Coming out of the University of Michigan, defensive end Kwity Paye was viewed as a developmental project, one that was rather raw as a pass rusher.
That seems to have played out so far early in his NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts as he's had some great reps, some average reps, and some woeful reps through two games. Fortunately for Paye, he's also had a bit of a baptism by fire moment each week as the Colts' first-round draft choice has found himself squaring off against two All-Pro tackles in Seattle's Duane Brown and Los Angeles' Andrew Whitworth in back-to-back weeks.
To date, Paye has recorded five tackles and two quarterback hurries through two weeks of his career.
Though he has yet to record a sack in the NFL — aside from his two preseason sacks that technically don't count towards official stats — Paye stated that he's pleased with the way he's acclimated to the pro game through two weeks.
“I think I got acclimated to the speed really well," Paye said to reporters Monday. "I don’t feel like I’m slow per se, as far as reading the plays and reacting and what not. The only problem with adjusting on the fly is you spend the whole week game planning for how someone will block and then you get into the game and you get like something completely different. That throws your whole game plan off so then you have to quickly, quickly adjust. Halftime is really short compared to college. Halftime, you’ll get in the locker room, go pee really quick, come back and it’s like, all right we’re up and then right back on the field. It’s just fast in that sense.”
Getting acclimated had to happen in a hurry as the young pass rusher drew an incredibly difficult matchup in his first two weeks. Nobody should be down on the rookie at this point considering the type of talent he faced in Week 1 and Week 2. You'd be hard-pressed to find any rookie pass rusher having immediate success against Brown or Whitworth.
Despite being shutout on the stats sheet when it comes to sacks, Paye believes that his steep learning curve of the first two weeks should help him continue to transition to the NFL and learn the full nuances of being a top-flight pass rusher.
“It was kind of tough going up against those two vets, guys that have played a lot of football in this league. For me, they kind of play more of the patient game," Paye said. "I didn’t really get the aggressive tackles per se. So like in the run game, I felt like I played well in the run but in the pass game, they’re kind of like playing chess with me and that’s what I have to get better at – setting up my rushes throughout the game. Knowing what rush to do early in the game, so I can set up for the end of the game in the fourth quarter so I can make some big plays. Just kind of knowing and practicing my rushes, my counters in practice so when I get in the game, I can work that.”
It certainly doesn't get any easier for Paye in Week 3 as he gears up to face Tennessee Titans' left tackle Taylor Lewan, who has made three Pro Bowls in his career. However, Lewan has gotten off to a dreadful start in 2021, allowing three sacks to Arizona's Chandler Jones in Week 1, and struggled at times in the Week 2 comeback win over the Seattle Seahawks.
Could this potentially be the week Paye notches his first career sack?
Have thoughts on Kwity Paye's comments regarding his adjustment to the NFL? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!