ya-Sin and Marvell Tell? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!