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INDIANAPOLISFor a second straight week, the Colts will be in the Saturday national spotlight against a playoff team.

It’ll be the Colts (8-6) traveling to take on the Arizona Cardinals (10-4) in Week 15, for an 8:15 PM kickoff.

Here are some takeaways from the Colts returning to practice on Tuesday:

  • The Colts are fully supporting Ryan Kelly and his family right now as they deal with the tragic loss of their daughter Mary Kate last week. Kelly missed last Thursday’s final practice of the week and then the Patriots game. Understandably, the Colts are putting no pressure on a return date for Kelly, who didn’t practice on Tuesday. “Just continuing to have daily communication with (Kelly),” Frank Reich said on Tuesday. “What we’ve said to Ryan is, ‘Take all the time you need. We are 100 percent behind you. We are here to support you and when you are ready to take that step, then we are right here.’ I’m not going to push that. As far as I know, it could be tomorrow, it could be a week from now. Whatever it its, we are 100 percent behind him. These situations, I think we all know in life, there’s no perfect formula for how to handle these situations. Everybody has to go through their process as a family in the mourning and the healing steps that it takes. I’m proud to work for an organization where what Mr. Irsay says, I know that’s true. I’ve seen that be true for 4 years, not just in this case but in a lot of cases as well.”

 

  • We saw DeForest Buckner line up at defensive end on Saturday and dial up a big sack of Mac Jones. This isn’t something we see often from the 6-7, 295-pound Buckner. But this is how Matt Eberflus and his defensive staff handle the pass rush plan each week. They first analyze the opposing team’s offensive linemen, figure out strengths and weaknesses for each and then see where their own rushers would be best utilized. Clearly, the Colts thought the strengths of Buckner would be tough for Patriots LT-Isaiah Wynn to handle. Again, this isn’t something that new for the Colts. They are open to moving their defensive linemen around each week based off the opponent’s O-line personnel. It’ll be interesting to watch the Colts rush the uber-elusive Kyler Murray this week.

 

  • No one is expecting the Cots passing offense to be throwing for 300 yards right now, given the huge run game production, but the staff knows the efficiency of the passing game must improve. “Our identity is what it is, it’s a run-first deal, but I think chunk play, play-action stuff, RPO stuff, I do think Carson has had many good games, I think for us to go where we want to go, I think there are going to be games where Carson will be the quote on quote star of the game, I think that will have to happen,” Reich said. A key efficiency number that Reich uses to evaluate a passing offense is a yards per attempt baseline of 7.5 YPA. Wentz and the Colts have been above that mark just once in the last two months. They’ve had a yards per attempt number below 6.0 in 5 of their last 8 games. Is this passing offense capable of handling a heavier load at some point this season?

 

  • Good news for Jonathan Taylor this weekend: The Cardinals rank 27th in yards per carry allowed. And they just allowed a guy by the name of Craig “Netflix” Reynolds run for 112 yards on 26 carries in last week’s 30-12 loss to the lowly Lions. The nickname ‘Netflix’ came from Reynolds’ Lions teammates describing what Craig had been doing before joining the team a few weeks back.

 

  • The Colts are still hovering around that lofty 40-takeaway goal from the start of the season. With 31 takeaways, the Colts lead the NFL in the turnover category. They have gone 15 straight games with a takeaway. The NFL’s next longest active streak is 10 games.

 

  • On Tuesday, the Colts announced WR-T.Y. Hilton is their Ed Block Courage Award winner, which is an annual award given for courageous play by an individual. “Thank you to my teammates for selecting me for this prestigious award,” Hilton said in a team release. “I take pride in representing the Horseshoe for my family, friends, teammates and the fans. I’ve long admired many of the past winners and it’s humbling to now be included in that group.”

 

  • The Pro Bowl rosters for 2021 will be announced on Wednesday. I see around 6-ish Pro Bowlers for the Colts: Jonathan Taylor (Already chosen), Darius Leonard, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Kenny Moore, Ashton Dulin, DeForest Buckner.

 

  • Defensive backs Andrew Sendejo (concussion) and Rock Ya-Sin (non-COVID illness) missed Tuesday’s practice.

 

  • For a second straight week, the Colts have bumped up their normal practice schedule routine (normally Wednesday-Friday) by a day, due to playing on Saturday. They’ll have a Friday walk-through before traveling to take on the Cardinals at 8:15 PM on Saturday.