TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Raheem Brock doesn't have that short, stout look of a typical defensive tackle, and that's fine with the Indianapolis Colts.
Coach Tony Dungy prefers speed, anyway.
Dungy has asked Brock to move inside from defensive end, hoping to turn another undersized player into a Pro Bowl selection.
"I'm learning the run technique, and I'm switching from right to left, also. It's all different, but I'm just trying to learn the basics," Brock said. "I'm not fully comfortable, but you never feel fully comfortable."
Though it is unusual to switch proven players like Brock, Dungy has experience making moves.
He took linebackers Cato June and Derrick Brooks and defensive end Dwight Freeney, and turned them into Pro Bowlers.
Now Brock, at 6-foot-4, 274 pounds, hopes to become the latest addition even though he will likely be one of the NFL's lightest tackles.
It's an expensive gamble.
In February, the Colts signed Brock to a five-year contract worth nearly $24 million, then decided to make him a key component of their interior rotation when Larry Tripplett signed with Buffalo.
So far, Brock's transition is getting high marks.
"He's coming out every day, preparing himself, doing a little bit extra studying," defensive tackle Montae Reagor said. "I think he's going to be fine. ... He continues to ask questions. His progress and attitude are great, and I think that's going to help him."
Dungy will get a better idea of Brock's progression Thursday night when the Colts open the preseason at St. Louis.
But Brock is getting more snaps than anticipated. Incumbent starters Corey Simon and Reagor have sat out the past several days of training camp with knee injuries, and Vincent "Sweet Pea" Burns also sat out Monday with a leg injury.
Fortunately for the Colts, Brock's experience had already taught him some key lessons.
During 48 consecutive starts over the last three seasons, Brock has demonstrated his versatility and value to Indianapolis by showing no detectable drop in productivity even as his snaps at tackle increased.
In 2004, he had 58 tackles, 6½ sacks, forced one fumble and recovered two.
In 2005, when he started playing more frequently inside, Brock had 56 tackles, 6½ sacks, forced four fumbles and recovered one.
With Robert Mathis, one of the league's fastest pass rushers, expected to start at end this season, Dungy had to find a place to move Brock -- and tackle seemed like a natural spot given the opening in the rotation with Simon and Reagor.
"Having him inside allows us to be a faster team," Dungy said.
Now comes the more daunting task.
Rather than facing less stationary tackles or smaller backs and tight ends, Brock must now contend with the legions of monstrous guards, more agile centers and a litany of double-teams. Although his pass-rushing skills might help the Colts stay among the NFL's sack leaders for a third straight season, it's his run-stopping skills that must be refined.
Brock said he has added about 10 pounds in hopes that he can survive the pounding and spent much of the offseason and first part of training camp trying to master the position.
"Everything's faster, and you've got to take shorter steps," Brock said. "I'm learning from the young guys, well, the second-year guys, and I'm kind of like a young guy again, too. I've got to watch them work."
But for Brock, it's merely one more point to prove.
He joined Indy in 2002 after the Philadelphia Eagles, who picked him in the seventh round, released him before even signing him.
Once in the Colts' camp, he impressed coaches enough to win a roster spot, and he eventually started six games as a rookie.
Since then, Brock has been one of the Colts' most consistent players, and now Indianapolis has given him his toughest challenge: Taking his smallish body inside to make the Colts better.
It's a test Brock relishes.
"You go with speed and quickness in this defense, and we've got the team to play ball," he said. "We've got a couple of new defenses in there, but I expect to be in there the majority of the plays."
Indys_time wrote:Thanks for the update DDD, Brock seemed good last year. Hopefully him and SImon can make a good 2 DT show.
Losing Larry Triplett hurts depth a bit, but it does insure that Brock and his leaping ability will be on the field more. I swear, I've never seen a DT leap as high as that guy. Sometimes he flat out jumps over the offensive lineman blocking him. It's really something to see.