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INDIANAPOLIS – Bill Belichick is known for taking away an opposing team’s best skill player.
Well, Belichick is going to have to do some extra thinking to decide who that is for the Colts in Week 5.
On Tuesday, Frank Reich backed up what he said on Sunday about Hilton’s hamstring injury being too severe to play this Thursday.
“We will miss T.Y., but at the same time you have to have the next man-up mentality,” Reich said.
The loss of Hilton is obviously immense, but the Colts did put together a couple of scoring drives in Sunday’s fourth quarter without their star receiver. It’s possible the Colts could be down their starting left tackle, starting running back, No. 1 receiver and No. 1 tight end in facing the Patriots on the road.
Despite his smaller stature, Hilton has missed just 2 games in his 7-year NFL career.
Thursday will end Hilton’s 42-game streak of starting, the third longest active streak for any current NFL receiver.
Besides the Hilton news, here is a look at what else was learned from the Colts’ final media availability of the week:
- The Colts elected to forego a lighter practice on Tuesday, having a walk-through instead. The Colts will only have walk-throughs this week leading into the Thursday night game. That comes because the Colts played 70 minutes of football on Sunday (91 snaps on offense, 86 on defense). “It’s most important to take care of the guys physically and get focused in mentally on what we are going to do,” Reich said.
- Reich said looking back at the Eagles’ success in the Super Bowl against the Patriots is a ‘small part of the equation’ in preparing this week. Obviously, as Reich mentioned, personnel is vastly different in formulating a similar game plan though.
- In the last two weeks, the Colts’ running backs have combined for 57 yards on 25 carries. “We need to get better at the run game for sure,” Reich said on Thursday. “Some of it has been situationally. Some of it we just aren’t executing well enough. We just have to be patient with it.”
- Reich acknowledges the historic relevance of Colts and Patriots. But he says that topic hasn’t been brought up much to his team, especially on a short week.
- Andrew Luck was asked on Tuesday about Chris Ballard’s, ‘The rivalry is back on’ quote from the Josh McDaniels’ fallout presser. “I chuckled,” Luck said of Ballard’s drop the mic moment back in February. “That was his authentic self showing and that made me happy. I love when you get to see authenticity from people, especially from your leaders in this building.” Luck said he never spoke with McDaniels during the hiring process. While Luck himself might not say it, you get the sense this locker room does know there’s a little more on the line when the Patriots appear on the schedule, even though this roster has changed almost entirely since the Colts’ last trip to Foxborough in January 2015.
- Each week, we have a conference call with the opposing coach. Some mean more than others. Bill Belichick is one of those guys, especially with all the connections between the Colts and Patriots. Below are a couple of notes from Belichick’s call on Tuesday.
- Belichick spent three minutes gushing about kicker Adam Vinatieri when asked about Vinny’s historic snow kick in a 2001 playoff game against the Raiders: That’s probably the greatest kick I’ve ever seen. The conditions were very difficult. There were probably 3-to-4 inches of snow on the ground. It was a soft snow that kind of didn’t go away. There was no way to get around it. The magnitude of the kick was significant. It’s got to be the greatest kick of all time, certainly that I’ve seen. Adam is a great player, a great player here, has been a great player for the Colts, a great person. He works hard. He certainly doesn’t fit the classic profile of a kicker. He’s more of a football player. He’s physically and mentally tough. When he was here, he trained and worked out with all the players. There was no special program for him as a kicker or anything like that. He embraced that. He had a great relationship with his teammates because of the way he worked, how competitive, mentally and physically, he was and how he was willing to help out in other areas of the team, scout team, things like that. Whatever the team needed, he was always great about that. He was a heck of a player in his role. Can’t ask for much more than that. He’s had a fabulous career. Certainly, in my opinion, the greatest kicker in the game, not just for his longevity and production but the magnitude of some of the kicks that he made, particularly the (Oakland snow game kick in 2001). There were many besides that. The kicks in the Super Bowls, the Carolina Super Bowl, big games after big games. Back in 2001, it seemed like every game came down to the last possession or the last kick. So every point was critical. Those games that we won in ’01 and ’03, especially in the early part of ’03, they were all close, tough games and Adam came through for us with some enormous plays, kicks. Congratulations to him and the great career that he has. Honestly, there doesn’t seem like there’s much sign of him slowing down. The ball seems to go right through the middle of the uprights, never curves, never hooks, just goes straight down the middle. He just has an unbelievable level of consistency.”
- Belichick also had some nice things to say about Kenny Moore, who the Patriots signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017. The Patriots ended up cutting Moore at the end of the ’17 preseason, and the Colts claimed him the next day: “Kenny is a good football player. Very instinctive guy. He has a real good feel for routes and anticipates routes combination, sees the quarterback, sees routes, sees the ball well. He’s able to play inside and outside which he’s done for the Colts. I think that speaks to his intelligence, instincts and awareness. He’s a tough kid. He’s a good tackler. That enable him to play inside and be part of the Cover 2 scheme that they use to jam receivers and be involved in a lot of run support and be involved in perimeter tackling plays. I like Kenny and really respect how hard he works. He’s one of those guys that came into the league without a lot of notoriety but has earned a spot in the national football league and has continued I’m sure on a daily basis, just to work hard to maintain that. That was one of the things that attracted us to him. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to keep him on the active roster. It was a good move, good pick up by the Colts. I think he’s a good poster boy for that type of unheralded guy that comes in and works hard and earns it. I’ve been impressed with Kenny. I was impressed with him when we had him and have been watching film. He’s a good player. He’s done a good job with the Colts.”
- As you would expect, Belichick didn’t have time to reflect on the historic nature of Colts and Patriots: There’s been a lot of big games. But that’s for another day and another time. Right now, it’s Thursday night. For all the familiarity we have with the Colts, the years we were playing them twice a year every year, type of thing. This year it’s totally different. We don’t know the Colts. We haven’t played them in a couple years. And very few of the players that were there the last time we played them are still there, very few coaches. It’s a lot of turnover in scheme, a lot of turnover in personnel. We’ve had similar, maybe not quite as much, turnover ourselves. We’ve had a lot of players that haven’t even played against the Colts, let alone these Colts. So it’s a totally different game, totally different matchup and honestly I don’t think any of those games that were classic heavyweight bouts really have much relevance to Thursday night.”
In tragic news, Denzelle Good was at not at Tuesday’s walk-through for personal reasons. It’s being reported that Good’s brother was killed in a drive-by shooting on Tuesday morning in his hometown of Gaffney, SC.
With Good obviously away from the team on Tuesday, the Colts had rookie Braden Smith playing right tackle with the starting offense.
When you play a Thursday night game, Tuesday brings the second of three injury reports for the week.. So, the Colts had the following players as DNPs: TE-Jack Doyle (hip), S-Clayton Geathers (knee), CB-Nate Hairston (right ankle), WR-T.Y. Hilton (chest/hamstring), C-Ryan Kelly (hand), LB-Darius Leonard (left ankle), CB-Kenny Moore (concussion), DT-Hassan Ridgeway (calf), K-Adam Vinatieri (right groin) and CB-Quincy Wilson (concussion). Obviously, the Colts will need a few of these guys to be healthy for Thursday, with Hairston, Geathers, Kelly, Leonard and Vinatieri being the most likely. Also, OT-Anthony Castonzo (hamstring) and RB-Marlon Mack (hamstring) continued to be listed as ‘limited.’ For the Colts to field a healthy 46-man team on Thursday night, they will need at least 3-4 of these names to be ACTIVE.
- Wednesday will bring one final walk-through for the Colts before the team heads to the New England area.
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