INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time in the 2023 season, the Colts are not going to be playing this Sunday at 1:00 PM
It is a 4:05 PM kick this Sunday in Carolina, with the Colts (3-5) and Panthers (1-6) in Week 9.
What did we learn from the Colts returning to work on Wednesday?
- JuJu Brents (quad) is expected to miss his second straight game this Sunday. On Wednesday, Shane Steichen said Brents will not practice this week, missing an entire week of work for the second straight week. Whether you want to view things in the short-term or long-term, the Colts really need Brents back in the lineup. That isn’t a statement in regards to Sunday’s opponent (the Panthers don’t have much wideout depth), but more just to do with how much vulnerability the Colts have with their outside cornerbacks right now. So how will the Colts handle that 3rd cornerback spot this week, having just two practices? Go back to Darrell Baker Jr? Try Kenny Moore outside, and find another option for the slot (Tony Brown? Julian Blackmon?)? Bring up Darren Hall from the practice squad, who started 9 games last year in Atlanta? Fortunately, unlike the Saints, the Panthers do not have a lot of quality wide receiver depth.
- “We’ll see,” was Shane Steichen’s answer on Wednesday on if RT-Braden Smith (hip, wrist) will practice this week. If Smith doesn’t play Sunday it would be his 4th straight game missed, which would have been the mandated time spent on injured reserve. Injuries for Smith have sidelined him for 12 career games in 6 years (1 in 2018, 0 in 2019, 2 in 2020, 5 in 2021, 1 in 2022, 3 in 2023).
- Did Shane Steichen and Chris Ballard have any trade deadline discussions. “Yeah, we discussed things, but I’ll keep those things in-house,” the head coach said on Wednesday. Here’s more on the Colts doing nothing at the trade deadline, and what that means for the 2024 offseason.
- Tight end Kylen Granson has missed the last two games and remains in concussion protocol. Granson did return to practice last Friday, but didn’t have enough time to pass through the 5-step protocol process.
- For the second time this season, the Colts held a walk-through on Wednesday, meaning they will have just two practices this week. This comes a month after they opted for this adjustment in the schedule in Week 5, following consecutive overtime games. Shane Steichen this is about managing his team over a 17-game, 18-week season, with the bye week not coming until mid-November.
- What were Shane Steichen’s impressions of Panthers quarterback Bryce Young during the draft process. “I’ve a ton of respect for Bryce,” Steichen said on Wednesday. “Very bright, intelligent football player. He gets the ball out of his hands really quick. The way he’s able to process information, when we met with him, was impressive. He’s doing some good things right now.” Young has had at least 20 completions in all 6 of his starts, primarily staying away from many deep shots. Protecting Young has been an issue for Carolina though. The No. 1 pick was sacked 6 times last week. As of right now, the Colts will face 4 rookie quarterbacks in their final 9 games: Bryce Young-Carolina, Will Levis-Tennessee, Aidan O’Connell-Las Vegas, C.J. Stroud-Houston.
- Frank Reich sees his old team on Sunday. In 5 seasons with the Colts, Reich-led teams had the following records: 10-6 (1-1 playoffs), 7-9, 11-5 (0-1 playoffs), 9-8, 3-5 (fired mid-season). Reich did give up his play-calling duties last week to Thomas Brown. Will Reich still have some advantage in helping out his offensive staff this week going against Gus Bradley?
- Obviously, the Reich storyline is a big one for this week. Shane Steichen was a Chargers offensive quality control, with Reich as the Chargers offensive coordinator, during the 2014-15 season. “I have ton of respect for Frank, very intelligent football coach who understands the game but even a better human being. The two years I was with him out there in San Diego, just the wisdom the knowledge, being a former player, his leadership abilities. Got a ton of respect for him. Looking forward to seeing him on Sunday.”
- Four games into the season for Jonathan Taylor, we are starting to see him emerge as the lead back. Here is the playing time split for Taylor compared to Moss in 4 games the two have played together this season: Taylor-15% of offensive snaps, 42%, 50%, 61%; Moss: 80% of offensive snaps, 50%, 50%, 39%. Was last Sunday against the Saints the start of Taylor having that unquestioned lead back role?
- The Colts have lost 9 of their last 10 at home. Well, I guess, some good news then for the team having 4 of their next 5 away from home. They’ll play just one game between Week 9 and Week 13 (at Panthers, Patriots in Germany, bye week, at Titans, at Bengals). It’s crazy, and disappointing, to view this as a potential good thing for the Colts.
- Looking ahead to next week in Germany, the Colts will practice like normal in Indianapolis at their team facility on Wednesday and Thursday. They will then board a plane for Frankfurt, Germany on Thursday afternoon, which is about a 9-hour flight. They’ll have a light Friday practice before playing the Patriots on Sunday in Frankfurt. The team will land in Germany around Friday morning (5-hour time change). The Chiefs and Dolphins are playing in Frankfurt this week, with one team in Miami opting to spend the entire week over there (they left on Monday) and the other team in Kansas City leaving on Thursday afternoon.
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