INDIANAPOLIS – The smell of regular season football was in the air at West 56th Street on Wednesday afternoon.
With their first official regular season practice of the season, the Colts began serious preparations for the Seattle Seahawks in Week One.
Here is what we learned on Wednesday:
- The boxes continue to be checked in Carson Wentz being ready to go for Sunday’s opener. Wentz was fully participating at Wednesday’s practice, another important sign in him being ready to go for Week 1. As you’d expect, Wentz woke up pretty excited on Wednesday morning for his first game week with the Colts. When asked on Wednesday about any pain in his foot injury rehab, Wentz said there’s ‘been some moments (of pain)’ but he feels like he’s in a good spot. Wentz is awaiting final clearance from the doctors before he gets the full, neon, green light for Sunday.
- Eric Fisher (Achilles) got his first practice time as a member of the Colts on Wednesday, as a limited participant. “I look at (Fisher) and think, ‘He’s ready to go,’” Frank Reich said on Wednesday. “But he hasn’t done anything in 10 days (coming off the COVID-list). We are going to measure that out over the next couple of days…what I want to be guilty of is, ‘Let’s push it.’ We can pull him back. Let’s try to get him ready right now, try to get him ready to play this week. Maybe that’s not realistic, but let’s try and then we can always pull back.’” Reich definitely didn’t rule out Fisher for Sunday’s opener, but it still seems like a stretch for the left tackle to be ready with just 3 practices, when he’s going to be limited in some, if not all, of those sessions, after missing 8 months of action, plus a 10-day absence from the team due to a positive COVID-19 test.
- So, DeForest Buckner played last season clubbed up on his right hand, due to a torn fourth MCP joint in his right hand. And he still had an impressive 9.5 sacks and 26 quarterbacks hits in 15 games played. What can Buckner do with two, healthy functioning hands? That’s a scary thought for opponents. Buckner thinks it’s a ‘game changer’ to have that surgery out of the way, and now the full use of both hands to disengage blockers/make tackles.
- No Xavier Rhodes (calf) at practice on Wednesday is definitely something to watch. Frank Reich said this injury is something the Colts need to take ‘day-by-day.’ Now, Rhodes didn’t miss a single game last season, but was banged up on various occasions throughout the year. Perhaps more than any game this season, the presence of Rhodes is so vital. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, plus Russell Wilson, compile one of the more dangerous and diverse passing attacks in the NFL. If Rhodes can’t go, that would mean Rock Ya-Sin on the field for probably every snap, and likely an increased role for T.J. Carrie, who has missed some time as of late due to a groin injury. Rhodes is a name to watch the next few days. Kenny Moore was practicing on Wednesday after getting banged up early in Monday’s practice.
- Quenton Nelson did not practice on Wednesday, due to a back injury that occasionally flares up, and not because of the foot surgery he had last month. Frank Reich said the Colts wanted to try and get ahead of things by having Nelson sit out on Wednesday, hoping to get him back on track. Nelson has had a back issue for the past year or so. Including his foot surgery in August, Nelson had two other surgeries this offseason. Nelson has yet to miss a game in his NFL career due to injury, and Reich still says the All-Pro has a chance to play on Sunday. Having said that, given how much time Nelson has missed over the past month and now this lingering issue, it’s not a slam dunk that No. 56 will be in the lineup for Sunday’s opener. Does that mean Julie’n Davenport and Chris Reed are starting on the left side of the line?
- Voted on by their teammates, the Colts have 6 captains for the 2021 season: Offense-Carson Wentz, T.Y. Hilton, Quenton Nelson; Defense-DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard; Special Teams: Zaire Franklin. Obviously, you can’t name everyone a captain, but I’m a little surprised Kenny Moore will not wear the ‘C’ on his chest this season.
- Frank Reich has always been extremely high on Parris Campbell. Just look at all the targets and playing time Campbell got in last year’s season opener (6 grabs for 71 yards). That hasn’t changed after Campbell’s knee injury in Week Two of last year. “I really think the sky is the limit for Parris,” Reich says. “I think it’s just a matter of time. I think it’s going to take a couple of years for that to fully develop. But I think we’ve seen flashes of it, and I think it’s going to continue to get better. God willing, he will stay healthy this year and take that next step.”
- When you’ve lost 7 straight season openers—the longest streak in the NFL—that’s going to irritate you. That’s been the case for Jim Irsay, with his franchise having yet to win a Week 1 game since 2013. On the eve of training camp, Irsay told the team of his displeasure in the season opener droughts. “We know it’s a big deal, especially when it’s the home opener, especially when your owner is letting you know it’s a big deal,” Frank Reich said on Wednesday of the franchise’s issues in Week 1. “I think we’ve all got that message. For sure, I’d like to deliver (Irsay) one of those here before too long.”
- The Colts will have two more practices this week (Thursday and Friday) before a Saturday walk-through ahead of Sunday’s season opener against the Seahawks.
–Did Not Practice: OG-Quenton Nelson (back), CB-Xavier Rhodes (calf)
Bowen Analysis: Yep, these are two pretty important names to watch when the Colts get back to practice on Thursday.
-Limited: OT-Eric Fisher (Achilles), WR-Parris Campbell (Achilles), G-Danny Pinter (foot), DE-Kemoko Turay (groin)
Bowen Analysis: Wednesday was the first time Fisher has practiced with the Colts, marking his return to the field for the first time since tearing his Achilles in late January. It’s never good to see Campbell and Turay on this list. Campbell was very healthy throughout camp. Turay did miss some time, but that was due to a shoulder injury. Pinter is starting to ramp things back up after missing several weeks to end camp.
-Full: QB-Carson Wentz (foot)
Bowen Analysis: Good news on the Wentz front continues.