INDIANAPOLIS – With one of their stiffest challenges of the season waiting this Sunday, the Colts opened up the week with their backup quarterback and third-string center in the starting lineup.
The Colts (1-1) are preparing for the Ravens (2-0) this Sunday with a 1:00 PM kick in Baltimore.
What did we learn from the Colts first practice of the week?
- Anthony Richardson (concussion protocol) did not practice on Wednesday, but did come out and observe. Typically, players in concussion protocol who miss the first practice of the week, are unlikely to play in that Sunday’s game. But this news doesn’t rule Richardson out for Sunday. In fact, tight end Drew Ogletree was a case study last week of someone who missed the Wednesday practice, yet still cleared concussion protocol by practicing limited on Thursday, fully on Friday and then receiving complete protocol clearance on Saturday (but didn’t play due to a coach’s decision). At his Wednesday media availability, Shane Steichen wouldn’t comment if the missed practice reps for Richardson would impact the rookie’s chances of playing on Sunday, under the assumption the QB still clears protocol before Sunday. Missing a Wednesday practice means Richardson wasn’t on the field for a day of 1st and 2nd down install. And Steichen also no commented on if a further risk of injury for Richardson lessens, if the rookie sits for another week.
- Even with Richardson missing Wednesday’s first practice of the week, based off words and actions, the early signs of the rookie QB dealing with his first NFL concussion are positive in that his absence shouldn’t be too long. Obviously, you never truly know how anyone progress through their respective concussions, with the aerobic activity ramping up throughout the 5-step concussion protocol (here are the 5 steps of the concussion protocol). Still though, the early signs have been positive in Richardson’s concussion not being on the severe end of things. Shane Steichen said on Wednesday that Richardson is “in a good spot” after interacting with him this week.
- It might just matter for Sunday, Gardner Minshew has started against the Ravens. That came as the Jaguars were a 1-13 football team back in 2020. Minshew went 22-of-29 (75.6%) for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the Jags lost 40-14. Minshew was also sacked 5 times, including a safety. In relief of Richardson last week, Minshew was an impressive 19-of-23, getting the ball out quick and keeping the passing game moving at an efficient manner, peppering accurate balls in the underneath part of the game. Unlike most backups, Minshew got a good amount of work with the starters this offseason, before the Colts eventually committed to Richardson as the full-time starter.
- So center Ryan Kelly (concussion protocol) also missed Wednesday’s first practice of the week, and was not spotted during the open media portion. Kelly did suffer a concussion in 2017 and missed the final 5 games of the season. That’s a very long absence for a concussion. If Kelly can’t go on Sunday, it’ll likely be 2021 undrafted free agent Wesley French in the lineup. French got his first ever NFL action on offense in last week’s 2nd half, when Kelly exited. French played 19 snaps and helped guide an offensive line that ended the Texans game without allowing a sack and giving up just one quarterback hit. Of course, the Ravens are known for being an exotic defensive bunch so expect a lot thrown at French this Sunday. French is technically the 3rd string center for the Colts (Danny Pinter was the backup before he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in August. Given the amount of experience behind Richardson (Minshew’s 24 career starts) vs. Kelly (French’s 0 career starts), center might be the bigger worry at this point of the week.
- For those that missed it, Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley shared this on Tuesday when asked about where 2nd round pick JuJu Brents is at. Remember, Brents missed all 16 spring practices, plus the first 6 practices of training camp. Toss in missing the Eagles joint practice and preseason finale in Philly, and he easily missed the most time of any Colts cornerback this offseason. It’s clearly impacted him to the point of the 2nd round pick being a healthy inactive in the first two games of the season. That’s rare to see, but not a complete shock when you factor in the lack of availability of him. For now, Darrell Baker Jr. remains that 3rd cornerback, but I’m curious how much longer it will take for rookies Jaylon Jones and Brents to push for that valuable 3rd CB spot. “(Brents) got more reps last week,” is how Bradley started off his answer when asked about an update on Brents. “I thought he had a good week of practice last week. That time he was missing, but he’s coming back. He’s getting more reps in walk through more reps in team (practice). So he’s progressing along nicely, so we hope to get him a few more reps this week.”
- Shane Steichen was asked on Wednesday if Jonathan Taylor will travel to Baltimore this weekend. Remember, Taylor did not travel to Houston in Week Two, nor did he attend the home opener against Jacksonville. “In regards to Jonathan, just like going forward, I know you guys ask about him traveling and all this stuff, and all those different things, I’m going to refrain from getting into all of that stuff,” the head coach said. “I know you guys have a job to do, but he’s on the PUP and we are looking forward to getting him back.” Taylor is on the physically unable to perform list, with his stay on that lasting for another two games (at Ravens, Rams).
- While the Ravens have dealt with some key injuries early in the season, they still are just 1 of 2 AFC teams with a 2-0 start (the Dolphins is the other). Lamar Jackson has been a very consistent passer, 2nd in the NFL in completion percentage. The Ravens made some notable changes to their wide receiver position this offseason—signing Odell Beckham Jr. and drafting Zay Flowers in Round 1—and have a new offensive coordinator in Todd Monken. Although Beckham’s status for this Sunday is up in the air after suffering an ankle injury in last week’s win over the Bengals.
- These two teams played a wild one back in 2021,with the Colts building 22-3 late in the 3rd quarter before the Ravens came back to win in overtime. Both Carson Wentz and Lamar Jackson, shockingly, threw for more than 400 yards. The Colts had no answer for Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews (11 catches for 147 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 two-point conversions) as the comeback started to build.
- How much playmaking have we seen from the Colts defensive line his season? A lot. The Colts currently lead the NFL with 17.0 tackles for loss. It’s also the most for the franchise in the first two games of a season in at least 22 years.
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