Indianapolis Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke sure is garnering attention early on in training camp in Westfield at Grand Sports Park.
On Saturday, Okereke had another tremendous day, picking off two passes — one of which would have been a pick-6 in a real game — and continues to be around the football a ton as the new full-time starting linebacker replacing Anthony Walker Jr.
Okereke closed his second season strong in 2020, but if his play in training camp is any type of preview for his third season (and first as a full-time starter), the former Stanford product could be in for a monster year.
The key to that, according to defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, is Okereke beginning to trust his eyes and stay disciplined, which is bringing him to the football where he can make plays on the ball.
“Bobby (Okereke) has been doing well. The thing with Bobby – and the thing with everybody – is that we’re just focusing on his basics right now, the improvements that we talked about and one of those were his eyes for his keys," Eberflus said. "The reason that’s important is because when a linebacker reads his keys, he can get faster to his work and make more plays. We used to say hits on the ball and that’s what he’s done, and you can see him hitting the ball either by tackle or by takeaway and that’s what he’s done. He’s done a good job with his keys and his eye discipline. The next thing Bobby needs to work on is his footwork and he’s continued to work on that. He’s done a good job with that and all that’s doing is it’s taking him closer to the football and that’s what you’re seeing on the field.”
Reading his keys and trusting his eyes were issues right away coming out of Stanford as Okereke could be fooled by the window dressing that offenses would throw out there pre- and post-snap.
Now though, with snaps under his belt, Okereke appears more confident trusting what he's seeing, reading and reacting and making plays all over the field in Eberflus's defense.
Pairing an athlete like Okereke next to star linebacker Darius Leonard is quite fun on paper, and if Okereke can take that next step in 2021, this Colts' defense could truly take off as an elite unit, especially at linebacker.
Have thoughts on Bobby Okereke's performance in training camp to date? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!