The Indianapolis Colts this offseason signed free agent defensive tackle Sheldon Day, an Indianapolis native who has 56 career games to his credit. His play style — which includes a lot of effort and intensity — should fit right in with Indy’s defensive approach.
INDIANAPOLIS - Perhaps it's no surprise Sheldon Day is described to have a "high motor."
He is from Indianapolis, after all.
So when scanning the free agent market this offseason, the Indianapolis Colts couldn't help but be intrigued at the possibility of giving Day a chance to come on home.
On March 25, the Colts did just that, inking Day to a free agent deal and giving their defense what seems to be a perfect fit up front.
Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus preaches effort and intensity, and that's exactly what Day has brought his first four seasons in the NFL.
"High motor, I love the game," Day told Colts.com's Matt Taylor earlier this offseason when asked to describe his playing style. "I'm definitely a technician; I try to do everything right and make sure that I'm felt when I'm on the field."
Just turning 26 last Wednesday, Day is certainly no stranger to the Circle City. An Indianapolis native, he played at Warren Central High School and was the runner-up for the 2011 Indiana Mr. Football award.
Day played collegiately at Notre Dame, and entered the league in 2016 as a fourth-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 56 career games with two starts with the Jaguars (2016-17) and San Francisco 49ers (2017-19), Day has accumulated 53 tackles (38 solo), 14.0 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks and four passes defensed.
Day was a key piece of depth for two very talented defensive lines in Jacksonville and San Francisco, but was counted on to play an even bigger role for the 49ers in their run to Super Bowl LIV last season. He started all three of San Francisco's playoff games in 2019, tallying three tackles (two solo) and 1.0 tackle for loss for the NFC champions.
It was also in San Francisco in which Day played alongside All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Back in mid-March, Buckner let Day in on a secret: that there was a possibility he was going to be traded to the Colts; Day told him Indy was also on his list of preferred teams in free agency.
On March 18, Buckner was, indeed acquired by the Colts in a trade with the 49ers. A week later, like clockwork, Indianapolis reached a free agent deal with Day.
The two former 49ers are bringing a championship attitude - and plenty of intensity - with them to the Colts' defense.
"Just the intensity and effort we play with, trying to play hard every single down, make sure we impose our will and make sure that we are infectious when it comes to the energy bucket - we're always trying to fill it up, no matter what the circumstances are," Day said when asked what the Colts were getting in Buckner and him. "It can be 4th and 1 with the game on the line, we're still going to play fast, hard and physical. We can be up by 20 (points), we're still going to be flying around and having fun. So, it's about spreading the infectious desire to have fun throughout the entire unit."
Day enters training camp with the chance to compete for the other starting defensive tackle job alongside Buckner. At the very least, he should be a key piece of the Colts' defensive rotation up front, which should also include the likes of Denico Autry, Grover Stewart, Tyquan Lewis, Rob Windsor and undrafted rookies Kameron Cline and Chris Williams.
"Sheldon's very versatile and smart - really smart," Colts defensive line coach Brian Baker told Colts.com earlier this offseason. "And he's so excited about being able to play back at home and making an impact there."