Pressure is on Colts starting nose tackle Josh Chapman to anchor the line

ANDERSON, Ind. -- It was just a routine play during practice. The kind of play that may not be a big deal to many.

Indianapolis Colts running back Josh Robinson had the ball near the sideline as the defensive players pursued him. One of those players who pursued him stands 6-foot and weighs 335 pounds. Nose tackle Josh Chapman isn’t the fastest player, but he made sure he was going to try to be part of the play.

That’s the type of effort the Colts want to see and need from Chapman on a regular basis. He better put forth that type of effort because he’ll be on the sideline watching this season if he doesn’t.

You might not remember Chapman was part of the Colts’ 2012 draft class that featured quarterback Andrew Luck, receiver T.Y. Hilton, and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.

That’s because Chapman’s career to this point hasn’t been eye-popping. He missed his rookie season because of a knee injury. He played in 13 games in 2013 and started 15 of 16 games last season.

But the best highlight Chapman has made as a Colts player didn’t end up counting when he penetrated the line of scrimmage to trip Cincinnati running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis behind the line of scrimmage for a loss. The play was reviewed and overturned, giving the Bengals a touchdown and leaving Chapman without the best play of his career.

Now the pressure is on Chapman to produce on a regular basis. The Colts know it and Chapman knows it, too, especially with this being the final year of his contract. He has 36 tackles in his career.

The Colts wouldn't have traded up in this year's draft to select nose tackle David Parry in the fifth round if they were sold Chapman is the guy who can anchor the middle of their defensive line.

“I feel every year is a big year for me,” Chapman said. “Play is going to speak for itself. Be the man in the middle, dominate in the middle and create havoc in the middle. That’s what my job is to do, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

The Colts finished 18th in the league in stopping the run last season and have been run over by the New England Patriots the past three times the teams have played. A key to getting better in that area is Chapman's play. He has to be that force in the middle of the line who can penetrate and force double-teams so it frees up the linebackers to pursue the ball carrier.

Chapman has to do that on a consistent basis because the Colts have two players -- Parry and Montori Hughes -- waiting to take snaps from him if he struggles.

“That position is vital to our run defense and to the success that we have on defense,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Those guys have to be stout. They have to be able to knock them back and create a new line of scrimmage. Josh has shown, like you said, flashes of that, but now it’s consistency. We need consistency, not only from him but everybody on the defensive side of the football. We have to communicate and be on the same page. Everybody has got to do their job.”