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INDIANAPOLIS – Even the weekend off for the Colts hasn’t shortened the injury list for Frank Reich’s team.
The lengthy list had some big names on it Wednesday, as the Colts got back into their normal practice routine, preparing for the Jets in Week Six.
Here’s a notebook look at Wednesday’s return to the practice field:
- The ‘week-to-week’ label is sticking for Jack Doyle and T.Y. Hilton. For a Wednesday, that’s not a good outlook for either of those guys being ready in Week Six. It’s looking like Andrew Luck will once again be without his top wide receiver and top tight end.
- While there’s good news on the Anthony Castonzo front for playing this weekend (he practiced FULL on Wednesday), some other spots on the line remain up in the air. Starting center Ryan Kelly (calf) has missed Monday and Wednesday this week. Remember, with the injury to Matt Slauson, the Colts are now down both of their emergency centers (Slauson and Joe Haeg). Could that mean new center/guard Evan Bohem now accepts that role?
- Denzelle Good was back with the Colts on Wednesday, but the team held him out of practice. It remains to be seen if Good will play on Sunday against the Jets. With Good and Kelly not practicing on Wednesday, it looked as if Marc Glowinski was working as the first-team right guard and Braden Smith as the first-team right tackle. No matter the look on Sunday, the Colts will have their 5th different starting offensive line in the first 6 weeks this season.
- Going back to Slauson for a minute, what a wild story about his season-ending injury. Slauson said that he broke two vertebrae in his back early in the third quarter of the loss to the Patriots. The 32-year-old guard said he felt a pop in his back but felt like he could play through the injury. He now regrets that decision. “Very upset with myself watching the game thinking what could have happened,” Slauson said of possibly being hurt even more seriously by staying on the field. The Colts signed Slauson to a one-year deal this offseason and lauded his toughness. That was on full display Thursday, as he ended up playing all 83 snaps. Slauson was serving as a third offensive line coach during Wednesday’s practice.
- The Colts are still evaluating things with Clayton Geathers, who suffered a neck injury and is also in the concussion protocol from last Thursday. Frank Reich said the Colts are evaluating where Geathers’ neck injury falls on the “continuum” in terms of severity and if the fourth-year safety could still play this season.
- With the Colts missing their top three safeties on Wednesday, there’s a real possibility they might need newly signed Mike Mitchell to play right away. Mitchell, 31, brings 83 career starts to Indianapolis after being cut by the Steelers back in March. The open market wasn’t kind to Mitchell, nor many safeties, this offseason. “I don’t think anybody anticipated the safety market kind of plummeting like it did. A little bit of that is you get used to making a certain amount of money and the offers aren’t that. Then you had to remove money from the situation, and then it became about fit. This was the first opportunity where we got an offer and it’s the right situation…the opportunity to get on the field and play the position I’m used to doing.” It’s clear listening to Mitchell that he was very particular about finding the right fit in still playing. That means scheme and playing time, which could happen here with the injuries. Mitchell said he and Chris Ballard had been talking for about a month with the Colts explaining to him the similarities in this defense compared to past stops. Reich is pretty optimistic Mitchell can learn this ‘simple’ defensive scheme quickly, if he is indeed needed this weekend.
- It does look like the Colts could have their top 4 running backs healthy/available this weekend. That would mean Marlon Mack (who practiced FULL on Wednesday) returning to game action, and teaming up with Jordan Wilkins, Nyheim Hines and Robert Turbin. Reich mentioned on Wednesday that it is hard for an offense to have 4 running backs active on game day. It’s a good problem that the Colts could potentially have for the first time this season.
- Unlike last year, the Colts haven’t received the same playmaking from Malik Hooker through the first 5 weeks of the season. Reich had this to say about Hooker on Wednesday: “He’s playing well. We envisioned him coming back and just really closely monitoring his reps. He’s exceeded that (Hooker has played the most defensive snaps of any Colt this season). He’s played without limitation. We feel great about his progress. Obviously continuing to monitor but we all know he probably still has room to gain in the strength and healing process.”
- What did Reich think about the Jets ripping off 323 rushing yards on 38 carries this past Sunday? “It was impressive. You don’t see too many like that. We have to play good, gap sound defense. And we have to hustle to the ball.” That will be an obvious key for the Colts as they currently are without defensive linemen Margus Hunt (knee) and Denico Autry (hamstring) at practice.
WEDNESDAY’S INJURY REPORT
DNP: DE-Denico Autry (hamstring), TE-Jack Doyle (hip), TE-Eric Ebron (shin/quad/ankle/wrist), S-Matthias Farley (shoulder/groin/wrist), S-Clayon Geathers (neck/concussion), OT-Denzelle Good (personal), WR-T.Y. Hilton (chest/hamstring), S-Malik Hooker (back), DL-Margus Hunt (knee), C-Ryan Kelly (calf), LB-Darius Leonard (ankle)
–Bowen’s Analysis: Ebron and Hooker have appeared on the Wednesday injury report and have still played that Sunday. It’s not great though to see the number of injuries for Ebron and Farley. That’s really unusual. Hunt and Kelly are key guys to watch as the week moves along. Autry left the loss to the Patriots with the hamstring injury. Leonard has said he will play in Week Six.
LIMITED: CB-Nate Hairston (ankle), CB-Anthony Walker (concussion)
–Bowen’s Analysis: Walker was in a non-contact jersey on Wednesday.
FULL: OT-Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), RB-Marlon Mack (hamstring), CB-Kenny Moore (concussion), DT-Hassan Ridgeway (calf), CB-Quincy Wilson (concussion)
–Bowen’s Analysis: Very good news for some key names in this quintet. I would expect all 5 to be healthy to play on Sunday.