INDIANAPOLIS – A short week for the Colts brings a different Tuesday than normal.
Players had a walk-through on Tuesday, with the Colts bumping everything up by one day this week, while also eliminating one ‘practice’ day, because of a Saturday game. The team will then practice on Wednesday and Thursday before heading to Buffalo on Friday afternoon.
Here is what we learned from the Colts on Tuesday:
- As the Colts gathered for their first in-person team meeting of the week, Frank Reich delivered this message to his team/staff with the playoffs here: “Resist the tendency in these moments to try to be a hero. Resist the tendency in these moments to try overcoach players. Resist the tendency to try to over scheme…I hear the echoes of Tony Dungy and Marv Levy and many others who have had an influence on me, ‘Doing the ordinary things, extraordinarily well.’ At the end of the day what we talked about as a team is, ‘What will cause us to win this game is our players doing ordinary things in an extraordinary manner.”
- There’s a couple elephants in the room for Philip Rivers this weekend: his playoff resume and his record in cold-weather games. Let’s start with the playoffs (5-6 record in 11 games). Since 2000, 14 quarterbacks have started at least 10 playoff games. Here is where Rivers ranks among those QBs: .454 win percentage (12th ), 84.2 rating (tied for 13th), 59.4 completion percentage (11th), 7.48 yards per attempt (7th). Of that group, Rivers is the only one to have not made a Super Bowl. Does Rivers think about this more with the postseason now here? “I really don’t,” the 39-year-old said on Tuesday. It’s really hard to put into words or to make someone understand you or believe you, I guess. Do I want to be part of a team and help a team win a championship? Of course. But that’s not the only driving factor to play. There’s a lot of other things that come with it. Is that the ultimate goal this year and the goal as we sit here? Yes, no question it is. But I don’t carry that with me day-to-day, ‘Man, played 16 years and never been part of a championship.’ I really don’t. We strive for it. Strive for it every year and are striving for it crazy this year but it’s not something I feel heavy or something I’m carrying around. Shoot, it’s a new beginning every day and I’m excited for each challenge and opportunity.” Rivers is a perfect 4-0 during the Wild Card Round of the Playoffs.
- And on the cold weather front, with Saturday’s forecast showing the temperature around 32 degrees, Rivers is 1-5 (0-3 in the playoffs) in his career when the temp is freezing or colder at kickoff. In those games, Rivers has completed 58.9 percent of his passes, averages 298.2 passing yards per game, thrown 10 touchdown and 7 interceptions, with a passer rating of 84.2.
- Both the Colts and Bills made some notable offseason moves with former Vikings. For the Bills that was a mega trade for wideout Stefon Diggs. And for the Colts it was trying to resurrect the career of cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Well, on Sunday, Diggs and Rhodes will likely be facing off. “He’s a competitor, man,” Rhodes said of Diggs during his weekly appearance on The Ride With JMV. “He has mad passion for the game, mad passion, as you can see on the field. Practicing against him, the two of us would go head-to-head all the time. We like to compete, and we don’t like losing. There were times where things were heated between us two, but we all know we are brothers at the end of the day. We always wanted to compete. We always wanted to win. I’m looking forward to that being the same thing out there on the field against him. But it’s all going to be love. At the end of the day, it’s going to be more like, ‘I want to win. I don’t want to lose,’ type of thing.” We haven’t seen the Colts use Rhodes in a shadow role this season? Is Saturday the time to use it?
- We mentioned on Monday that the Colts are planning to stick with Jared Veldheer again this week at left tackle. On Tuesday, we heard from the 33-year-old Veldheer, who joined the Colts last week and practiced just twice before playing every single offensive snap against the Jaguars. Veldheer was helping coach high school football in his hometown of Grand Rapids this fall, while that itch continued to build on getting back to playing professional football and tasting the Super Bowl (he has yet to play in one). The Colts’ injury situation with Anthony Castonzo, plus Veldheer’s familiarity with offensive line coach Chris Strausser led to these parties joining. How did Veldheer stay in shape over the past few months? “I’m always trying to push myself to whatever physical limit that is. I always try to stay strong but in the last few months, I tried to address hip mobility and ankle mobility and that’s helped tremendously as I not only get older but be mobile and strong and I think that plays a big role in being able to come back and get in those positions that O-line have to get in and then to be powerful in those positions. I did some cross training on top of strength training, with heavy hikes with weighted backpack…a lot of endurance things.” Veldheer was a bio major at Hillsdale College so that’s where some of his affinity for pushing his body comes into play. His IQ also aided him in getting the Colts playbook down in just two practices. Veldheer has now ‘unretired’ a couple of times in his career and says he doesn’t know if he wants to keep playing past this year. Ironically, that high school team Veldheer helped coach this year also has a playoff game this Saturday at 1:00 PM.
- Matt Eberflus’ name has come up in 3 different head coaching openings (Jets, Chargers and Texans). Any potential interviews for Eberflus are on hold until after the Buffalo game. Veteran Justin Houston gives Eberfuls a stamp of approval. “A lot of guys would love to play for him,” Houston said on Tuesday. “He’s a great coach. I think the communication aspect, he’s a great coach from that point of view. He talks to his players and gets players to talk to him. He’s open with communication. It’s not like he’s trying to force you to do anything. He’ll actually sit down, listen to both sides and it’s like coming to an agreement and not trying to dictate or force you to do anything. I think he’s a great coach. I think great coaches do more communication then actually forcing a guy to try and do something.”
- Wednesday will offer a better picture into Khari Willis possibly playing on Saturday. But Frank Reich did say on Tuesday that Willis is making good progress, but remains in concussion protocol.
- The Colts had a walk-through on Tuesday and will practice just on Wednesday and Thursday, and then have a Friday walk-through before traveling to Buffalo for Saturday’s kickoff at 1:05 PM.
Tuesday Injury Report (estimated practice report with the Colts holding a walk-through)
-DNP: DT-DeForest Buckner (ankle), OT-Will Holden (ankle), QB-Philip Rivers (toe), CB-Rock Ya-Sin (concussion)
Bowen Analysis: Ya-Sin seems to be on a slower path back than Willis.
-Limited: RB-Jonathan Taylor (shoulder), CB-T.J. Carrie (ankle/shoulder)
Bowen Analysis: Seeing Taylor on this list isn’t ideal, but anytime a player participates on the first day of on-field work, it’s a good sign. Same thing with Carrie, who could be needed to start again in the nickel personnel grouping.
-Full: S-Khari Willis (concussion)
Bowen Analysis: This is a good step in the right direction of Willis returning this weekend.