INDIANAPOLIS – Back in a normal Sunday-Sunday game schedule rhythm, the Colts will continue through this format to close out the final 6 games of the regular season.
Sunday’s matchup with the Titans is quite big for the AFC South race.
Here are some takeaways from the Colts on Tuesday:
- The first game action for DE-Kemoko Turay in more than 13 months saw him play 10 defensive snaps, all in pass down situations. For the most part, Turay exclusively rushed opposite the left tackle against Green Bay, although he did drop into coverage on a couple of plays. In the stat sheet, Turay did not record a tackle, but did have a couple of semi-hurry rushes. “(Turay) looked good,” Frank Reich said after reviewing the film. “You could feel his speed coming off the edge. We only got 1 sack on (Aaron) Rodgers, but he’s pretty tough to sack. (Turay) made his presence known and it was a good start for Kemoko.” Good news for Turay this Sunday: After facing elite tackle David Bakhitari against Green Bay, the Titans could be starting a third string left tackle this weekend.
- On Monday, we heard from kicker Rodrigo Blankenship about his ‘chunked’ 50-yard attempt against the Packers that hit the crossbar. As we pointed out, even though Blankenship has yet to make a kick past 44 yards in the NFL, his normal range is north of 50 yards: “I’m probably comfortable going back to 55 yards,” Frank Reich said on his weekly Monday radio show on 1075 The Fan about the range of Blankenship. “He’s made them up to 60 in practice. Rod has a good leg. The one that we missed (on Sunday), when a kicker misses one short, as long as it’s straight—he didn’t hit it pure, so it didn’t quite get there, obviously hits the crossbar—but most coaches aren’t too upset if the ball is on line and just falls short. You’d rather have a kicker don’t try and over kick it. I thought he did a good job.” Remember, Blankenship has attempted just one field goal past 44 yards this season (there have been more than 200 such field goal attempts from at least that length this season).
- In the last two weeks, Michael Pittman has emerged as the Colts leading receiver. He’s caught 10 balls (11 targets) for 167 yards and his first NFL touchdown in consecutive wins over the Titans and Packers. Back during camp, we saw some mental hurdles for Pittman. But the maturation process has progressed nicely as he’s played 7 games in the NFL. “Part of it is I actually know what I’m doing,” Pittman said on Tuesday. “I have confidence in what I’m doing, versus when we first started, I wasn’t really reading defenses, wasn’t sure of my routes, assignments, but now I feel more sure of myself.”
- Life as an NFL cornerback gives you ups and downs and Rock Ya-Sin has experienced that in his two NFL seasons. The struggles haven’t been because Ya-Sin is getting beat and losing separation easily. It’s more of a panic and breakdown in fundamentals late in a route. That was seen on Sunday, with Ya-Sin running stride for stride with Packers wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling but getting too grabby with his left hand, which led to a 51-yard pass interference. “The deep pass we thought he was in good position,” defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said on Tuesday. “We thought he had poise all the way through the down, which is hard to do. When you get deep passes in the deep part of the field, you have to have extreme patience through the end of the down to make your move timely at the end of that, so you are not getting the DPI. We thought he did a good job of that. We coached him up on a few other details there where he might be able to do better, but we thought he had good patience there.”
- Given the talent and health of the Colts offensive line this season, it’s surprising to see the top three running backs all averaging less than 4 yards per carry: Jonathan Taylor (3.8 yards per carry, 135 carries for 518 yards), Jordan Wilkins (3.8 YPC, 72 carries for 271 yards), Nyheim Hines (3.5 YPC, 51 carries for 179 yards). “With this running game, it is a little bit different,” Hines says. “Personally, I haven’t really been in an offense like that. With my background, it’s been ‘see hole, hit hole.’ Now, it’s waiting on those double teams—Big Q (Quenton Nelson), Ryan (Kelly), (Anthony) Castonzo—and those guys to work for you. That’s really what it is. When you have a great O-line like we have, why are you hitting the hole. You might as well sit behind those guys, push guys back 5 or 6 yards like they do sometimes and you ride the wave.”
- Being flexed into a 4:25 PM timeslot against the Packers saw the Colts have tons of national eyes on them this past weekend. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reported that 23.9 million people watched the Colts and Packers. That’s the second-highest rated NFL game this season (Bucs/Saints in Week 1, 25.9 million viewers).
- On Tuesday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced 25 Modern Era semifinalists for the Class of 2021. That list included Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne. Obviously, Manning will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2021. Will Wayne, who is in his third year as a candidate, receive induction this year? Given that Marvin Harrison had to wait three years before getting inducted, seeing Wayne have to wait another year would not be a shock. Remember, Edgerrin James was supposed to be enshrined with the 2020 Class, but his induction ceremony got pushed back to August 2021, which is when the ’21 class will also go in.
- The Colts will get back to their normal on-field practice schedule Wednesday, will take Thursday off for Thanksgiving and then practice again on Friday afternoon before taking on the Titans at 1:00 PM this Sunday, with 12,500 capacity allowed inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.