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NFL: NOV 05 Colts at Panthers

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INDIANAPOLIS Ahead of another important December game, Shane Steichen had to cover a few off the field comments first on Wednesday.

The Colts (8-6) and Falcons (6-8) will meet this Sunday at 1:00 PM in Week 16.

Here are some takeaways from the Colts getting back to work on Wednesday:

  • Shane Steichen wouldn’t say much regarding the 3-game suspensions for Isaiah McKenzie and Tony Brown, other than this: “It’s a matter that we are handling internally. And I got nothing to add on that…there are standards around here and people are going to be held accountable. And that’s it.” It is unprecedented for the Colts to suspended multiple players in-season, let alone for 3 games, let alone at such a critical juncture of the season. Steichen wouldn’t answer if this suspension stemmed from a repeated event by the two, or if it was isolated. He also wouldn’t share if they’ll be back for the playoffs, if they make the postseason. Again, questions about accountability within the Colts organization in past years were very fair. It was why I labeled it one of the pre-requisites needed in looking for a new head coach. So far, whether it’s on the field (the benchings and/or cutting of Deon Jackson, Darrell Baker Jr. or Shaquille Leonard) or off the field (see below), Steichen is being extremely accountable with his players.


  • The Colts have had 7 different players suspended since June. That’s an extraordinary, an ugly, number. Now, some of the incidents that led to these suspensions happened before Shane Steichen’s arrival. And they cover a variety of reasons for the suspensions, with some coming from the NFL, and not the team: Isaiah Rodgers Sr. and Rashod Berry (both 1 year for gambling); Grover Stewart and Al-Quadin Muhammad (both 6 games for performance enhancing drugs); Chris Lammons (3 games for an off-season physical violence act in Las Vegas); Tony Brown and Isaiah McKenzie (3 games for undisclosed reasons). Again, several of these acts occurred Steichen’s arrival, but it’s still an unheardof number to have 7 suspensions in 6 months, for so many different reasons.


  • At the running back position, the Colts are monitoring injuries the two players atop their RB depth chart right now. Jonathan Taylor is “progressing well” according to Shane Steichen. Taylor is now 3 weeks removed from right thumb surgery. With the Colts practicing Thursday and Friday this week, those will be very important sessions for Taylor to test out his thumb in regards to ball security and pass protection, if he does participate in those. Zack Moss (arm) has a small wrap on his right arm, with the hope that he can return this Sunday. Taylor was listed FULL in Wednesday’s walk-through, which is an upgrade from previous weeks for him. Moss was a DNP.


  • Shane Steichen wouldn’t share on Wednesday if Michael Pittman Jr. has progressed through any steps of the concussion protocol list or not. The Colts will not practice this week until Thursday, with another session on Friday, as those two will be important benchmarks for MPJ. Pittman was listed as ‘limited’ for Wednesday’s walk-through. A reminder on the 5-step concussion protocol that Michael Pittman Jr. must clear before Sunday (from the NFL): SYMPTOM LIMITED ACTIVITY: The player is prescribed rest, limiting or, if necessary, avoiding activities (both physical and cognitive) which increase or aggravate symptoms. Under athletic training staff supervision, limited stretching and balance training can be introduced, progressing to light aerobic exercise, all as tolerated; AEROBIC EXERCISE: Under direct oversight of the team’s medical staff, the player should begin graduated cardiovascular exercise and may also engage in dynamic stretching and balance training. Neurocognitive and balance testing can be administered after completion of Phase Two and the results should be interpreted as back to baseline; FOOTBALL-SPECIFIC EXERCISE The player continues with supervised cardiovascular exercises that are increased and may mimic sport-specific activities, and supervised strength training is introduced. The player is allowed to practice with the team in sport-specific exercise for 30 minutes or less with ongoing and careful monitoring; CLUB-BASED NON-CONTACT TRAINING DRILLS: The player continues cardiovascular, strength and balance training, team-based sports-specific exercise, and participates in non-contact football activities (e.g. throwing, catching, running, and other position-specific activities). Neurocognitive and balance testing should be completed no later than the end of Phase Four with the results interpreted as back to baseline; FULL FOOTBALL ACTIVITY / CLEARANCE: Upon clearance by the Club physician for full football activity involving contact, the player must be examined by the Independent Neurological Consultant (INC) assigned to his Club. If the INC concurs with the Club physician that the player’s concussion has resolved, he may participate in his Club’s next practice or game.


  • Any additional kicking reps for Matt Gay in practice this week? “No, we should be good,” is what Shane Steichen said on Wednesday when asked about more work for Gay. Gay has missed 4 kicks the last two weeks, including 3 of less than 45 yards. On Wednesday, Gay popped was a new addition to the injury report with a right hip ailment. He didn’t participate in the walk-through. Gay is the only kicker on the 53-man roster and/or practice squad.


  • Who is the Colts player who has played the most snaps of any this season? Julian Blackmon. In a contract year, Blackmon entered this season having missed 14 games in the last two years. He needed a healthy season. And he’s had that, while his usual productive self. According to the NFL, Blackmon has played in 974 snaps (99.8 percent of the defensive snaps), although he is adamant he has yet to miss a snap. No matter, Blackmon has had a really important contract year and has to be viewed as a re-sign candidate, while also acknowledging he’s going to garner a nice market, too.



  • With the Falcons news of benching Desmond Ridder for Taylor Heinicke, it’s another reminder of the quarterback ineptness the Colts are facing here in the second half of the season. In the last 2 months of the season, Gardner Minshew will be the most experienced, and accomplished, quarterback in every single Colts game, besides one (Baker Mayfield with the Bucs last month). And the results of that have been tremendous with the Colts going 5-1 in those games, and likely to be favored in the final 3 contests, too.


  • As has come the norm with Colts opponents as of late, the Falcons have questions about the future at head coach and quarterback. That’s what happens when you lose to the 1-win Panthers last week. Atlanta has won just 2 games in the last two months (Saints and Jets), with tons of one-score losses (5 points to the Titans, 3 points to the Vikings, 2 points to the Cardinals, 4 points to the Buccaneers and 2 points to the Panthers) putting them on the brink of playoff elimination.

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