Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner hurt his ankle in practice on Thursday and did not practice on Friday, so it was far from a sure thing that he’d be able to play against the Texans on Sunday.
Head coach Frank Reich said Buckner spent the time leading up to kickoff “doing everything he possibly could” in order to show the team he was well enough to be on the field.
“He just wasn’t going to be denied,” Reich said, via Zak Keefer of TheAthletic.com.
Buckner wasn’t going to be denied once he got on the field either. He was limited to fewer snaps than usual, but he made the most of them by sacking Deshaun Watson three times, making two tackles for losses, and forcing a fumble that Watson was able to recover. Those plays loomed large in a 27-20 Colts win.
It’s the kind of impact that the Colts were hoping for when they traded for an extended Buckner this offseason. They’ll hope to see more of them in the final weeks of the regular season and into the postseason.