INDIANAPOLIS – It’s time for the first road game of the 2023 season for the Indianapolis Colts.
The road trip is in Houston, with rookie quarterbacks facing off for a 1:00 PM kick on Sunday.
Here were some takeaways from the Colts first practice of the week:
- After reviewing the film, Shane Steichen remained very positive on what Anthony Richardson showed in his first NFL start: “Very encouraged,” Steichen said on Wednesday. “I thought (Richardson) did a really nice job getting it into the right spots with the football, completion percentage was good. We had some shots down the field and he was smart with the football checking it down. There’s details to clean up, like there will be every week but very encouraged with his performance.”
- How did Anthony Richardson feel on Monday after his first NFL game? “Little sore,” Richardson said with a smile. “I woke up with a few more feelings than I had felt before. “The vets told me, ‘Welcome to the league, rook.’” Richardson suffered a first quarter knee bruise, but didn’t miss a snap, although he was limping a bit right after the injury occurred. And then Richardson woke up with some ankle soreness on Monday. The rookie should be good to go tough for Sunday, although these hits adding up will be something to watch.
- Just like another running back on the roster, Zack Moss is also in a contract year. Given the lack of running back moves by the Colts this week, isn’t that a good sign for Moss making his season debut on Sunday? All Shane Steichen would say on Wednesday about Moss playing on Sunday is “he’s progressing really well.” Moss had a nice finish to last season, including a career-high 100-yard game against the Texans in the season finale. Moss is a former third-round pick, who offers more of a specialty as a physical runner on first and second down, and not that elusive pass catching option (Moss ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at the 2020 Combine). On the injury front, Moss did practice FULL on Wednesday, which is an upgrade from his 3 days of limited participation last week.
- Alec Pierce played 66 snaps on Sunday, but had just 3 targets and 1 catch. For comparisons sake, Josh Downs had 7 targets and 3 catches in 57 snaps and Kylen Granson had 6 targets and 4 catches in 44 snaps. What did Steichen think of Pierce’s season debut? “I thought he was all right, I can do a better job of getting hem the football a little more…”
- Jonathan Taylor did not attend practice last week, nor the game on Sunday. Steichen didn’t go into any detail on why Taylor was not in Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. “All of those conversations of (Taylor) not at the game, I’ll keep those internal,” the head coach said. “Will Taylor travel to Houston for Sunday’s game? “We’ll talk about that,” is all Steichen would offer.
- For those curious about rookie JuJu Brents not playing on Sunday, Shane Steichen called the decision a “coaches’ one” for his healthy scratch. For me, this isn’t the most shocking thing. If I were listing the Colts top 4 cornerbacks right now, it would be Kenny Moore, Dallis Flowers, Darrell Baker Jr., Jaylon Jones. And then Tony Brown, given the insurance he brings to the nickel position and special teams history, is the 5th corner. So, that’s where I wasn’t surprised to see Brents not play on Sunday (after he missed Friday’s practice due to a personal reason).
- Could Sunday bring the NFL debut for 5th round pick Will Mallory? With Drew Ogletree in concussion protocol, Mallory appears to be next in line at tight end (behind Kylen Granson and Mo Alie-Cox). Mallory was a healthy scratch in Week 1 as the Colts dressed three tight ends. A couple of different injuries kept Mallory off the field for a good amount of the offseason, but he impressed the staff in his snippets of practice action. So, let’s keep an eye on Mallory, who had the fastest 40-yard dash of any tight end at the Combine, possibly making his NFL debut this weekend.
- Much was, rightfully, made about the Colts being so woeful on third and fourth down against the Jags. They were 2-of-12 on third down and 1-of-5 on fourth down. When asked about that on Wednesday, Shane Steichen was adamant the Colts need to be better on early downs, to create more manageable situations. Here were the 12 third downs the Colts had on Sunday and the yardage needed to be gained: 8, 2, 2, 3, 11, 11, 9, 13, 8, 1, 10, 1. Clearly, when the offense struggled in the 2nd half, down and distance was a major issue.
- Sunday is a unique matchup of two play callers from January’s NFC Championship now facing off as head coaches (and still play callers) of AFC teams. Demeco Ryans was the play caller/defensive coordinator of the 49ers and Shane Steichen was the play caller/offensive coordinator of the Eagles. These two will face off again on Sunday when the Colts offense takes the field. Is Steichen going back to watch the NFC Title game this week? “We watch a lot of stuff,” a smiling Steichen said on Wednesday. The Texans defense is, obviously, running a very similar scheme to what the 49ers did.
- Yes, wins and losses aren’t the most important thing in this 2023 Colts season. But as we look ahead to Sunday it’s quite astonishing the Colts have won just 1 of their last 8 divisional games. Talk about a harsh reality of where this organization is at in the lowly AFC South. The Colts are a slight favorite heading into Sunday in Houston. It’s about time this team got back to beating AFC South opponents. Imagine if the Colts were playing in an actual competent division, like any of the others in the AFC? Since 2021, the Colts are 4-8-1 in the AFC South.
- The following Colts did not practice on Wednesday: TE-Drew Ogletree (concussion), LG-Quenton Nelson (toe), RT-Braden Smith (knee, ankle).
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