INDIANAPOLIS — Quenton Nelson has an undeniable economy with words, which means he’s not one for talking much to the media.
As one of the NFL’s best young players, perhaps it’s because the two-time First-Team, All-Pro offensive guard rationalizes his play speaks for itself. There’s no argument that the pancake machine has become a nightmare for defenders.
Whether he’s sporting the scary face paint or not, Nelson is scary. And when he stares at you, it’s as if he’s looking right through your soul.
He showed up last week for the Colts’ first padded practice of training camp with a short haircut and no facial hair. Time to go to work. Strictly business.
And that’s how he sounded on a Zoom video conference call after that Aug. 17th practice. The final question and answer summed up Nelson.
Head coach Frank Reich and Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly have spoken about the team having just 11 padded practices and a shorter window to get ready for the Sept. 13 opener at Jacksonville. How much is Nelson concerned?
“I’m not,” he said.
Then he stares through your soul, as if to be clear there’s nothing more to say.
Most of his answers in any interview are abbreviated — granted, not as short as that one — but Nelson’s understated nature is as well-known as his stellar play.
How did his offseason go?
“Third offseason went well,” he said. “I didn’t have any troubles with Coronavirus going on. Still had a place to train, so no complaints here.”
What was it like to put the shoulder pads on again?
“Yeah, always love to be able to strap it up – have the shoulder pads on, helmets, and it’s fun to be back out there after seven months,” he said.
His longest answers were when Nelson was asked for his initial impressions on rookie running back Jonathan Taylor, who was drafted in the second round, as well as what he learned last season when former Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd returned as an advisor for half a year. Mudd passed away last week at the age of 78.
About Taylor: “First impressions of him overall is – he’s big, he’s fast, he’s smart, and a good dude. He’s a great player and you can see it out on the field, for sure.”
About Mudd: “I think I just remember his love of the game and his passion for the game and going out there as old as he was, and not being able to walk completely, but always had a great attitude out there. I really appreciated him.”
Again succinct, the facial expression unflinching.
And that’s OK, it’s accepted because he’s such a great player. It’s fair to say other NFL players have been described as standoffish for maintaining this kind of persona.
Say this for Nelson, it doesn’t appear to be personal. He just doesn’t care to do interviews. And there’s something to be said for a guy who doesn’t like to talk about himself or share in-depth insights on others.
After looking back at his game film from last season, what does Nelson want to improve upon this season?
“Yeah, just overall getting better with my technique and fundamentals,” he said. “Yeah, that’s it.”
Yeah, that’s it. Why waste time with any more words?
(Phillip B. Wilson has covered the Indianapolis Colts for more than two decades and authored the 2013 book 100 Things Colts Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. He’s on Twitter @pwilson24, on Facebook at @allcoltswithphilb and @100thingscoltsfans, and his email is email@example.com.)