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INDIANAPOLIS The toughest challenge so far in the 2020 season is here for the Indianapolis Colts.

It’ll be the Colts (2-1) and Bears (3-0) playing this Sunday in a 1:00 PM kickoff in Chicago.

What did we learn from the Colts at their first practice of the week?

  • Practice squad moves can often go unnoticed, but the one made by the Colts on Wednesday did not. That’s what happens when the Colts signed Indy native WR-Krishawn Hogan and released QB-Chad Kelly. Hogan, who went to Marian University and Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, was with the Colts at various points from 2017-19. He then moved on to the Saints, and was cut by the Titans this training camp. At 6-3 and 217 pounds, Hogan gives you a bigger body on the practice squad, who knows this system, with the Colts knowing they needed to add another receiver. Hogan’s caught 1 ball in 10 career games (8 with the Saints, 2 with the Colts).

 

  • Of course, the bigger news to most is the release of Swag Kelly. Having a 4th quarterback on your practice squad is always a luxury. Even though Kelly’s spot on the practice squad has been deemed expendable right now, the Colts are not slamming the door shut on a possible return. “We still love Chad, who knows (on a possible return),” Reich said. “(Kelly) works as hard as anybody in this building. We still think very highly of Chad.” Having said that, the arrival of Jacob Eason always meant that Kelly’s chances in Indianapolis were beyond slim to be anything higher than the No. 3 QB.

 

  • There’s a chance TE-Trey Burton makes his 2020 season debut this Sunday, against his former team. Burton injured his calf back on August 29, with the Colts debating for a few days on whether or not to place him on IR. That seemed to believe that there was some thought that Burton wouldn’t need to miss three games (the IR minimum in 2020) with the injury. Frank Reich said earlier this week that Burton is ‘not all the way back.’ Remember, Burton admittedly rushed back from an injury last offseason to play in the season opener. Will that impact his decision to try and give it a go against the team that cut him back in April? Philip Rivers frequently targeted Burton in camp and loves the tight end’s feel for the game, so whenever the tight end gets back, he should have a presence on pass downs.

 

  • Wednesday marked Sheldon Day’s first practice this year. Day, the Indy native, suffered a knee injury earlier this summer, that needed surgery and missed all of the full-padded part of camp. He’s been on injured reserve for the first three weeks of the season. When Day gets fully healthy, he should factor into some rotational reps along the defensive line, with the Colts believing he can help out against the run. With Day having not practiced in more than a month and a half, expecting him to play on Sunday is probably a bit premature. Like Burton, Wednesday’s practice debut for Day begins a 21-day window for these guys to either be elevated to the active roster or stay on IR for the rest of the season. For now, they don’t count against the 53-man roster.

 

  • Trying to dive deeper into the lack of third-down success for the Colts this season (ranking last in the NFL in converting 30.3 percent of third downs), so I went back and watched all 33 attempts from this season. Three things stand out to me: 1. The Colts like to go hurry-up in third-and-short leading into a 4th down attempt. Run blocking in short-yardage must be better. 2. Philip Rivers is a fan of targeting guys out of the slot on third down. 3. Michael Pittman will be missed as an outside target. I still believe the third-down numbers we’ve seen won’t be the norm this season, but the Colts have to establish the line of scrimmage better when running it in short-yardage, and find more of a consistent third-down target in the pass game. On Wednesday, Reich cautioned that it’s still a small sample size and didn’t seem to be too concerned about things so far. The head coach did mention he’s really disappointed in the Colts going 0-for-4 on 3rd-and-short this season. That’s something Reich would expect the Colts to be a perfect 4-for-4.

 

  • Cornerback Xavier Rhodes took home the AFC Defensive Player of the Week honor for Week Three. Rhodes had two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown and one coming in the end zone. Admittedly, Rhodes struggled at the point of attack last season. He definitely didn’t on Sunday, winning a very deserved award.

 

  • The Colts are adding an intriguing defensive lineman to their 53-man roster. Once undrafted rookie DL-Ron’Dell Carter clears COVID protocol in the next 24 hours, he will be joining the Colts off of the Cowboys practice squad. Carter was a prospect the Cowboys really liked and someone they had been protecting on their practice squad. As a UDFA out of James Madison, Carter received a healthy signing contract guarantee from Dallas back in the spring. Carter started his college career at Rutgers before transferring to JMU, where he complied 19.5 sacks in his final two seasons and 40 tackles for loss. Carter joins a position group that Chris Ballard has been extremely active in addressing over the last year with various acquisitions. The Colts have not received a whole lot of production from their reserve defensive linemen this season.

 

  • The Colts will see Nick Foles on Sunday. Foles started against the Colts last year, padding some stats late in the game to go 33-of-47 for 296 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception, as the Colts beat the Jaguars, 33-13. For his career. Foles is 2-1 against the Colts, completing 66 percent of his passes for 850 yards, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Of course, Frank Reich is very familiar with Foles, with the Colts actually looking into acquiring the veteran QB this offseason, if Philip Rivers wouldn’t have worked out. “Nick is about as unflappable of a person as I have ever been around,” Reich said earlier this week. “He’s a very unique player in that regard. Extremely talented. He’s a big-time passer. This guy just has this knack for making big plays like few I have ever seen. Then he has this knack for coming up big in big moments. In the biggest moments, that’s usually when he is at his best. The upmost respect for him as a player. Then personally, you are close with these guys. Obviously, really close with Nick personally as well. This guy is a stud player. We’ll have our hands full this week, but confident in our team. Our defense is playing good right now. This will be a good challenge for us.” With Foles at QB, the Colts should be prepared for more of a deep ball propensity and some RPO action from the Bears.

 

  • Are we seeing a changing of the guard at MIKE linebacker? After Anthony Walker out-snapped Bobby Okereke 86% to 38% in the season opener, things have flipped big time the last two games. Okereke has been on the field for 85% and 81% of the defensive plays the last two weeks, with Walker scaled back to 55% and 43%. Now, opponents of the Colts have gotten behind on the scoreboard, which has led to more nickel packages on the field, aka where Okereke plays the most.

 

  • As Frank Reich mentioned earlier in the week, CB-Rock Ya-Sin (illness) was back practicing on Wednesday. This was Ya-Sin’s first practice since he was rushed to hospital just hours before the September 20th meeting with the Vikings.

 

  • Parris Campbell was scheduled to have surgery on his PCL, MCL injury on Wednesday. The Colts are still not ruling Campbell out for the remainder of the season. Campbell is on injured reserve.

 

  • The Colts will practice again on Thursday and Friday, preparing to take on the Bears (with defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano) in Chicago this Sunday.

Wednesday Injury Report

-DNP: WR-Michael Pittman (calf)

Bowen Analysis: It’s possible Pittman could head to injured reserve (for 3 games) at some point this week.

-Limited: RB-Nyheim Hines (shoulder), CB-Rock Ya-Sin (illness)

Bowen Analysis: Hines is a new name to show up. He did not have reported injury during the win over the Jets.