INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts are now in regular season mode.
After two weeks of full-padded practices and ramping up the intensity, the Colts are now shifting towards more of a regular season schedule with their opener less than two weeks away (September 13th).
What were the takeaways from the Colts on Monday, with roster cuts coming this weekend?
-The big news on Monday was the Colts seeing rookie safety Julian Blackmon make his practice debut in the NFL. Blackmon tore his ACL in December 2019 (in the Pac-12 Championship) and has been on the non-football injury list. Now, 9 and a half months removed from the injury and surgery, Blackmon is ready to participate in practice. The Colts will have him on a play count as they ease their third-round pick into things. This is a notable move for two specific reasons. One, it means Blackmon could/will be taking up a 53-man roster spot from Week One, and not start the season on the PUP. Second, it’s obviously great to start further developing a guy the Colts view as an important piece moving forward. Given his collegiate background at cornerback and safety, a healthy Blackmon could find a versatile role in sub packages during his rookie campaign.
-Frank Reich didn’t have a specific update on TE-Trey Burton and his injured calf on Monday. Reich did say ‘those things can range in the number of weeks, generally more than two weeks’ when talking about Burton’s calf injury. For now, the Colts are waiting though to see how the injury ‘settles down’ before offering something concrete publicly. At the minimum, it’s looking like Burton could very well miss the season opener, if not more time. This is a notable loss for the Colts. It limits their diversity among the tight end skillsets and could shrink some of the multiple tight end personnel groupings that Frank Reich wants to employ. Burton was a consistent third-down and red-zone option for Philip Rivers during camp.
-As if there was another reminder needed, Frank Reich pointed out on Monday that Marlon Mack is the unquestioned starting running back for the Colts, while also pointing out that Jonathan Taylor is going to be a ‘major contributor’ in 2020. Reich was asked on Monday to compare the styles of his top two backs. Reich said Mack is a little quicker and can accelerate within holes faster, to go along with his strong vision. Reich thought Mack had a ‘fantastic’ camp as the fourth-year back plays in a contract year. Taylor is the bigger back, bringing home-run speed in the open field. Reich complemented Taylor on how the rookie has learned more of a zone-scheme rushing attack. Early in the season, look for Mack to be the ‘first’ lead back, with Taylor still offering a whole lot of potential, and something this offense will want to see.
-The Colts got three injured guys back to practice on Monday: WR-Zach Pascal (hamstring), CB-Kenny Moore (groin) and WR-Marcus Johnson (undisclosed). Johnson had missed all of the previous full-padded work this camp, thus opening the door for the likes of Reece Fountain and Dezmon Patmon to possibly claim the 5th wideout spot. How will Johnson’s return possibly change that?
-A knee injury by DT-Sheldon Day suffered earlier this summer has him still yet to practice in full pads. Frank Reich said Day is ‘making progress’ but the Indy native did have to have a minor procedure, which has kept him on the sideline. No practice time for Day could very well impact how he fits in the 53-man roster puzzle. Do the Colts have room for an injured Day in Week 1? If healthy, Day was expected to be a key rotational piece in the interior of the defensive line. After strong camps from Tyquan Lewis and Rob Windsor though, is that still the case? Maybe Day is an injured reserve option to start the season, with the Colts being able to activate him after three weeks (new COVID rules).
-Along with Monday, the Colts will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week before taking Friday off, with roster cuts coming Saturday. The 2020 season opener comes September 13th in Jacksonville.