By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — Nose tackle, by design, is not a glamour position.
It takes a certain kind of man to willingly draw a double team on every snap and understand his primary job is to make the players behind him look better. It's dirty work, and it's unlikely to make its practitioners famous.
But, every now and again, a nose tackle demands to be noticed.
That moment came for Josh Chapman on Wednesday afternoon at Anderson University.
Working with the second team, Chapman engaged starting center Samson Satele and right guard Mike McGlynn on an early running play during team drills. He pushed the offensive linemen so far to the right that they collided with two offensive teammates and blocked the intended path of the running back.
The play was whistled dead, and Chapman jogged back to the huddle to prepare for the next snap.
Two days later, the second-year Indianapolis Colts defender still seemed unimpressed by his effort.
"You're trying to keep those linebackers free," Chapman explained after Friday morning's practice. "That's like Big Rob (Mathis) is always telling me, 'Keep those linebackers clean, man.' That's one thing I'll always do. I mean, you want to get a little fun in there and make some plays, too. But, at the same time, it's fun going in there. You know you've got to demand a double team, and those guys have got to double you. You try to make it fun by making everything pile up in there. That's the fun part of being a nose guard."
Chapman is having a lot more fun than he did a year ago.
He's already a legend in Alabama for playing through a torn anterior cruciate ligament as the Crimson Tide marched toward the 2011 national championship. But the rehabilitation of that injury caused him to fall into the fifth round of last year's draft and ultimately cost him his entire rookie season.
For the first time in his life, Chapman watched his teammates helplessly from the sideline. And it's not a feeling he ever wants to revisit.
"You know you want to be out there with them, contribute, and you know things that you can do to help," Chapman said, adding that he'd always simply played through pain. "That's one thing that kind of harps on you. You're ready to get back out there, and you try to rush yourself out there, but you want to get out there when you're healthy. And I'm feeling pretty good."
Chapman believes the decision to place him on injured reserve last season was the best call for all involved. He wanted to heal his knee and put the entire episode behind him. Permanently.
The Colts still are bringing him along slowly.
He worked with the first unit at times this spring, but he's been playing on the second team behind veteran Aubrayo Franklin at least since last month's mini-camp. It's one of the more intriguing position battles to watch during the preseason, and it's an arrangement that Chapman said already is paying dividends.
"He shows me little tips," Chapman said. "He's played this nose guard position for a long time. You want to learn the tricks of the trade, he's one of the great guys that do it. I'm gonna learn from a good one."
The lessons already seem to be sinking in.
Through the first week of camp, Chapman has shown the potential to be one of the rare players who actually lives up to the legend. Wherever the 6-foot, 341-pound wrecking ball roams on the football field, destruction is soon to follow.
"He's a load," head coach Chuck Pagano said. "It's like sticking a 900-pound safe in the middle of the line of scrimmage. He's tough to get out of there, and he's smart as a whip. He understands and knows football. He is bright. He doesn't make mental mistakes. He'll call out every run play based on formation and backfield sets before it ever happens. So very pleased with where Josh is. Certainly he's got work to do, but very pleased where he's at."