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INDIANAPOLIS – The highly awaited preseason debuts will continue another week for the Indianapolis Colts.

Saturday is Malik Hooker’s time to strap it back up again, with Frank Reich confirming that the plan is for the second-year safety to make his 2018 game debut against the 49ers.

“We are anticipating Malik will play, as long as there are no setbacks,” Reich said on Tuesday afternoon.

“He’s had a good, solid last week so we will anticipate that he will be on a snap count, but we would love to get him in there this week.”

Hooker tore his ACL and MCL in Week 7 of last season (Oct. 22 vs. Jacksonville). He has been practicing for nearly two weeks, slowly integrated back into full-padded team reps.

The Colts have been targeting this Saturday for Hooker’s return since early in camp. This will be the first time we’ve seen Hooker and Clayton Geathers together in a game setting.

Besides the Hooker news, here are some other headlines from Reich’s conference call:

  • It doesn’t sound like Anthony Castonzo will see action this preseason. Reich mentioned Castonzo playing in the preseason being a real possibility earlier this month, but that’s no longer the case: “I’m really encouraged with his progress,” Reich said of the must-have left tackle. “(But) I don’t want to say we are getting close, but I think it’s fair to say we are making good progress. So I’m confident and would really hope to get him some practice time before we get into Week One.”
  • At right tackle, the Colts are going to let this position battle play out for the rest of the month. Denzelle Good (hamstring) is scheduled to return this week and play against the 49ers. Good has missed several weeks of practice time. With Good out and veteran Austin Howard demoted, Reich liked what he saw from rookie Braden Smith getting a chance to start on Monday: “Braden was solid. I wasn’t happy with the two penalties that were called against him, but he is making improvement.” Right now, one would think either Smith or Good starts Week One against the Bengals. “We will probably take both weeks for solid evaluation and narrow this thing down,” Reich said of the right tackle battle. “No one has just jumped out to the forefront. A couple of guys have been playing decent, so we will take these last two weeks to figure it out.”
  • After evaluating the film from Monday, Reich didn’t like what he saw from his starting offense. The head coach wasn’t shocked to see it though after a couple of ‘so, so’ practices against the Ravens, leading into Monday night. “There’s some things to clean up. It was not terrible, but it was not our best day offensively.”
  • Did the Colts see any issues with Nyheim Hines and ball security coming out of college? “It wasn’t a glaring issue,” Reich said on Tuesday, with Hines putting the ball again on the ground in Week Two of the preseason. “We thought he had solid hands for a running back. Certainly, when you are evaluating running backs at some level, the ball skills that they have, you are not expecting it to be on the same level as a receiver. What I’ve seen of Nyheim in practice as a pass catcher and out of the backfield and when we put him out of the backfield, and out of the formation, I can say he’s exceeded my expectations there. Sometimes I’ve seen this happen, where a guy loses one and unfortunately then that gets put on film and that’s like blood in the water for piranhas and it’s on high alert. Until you put a few weeks together where teams aren’t seeing that on film, you better be on it. That’s the adversity that he has to deal with and I think it’ll make him a better player.” Hines had 7 fumbles in his final two seasons at NC State. Now, there’s definitely a difference in fielding punts/kicks versus catching a pass/taking a handoff. The Colts need for Hines to clean this up or else they will have to turn to a Chester Rogers or someone else.
  • The Colts will also let the pass rush situation play out over the final two weeks of August. Reich knows that area could be fluid during the regular season with rushers often going “hot and cold” throughout the year. John Simon is hard to look away from though. “John continues to be right at the forefront of that battle,” Reich said. “He’s been productive, a tough player, the kind of player that we like. He’s a Colt. He has all the characteristics of a Colt and I’m very happy with his play and his production.”
  • It sounds like Anthony Walker’s return isn’t on the horizon. Reich put Walker, who injured his groin on the first night practice at Grand Park, in the category of Anthony Castonzo in terms of returning to practice. If Walker isn’t back until September, the Colts could very well be starting undrafted rookie Skai Moore at MIKE linebacker in Week One. “The arrow is up on Skai and I feel good about his progress,” Reich said, before acknowledging that some more consistency is needed from Moore.