INDIANAPOLIS – The flow of a game week is upon the 2020 Indianapolis Colts.
Thursday brought the second practice of the week, with one final session coming Friday before the team heads to Jacksonville this weekend.
What were the takeaways from the Colts on Thursday?
- One thing we noted last week is about possibly seeing a new version of T.Y. Hilton in his 9th NFL season. Hilton agrees that he could be in line for a higher volume of catches this year, thanks to him and Philip Rivers being in sync when it comes to finding soft spots against zone coverage. Throughout his time in the NFL, no matter the quarterback, Hilton has never been a real high catch guy. He’s averaged 4.7 catches per game in his career, with a season high of 5.7 in 2016. Speaking of ’16, when Hilton led the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards, the 30-year-old says this is the best he’s felt physically since that career-best campaign.
- When Ryan Kelly received his 4-year contract extension last Thursday, many wondered if T.Y. Hilton might be next. Well, it doesn’t sound like it: “That’s dead to me,” Hilton said of worrying about receiving a contract extension before the start of the season. “I’m ready to go. Whenever that happens, that happens. I’m ready to roll.” If there is no extension in the next 72 hours, this will be the first time in Hilton’s NFL career that he’s played in a contract year.
- To me, the biggest discrepancy you have going into Sunday’s matchup is the Colts rushing offense against the Jaguars rushing defense. We know how big of a strength that is for the Colts, and that’s only been aided by the addition of Jonathan Taylor. Not only was Jacksonville’s rushing defense ranked 31st in the NFL last year (5.1 yards per carry allowed), it lost several key defensive line pieces this offseason. In 90-degree heat this Sunday, it would be quite wise for the Colts to be committed to that rushing attack and test the Jaguars depth up front.
- Rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship will have plenty of eyes on him come Sunday. Good news though for his NFL debut? Blankenship has kicked in TIAA Bank Stadium before—in 4 Georgia/Florida matchups—going a perfect 7-of-7 on field goals. Now, oddly, 6 of those 7 makes came on distances shorter than the NFL’s 33-yard extra point (his 7 makes at TIAA Bank were from 18, 21, 22, 25, 27, 31, 37). Still, having been in that stadium and kicked off that grass four different times should help Blankenship.
- While the Colts have had their recent issues with the Jaguars, Philip Rivers has not. Rivers has a 7-2 career record against the Jags, throwing 24 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, with a QB rating of 119.1. That mark includes a 45-10 win in Jacksonville last December, with Rivers throwing for 314 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs. That came against Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Walsh, who is back for another season.
- We’ve talked a lot this offseason about the advantage the Colts have in using the same schemes again this season. Jacksonville has a new offensive system, with Jay Gruden now the coordinator. They also have an eye-popping 16 rookies on their 53-man roster. So, the Colts should have two advantages on Sunday in the familiarity and experience departments.
- Like we mentioned above, it’s looking like the Colts will have quite a few notable guys playing this season in a contract year. Ryan Kelly came off that list last week, but the Colts still have about 10 starters heading towards free agency next spring.
- A few weeks back, we heard from the Colts on their plans to help fight social injustice. At the time, they didn’t mention anything regarding the national anthem during games this season. Well, on Thursday team captain Darius Leonard said that the team is planning to make a ‘bold statement’ on Sunday during the anthem. Leonard said the Colts have a made a ‘team agreement’ on what they’ll do, and it will be unified.
- The Colts will practice one more time on Friday this week before heading to Jacksonville on Saturday, with Sunday’s season opener kicking at 1:00.
Thursday Injury Report
-DNP: LG-Quenton Nelson (back)
Bowen Analysis: It’s rare to see Big Q on the list, especially on a Thursday. He’s the first Colt to miss a practice this season. We’ll find out more on Nelson and the injury at Friday’s final practice of the week.
-Limited: LB-Matthew Adams (ankle), S-Julian Blackmon (knee), LT-Anthony Castonzo (oblique), DE-Justin Houston (calf), C-Ryan Kelly (knee)
Bowen Analysis: Besides Houston, the other 4 names on this list practiced limited for a second straight day. Houston is a new addition after practicing full on Wednesday..
-OUT: WR-Dezmon Patmon (knee)
Bowen Analysis: Patmon progressed from a limited participant on Wednesday to ‘full’ on Thursday.