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INDIANAPOLIS – The final quarter of the season is here for the 2018 Colts, with a difficult slate of games awaiting Frank Reich’s bunch.
Any record short of 4-0 will be nearly impossible for the Colts to earn a playoff berth this season.
Here are some takeaways from the Colts (6-6) getting back to practice in preparing for the Texans (9-3) this Sunday:
- The numbers say the Colts are about as close as you can be to must-win football right now, with a 6-6 record and four games left in the regular season. But Frank Reich doesn’t want his team to embrace a ‘backs against the wall’ mind frame. “We don’t put ourselves in must-win situations,” Reich said on Wednesday. “We put ourselves in must get better situations. That’s been our mantra the whole year.”
- Sunday will have Andrew Luck going back to the place he spent his teenage years. Luck attended Stratford High School just west of the city of Houston. On Wednesday, Luck said his grandparents still live down there, along with some aunts and uncles. Luck said he recalls going to Super Bowl XXXVIII with his father at then Reliant Stadium, in which Adam Vinatieri kicked the game-winning field goal for the Patriots.
- Luck and the offense will be looking to improve in situational areas on Sunday. Coming into Week 13, the Colts were the best third-down offense in the league. Despite getting into many third-and-manageables, the Colts were just 5-of-18 on the money down against the Jaguars.
- Ryan Kelly missed his seventh straight practice on Wednesday. The center was off doing some rehab work while the Colts had their first practice of the week. “He’s doing great and making progress,” was Reich’s Wednesday update on Kelly. Reich did say on Wednesday the Colts want to be smart about how they handle their young center in putting him back on the practice/playing field.
- As we reach the final quarter of the NFL regular season, here’s a peek at what the draft could look like for the Colts. Current draft order would have the Colts with these early picks: Round 1, Pick 15; Round 2, Pick 36 (from the Jets); Round 2, Pick 46.
- Andrew Luck and J.J. Watt (along with Adrian Peterson) are the obvious frontrunners for Comeback Player of the Year. Watt has returned from his Week Five broken leg in 2017 to pile up 11.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles this season. “He’s certainly an elite player and is playing like an elite player,” Luck said of Watt on Wednesday.
- One thing definitely different from these teams meeting back in Week Four? How the offensive line now looks for the Colts. In Week Four, the Colts had this line: LT-Le’Raven Clark, LG-Quenton Nelson, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Matt Slauson and RT-Denzelle Good. On Sunday, it’s looking like it will be this: LT-Anthony Castonzo, LG-Quenton Nelson, C-Evan Boehm, RG-Mark Glowinski, RT-Braden Smith. Back in September, Andrew Luck was sacked 4 times and hit 10 times in 62 pass attempts. Frank Reich mentioned on Wednesday that a difference between the defensive fronts of Houston and Jacksonville is the Texans have two really elite rushers (J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney) and the Jaguars have more depth.
- If a fine is coming Matthew Adams’ way for his hit on Cody Kessler last Sunday, the rookie will be appealing it. Adams said he tried to get his head out of the way and target Kessler’s chest area when sacking the Jacksonville quarterback during the first quarter of the loss to Jacksonville. The call was something we’ve seen way too much of in today’s new-age NFL, making it so difficult for defenders to tackle at full speed. Adams, a 7th round pick back in April, has really seen his playing time rise as a rookie. He’s part of the team’s base package at the SAM linebacker position.
- What about Rigoberto Sanchez for Pro Bowl? Despite a blocked punt last month, Sanchez still ranks 2nd in the league in net punting averaging. Sanchez probably won’t garner a ton of attention as a household name when it comes to voting, but he’s having a really good season.
- There’s no question the Indy defense is playing much better football as of late. Of course, when you look at the quarterbacks they’ve faced as of late, you won’t find any appearing on Pro Bowl lists. The test for this defense will ramp up this week in facing the dynamic Watson. Can they continue their strong play against guys not named Derek Anderson or Cody Kessler?
WEDNESDAY’S INJURY REPORT
DNP: TE-Mo Alie-Cox (calf), TE-Eric Ebron (back/illness), S-Clayton Geathers (knee), WR-T.Y. Hilton (shoulder), DL-Margus Hunt (knee), WR-Dontrelle Inman (shoulder), C-Ryan Kelly (knee), S-Mike Mitchell (calf)
Bowen’s Analysis: Hilton fell on his shoulder late in the loss to Jacksonville and did miss a play before returning to action.
LIMITED: CB-Nate Hairston (ankle), S-Malik Hooker (hip), CB-Chris Milton (hamstring), WR-Chester Rogers (groin), TE-Erik Swoope (knee)
Bowen’s Analysis: Swoope played this past Sunday in his first game action in more than a month.
What’s the latest from Frank Reich, on Ryan Kelly, and the playoff implications on Sunday?
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