INDIANAPOLIS – Home opener week is here for the Colts.
Lucas Oil Stadium will welcome 2,500 fans inside on Sunday afternoon with the Colts (0-1) hosting the Minnesota Vikings (0-1) in Week Two.
What did we learn from the Colts at their first practice of the week?
-Frank Reich was pleased with the little bit of no-huddle offense they used in Week 1. Reich said that is something the Colts will have in the game plan every week, and will be a ‘feel thing’ in terms of how often they go to that quicker tempo.
-At some point this week, Philip Rivers will have a little more of an extended conversation with Xavier Rhodes. Obviously, with Rhodes having been in Minnesota since 2013 he knows the personnel and scheme quite well. Rivers said there’s a fine balance in relying too much on Rhodes to formulate an entire game plan, because the Vikings might want to alter some things knowing there’s such a familiar face on the opposing sideline this week. Rivers says he will ask Rhodes about possible routes that the Minnesota DBs might struggle against.
-We saw the Colts add a kicker to the practice squad on Tuesday (Matt Gay). Frank Reich mentioned that’s something the Colts were thinking of doing with all the uncertainty in 2020. Many teams in the NFL do have an extra specialist on the practice squad this year. Although, when your undrafted rookie misses a 30-yard field goal, you would be foolish not to look into potential other options if the short misses become a trend. “This is the NFL, (Rodrigo Blankenship) knows the pressure, every coach, every player knows the pressure of performing in this league,” Reich said on Wednesday of adding a kicker to the practice squad.
-It looks like the Colts are keeping just 3 running backs on their active roster this week: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins. Is that shocking? Not at all. Remember, Jordan Wilkins played only 1 offensive snap in Sunday’s opener, so the Colts really don’t need a 4th running back. They do have two running backs on the practice squad: Darius Anderson and Darius Jackson.
-“I don’t expect it to be an issue moving forward,” was Philip Rivers’ response to his two-interception debut with the Colts. Rivers threw 20 interceptions last season, with 15 of them coming when the Chargers were trailing. On Sunday, Rivers’ first interception came on a 3rd-and-10 in the first half. The other occurred on a 3rd-and-3, with the Colts down four points in the final minutes. What’s the main takeaway from that? The Colts have to stay away from those obvious passing situations, especially with a quarterback who brings questions about his arm strength.
-Denico Autry is one of three players in the NFL to record 2 sacks in Week 1 (Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan and Jets’ Marcus Maye were the others). Autry is starting in the defensive end spot we used to see Jabaal Sheard occupy. Known for his versatility, Autry moved around up front and his production is key with the Colts missing Kemoko Turay for the first two months of the season.
-The Colts were missing 3 starters at Wednesday’s first practice of the week: TE-Jack Doyle, S-Malik Hooker, WR-Zach Pascal. We will monitor these throughout the week. There’s plenty of wideouts on the 53-man roster if Pascal misses Sunday. At tight end, the Colts have Mo Alie-Cox and Noah Togiai (inactive in Week 1) on the roster, with Farrod Green and Charlie Taumoepeau on the practice squad. At safety, the Colts have 4 other safeties on the 53-man roster: Khari Willis, George Odum, Tavon Wilson and Julian Blackmon (inactive in Week 1). Safety Ibraheim Campbell is on the practice squad.
-We saw the Colts bump up Reece Fountain to the 53-man roster on Wednesday (with Marlon Mack going to IR as the corresponding roster move). That means the Colts now have 7 wideouts on the 53-man roster: T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal, Michael Pittman, Dezmon Patmon, Ashton Dulin and Reece Fountain. This is why we should keep a close watch on the injury to Pascal as the week unfolds. Pascal played 46-of-74 offensive snaps in Week 1, but left the game a couple of times to get tended to by the athletic training staff. Pascal was doing some light jogging at the start of Wednesday’s practice.
-The Colts will practice again on Thursday and Friday this week before welcoming Minnesota for Sunday’s home opener kicking at 1:00.
Wednesday Injury Report
DNP: TE-Jack Doyle (ankle/knee), S-Malik Hooker (illness), WR-Zach Pascal (knee)
Bowen Analysis: It’s good to see Doyle not listed as a DNP for his neck, which is something he battled during camp.
Limited: S-Julian Blackmon (knee)
Bowen Analysis: This is Blackmon’s third week of practicing in his return from ACL rehab. He continues to be a limited participant.