INDIANAPOLIS – It’s time to chop some wood against a familiar face on Sunday.
The Colts will see their former head coach in Week Four, with Chuck Pagano coordinating the Bears defense.
Thursday marked the Colts’ second practice of the week, as Pagano meeting the media to talk about seeing his old team this weekend.
On Thursday, Pagano talked about the challenge of facing one of the best offensive lines in football, as the Bears have struggled in stopping the run this season.
Pagano also shared a hilarious story about leaving his challenge flag in the visiting locker room when the Colts took on the Bears in Chicago for his head coaching debut in 2012.
What else did we learn from the Colts on Thursday?
- Both TE-Trey Burton (calf) and DT-Sheldon Day (knee) were practicing for a second straight day on Thursday. They remain on injured reserve, in a 21-day window period where they can either be called up to the active roster or remain on IR. As far as either of them playing on Sunday, you’d have to think Burton has the far better chance, considering all the time Day missed in August. If Burton does get the call up this weekend, the Colts will have to cut someone to create a spot on the 53-man roster.
- Thursday was the second straight practice day for Rock Ya-Sin (illness). If Ya-Sin makes it through the week healthy, it’ll be interesting to see how the Colts handle their cornerback reps this weekend. Ya-Sin played 92 percent of the defensive snaps in Week 1, after leading the defense in snaps last season. With Kenny Moore so valuable, the Colts will have a decision to make on splitting snaps between outside corners in Ya-Sin, Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie.
- With Bobby Okereke playing starting-like reps alongside Darius Leonard, it’s the Stanford product still handling the main communication responsibilities that comes with playing the MIKE position. Leonard said Okereke is in charge of setting the defense, with Anthony Walker having a scaled back role in recent weeks.
- Parris Campbell said his Thursday surgery on his injured knee was a ‘success.’ Again, the Colts are not yet officially ruling Campbell out for the season. For now, Campbell remains on injured reserve with the hope that he might come back this year. Campbell has now had four different surgeries in the last year: hernia, foot, hand and knee.
- Like I said earlier in the week, one could make a pretty strong argument that Rigoberto Sanchez has been the Colts best player this season. On Thursday, Sanchez chatted with the media. Sanchez joined the Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2017, just a few months after the surprise retirement of Pat McAfee. Sanchez was first in competition with veteran punter Jeff Locke, who was Chris Ballard’s first ever free agent signing as Colts GM. Even though Sanchez initially thought his best shot in the NFL was as a placekicker, and not punter, the University of Hawaii product made a strong enough of an impression at punter to have the Colts cut Locke in late August. Following a stop at junior college, Sanchez was 72-of-74 on extra points and 21-of-24 on field goals during his two seasons kicking for Hawaii. Sanchez said the appeal of an open punter competition, plus learning from Adam Vinatieri, was what drew him to the opportunity in Indy as an undrafted free agent.
- You have to remind yourself that this is only Chuck Pagano’s third ever season calling defensive plays as a coordinator (Ravens: 2011, Bears: 2019-20). A Frank Reich offense has never faced a Pagano-coordinated defense. But Philip Rivers has faced Pagano twice, in both 2011 and 2019. In those two games (both wins for Rivers), the veteran QB went 36-of-52 (69.2 percent) for 471 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.
- There’s currently 15 Colts who played under Chuck Pagano (Colts head coach from 2012-17): Anthony Castonzo, T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle, Ryan Kelly, Luke Rhodes, Le’Raven Clark, Malik Hooker, Mo Alie-Cox, Marlon Mack, Jacoby Brissett, Mark Glowinski, Kenny Moore, Rigoberto Sanchez, Anthony Walker and Grover Stewart. So there’s definitely some familiarity for Pagano with about 9 starters.
- In leading the Colts from 2012-17, Chuck Pagano compiled a 56-46 record, making the playoffs in his first three seasons (going 3-3 in the playoffs) before missing the postseason in each of his last three years. Pagano has the third-most playoff wins in franchise history, and ranks 4th in overall win percentage (.552 win percentage, with Tony Dungy, Don Shula and Don McCafferty ahead of him). Frank Reich is currently 19-16, with a .543 win percentage.
- In Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson, the Colts are probably seeing their toughest wideout yet this season. Robinson is coming off a 1,147-yard season last year. He had 10 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown in last week’s comeback win over the Falcons. It remains to be seen if we’ll see any shadow duties from the Colts this season, in games in which they face true No. 1 wideouts. In facing Minnesota’s Adam Thielen in Week Two, the Colts doubled the Pro Bowl wideout in many third-down and red-zone situations. After catching 3 balls on the game’s opening drive, Thielen didn’t have another reception the rest of the way.
- It’s more than fair to say this is the best defensive front the Colts have faced this season. Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn have a long history in this league of getting after the quarterback. With Mack and Myles Garrett back-to-back weeks, the Colts will be tested much more so off the edge. As Philip Rivers said earlier this week, the Bears have a lot of guys who can ‘wreck the guy.’ At 352 pounds, Hicks has 3.5 sacks and 7 quarterback hits this season.
- These are the healthy Colts wideouts on their active roster right now: T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Reece Fountain, Ashton Dulin, Dezmon Patmon. The last three on the depth chart have little NFL experience. Fountain just caught his first NFL pass last week (hauling in 2 catches for 23 yards), Dulin has 3 career catches for 23 yards and Patmon has yet to play in an NFL game. The Colts do have veteran Marcus Johnson (28 career catches) on their practice squad. Johnson started 6 games for the Colts last season.
- In 2020, we haven’t talked a whole lot about the advantage teams have at home. Well, the Colts did lose their lone road game so far, meaning they are approaching a full year since their last victory away from Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s astonishing to think the Colts have lost 6 straight road games, with their last road W coming in that night to remember in Kansas City (10/06/19). Obviously, for the Colts to be a legit team in the month of January this season, they’ll have to find better success on the road (the Colts are 6-11 on the road under Frank Reich).
- The Colts will practice one more time on Friday, preparing to take on the Bears in Chicago this Sunday.
Thursday 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: CB-T.J. Carrie (hamstring)
Bowen Analysis: Carrie was a new addition on the injury report after practicing full on Wednesday.
-Full: RB-Nyheim Hines (shoulder), CB-Rock Ya-Sin (illness)
Bowen Analysis: Good signs here for these two playing in Week Four. Ya-Sin has missed the last two games.