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INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time since November 2015, Andrew Luck will be working with a new starting center.
Frank Reich confirmed on Wednesday that Ryan Kelly’s sprained MCL will cause the third-year center to miss this Sunday’s game against the Titans. The Colts will start Evan Boehm in Kelly’s place.
“It’s going to be a little bit of time,” was the update on Kelly from head coach Frank Reich on Wednesday.
Kelly’s injured left knee is also one that he had surgery on during his high school days. A Monday MRI revealed a sprained MCL for Kelly, with the team still awaiting results on a second opinion.
On Wednesday, Kelly did say he was feeling much better than he was earlier in the week. The center said he’s hoping not to miss too much time, and is definitely open to wearing a brace to get back on the field.
So, Boehm will make his first NFL start at center on Sunday.
Reich mentioned on Wednesday that the Colts will make a couple of slight adjustments in the run game, with Boehm starting, but the pass protection prep will be the same.
Here are other tidbits learned at the Colts’ first practice of the week:
- The Colts still love them some Frank Gore. They will see Gore back in Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. We will have more on Gore’s return coming Thursday to 1070TheFan.com. For now, here was Andrew Luck’s comments on Gore from Wednesday: “Frank was the best type of teammate you could ask for. It will be really fun to see him. I won’t be rooting for him this week, but it’ll be fun to see him. He’s just one of those personalities, one of those guys you miss. He has an infectious personality. He’s a heck of a football player and I always wish him the best success in whatever he does. He’s an all-time great. He always seemed a step ahead. And you would say, ‘Frank, how did you know? What were you thinking?’ Sometimes he couldn’t explain it which is how those great athletes are. I think he had incredible instincts. He prepared obsessively.”
- The Colts filled their open roster spot on Tuesday evening by elevating running back Jonathan Williams from the practice squad. The team now has 4 running backs on their 53-man roster, a number that Reich has admitted is one too many to involve in a weekly game plan. Reich said the decision to move Williams up to the active roster was ‘more merit based’ after the third-year running back had been practicing hard and showing promise. Williams was a 2016 fifth-round pick out of Arkansas and has 30 career carries for 94 yards in the NFL. Could Williams play a special teams role, if active, on Sunday? Just to reiterate, this move was not because any of the Colts’ top three running backs (Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines or Jordan Wilkins) are injured. All three fully practiced on Wednesday and aren’t listed on the injury report.
- Reich offered some high praise on Wednesday for the blocking that Marlon Mack is giving the Colts in 2018. That was a question coming into Mack’s second season. “I remember in the beginning of the year when Marlon was hurt and then when he came back, my mindset was, ‘Okay, I’m going to keep Marlon out of third down because I’m not sure. I haven’t seen it live enough.’ But he’s proven to me and our offense you can put Marlon in on any down and any situation and he’s ready to go.”
- With Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs losing on Monday, that probably locked up Andrew Luck capturing his 5th career AFC Offensive Player of the Week award, which he received on Wednesday. Luck was 23-of-29 for 297 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs in this past Sunday’s 38-10 win over the Titans. Luck’s completion percentage of 79.3 and passer rating of 143.8 were both the second highest of his career. With another strong game this Sunday, Luck should win the AFC Offensive Player of the Month award for November and he’s certainly on his way to winning NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
- During the Colts’ 4 game win streak, they have committed just 1 turnover (the Mo Alie-Cox drop leading to an interception against Jacksonville). That’s obviously very good. Every other NFL team has committed at least two turnovers during that span, with the average being 5.4 for the other 31 teams.
- Couple of random center notes: Evan Boehm is good friends with former Colts center A.Q. Shipley. The two were teammates in Arizona from 2016-17. Boehm said Shipley was key in helping his early transition to the NFL. Also, the last starting center the Colts used with Andrew Luck? It was Jonotthan Harrison against Denver in November 2015 (also the Andrew Luck lacerated kidney game).
- Frank Reich started his Wednesday morning team meeting by congratulating Adam Vinatieri on yet another amazing feat. The win over the Titans gave Vinatieri 210 regular season victories for his career. That passed George Blanda for the most in NFL history. Reich told his players such a feat would take an undefeated record of 13 straight seasons just to get to the 208 number. For Vinatieri, it’s been a 23-year career with a record of 210-137.
- A win on Sunday would give the Colts a record above .500, at 6-5. It would mark the first time in 47 games that the Colts have had a record of better than .500. A Matt Hasselbeck run in November of 2015 was the last time the Colts had more wins than losses.
- Two key defenders were present and participating at Wednesday’s practice. Safety Malik Hooker (hip) was back after missing the win over the Titans. Defensive lineman Margus Hunt was practicing after leaving the win over the Titans early on due to a knee injury.
WEDNESDAY’S INJURY REPORT
DNP: S-Clayton Geathers (knee), TE-Ryan Hewitt (ankle), C-Ryan Kelly (knee), TE-Erik Swoope (knee), DT-Al Woods (knee)
–Bowen’s Analysis: The two tight ends have been banged up here over the past month or so.
LIMITED: CB-Nate Hairston (ankle), S-Malik Hooker (hip)
–Bowen’s Analysis: Hairston and Hooker both were inactive for the game against Tennesee.
FULL: DL-Margus Hunt (knee), CB-Kenny Moore (back)
–Bowen’s Analysis: Good news on Hunt, after he left this past Sunday’s win over the Titans in the first half.