INDIANAPOLIS – Game week is here.
To open up the 2022 season, the Colts are hitting the road to take on the Texans this Sunday afternoon.
What did we learn from the Colts having their first regular season practice of the season on Wednesday?
- Are 3 practices this week enough for Shaquille Leonard to play on Sunday? That’s the question hanging over the uncertainty of Leonard playing in the season opener. Leonard practiced two days last week, his first on-field practice work since January. He was expected to practice fully on Wednesday, with the plan for him to practice again on Thursday and Friday. If Leonard is able to practice all 3 days this week, is that enough for clearance to play Sunday: “I really don’t want to back myself into a corner because it’s Shaq,” Reich began. “Sometimes you get these guys who are superstar like players and you say, ‘Hey, I would never do this. But you might do it for him.’ I typically would think you’d need more than three practices. But I don’t know. Could he practice 3 practices and play 15 plays in the game? I think we’re just going to take it day-by-day. I’m happy with the progress that’s he’s making. But he just needs more action. He just needs more action engaged to gauge exactly what it’s going to feel like. He’s been cleared, so he can do everything he needs to do but like we said, he’s far from 100 percent. But that’s ok. He can play at 80 percent. And that’s kind of the number I have in my mind. I don’t know if my 80 percent equals what his 80 percent is? That was something Marv Levy used to say. ‘You get to 80 percent you are good, you can play, you can figure out how to play winning football.’ So we just have to talk through that and see what that looks like.” Reich added that he thinks Leonard is in ‘decent shape’ cardiovascular wise, but there’s a step to getting to football shape.”
- The Colts captains for 2022, voted on by players, will be as followed: Matt Ryan, Quenton Nelson, Jonathan Taylor, DeForest Buckner, Shaquille Leonard, Kenny Moore, Zaire Franklin. Just a reminder on captains from last year: Carson Wentz, Quenton Nelson, T.Y. Hilton, DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard, Zaire Franklin.
- While the Colts and Texans have obvious history together, so does new quarterback Matt Ryan with the type of defense he will see on Sunday. Ryan has faced a Lovie Smith team/defense on 7 different occasions in his career. If you combine those meetings against the Bears and the Bucs, Ryan is 180-of-255 (70.5 percent), averaging 282.3 yards per game, throwing 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Ryan-led teams have gone 5-2 in those Smith meetings, averaging 25 points per game (with a high of 56 in one of those meetings).
- If this was Week 5 and the Texans were on the schedule, would many/any Colts fans be too worried? The scar tissue from Week 1 struggles (see more below) has to be the main reason for uneasiness entering Sunday. Because the Texans have offered little resistance against the Colts in recent years. Frank Reich teams have won 4 of the 5 meetings all-time in Houston. The Colts swept the Texans last year by scores of 31-0 and 31-3. Currently, the Colts are favored by 8 points for Sunday, which is the largest spread of any Week 1 opponent.
- Yep, we have to point out the elephant in the room. The Colts have lost 8 straight season openers. The last win in Week 1 was beating Terrelle Pryor and the Oakland Raiders to begin the 2013 season. So, it’s 4 straight season-opening losses for Frank Reich to begin his head coaching career, after 4 straight Week 1 losses to end the Chuck Pagano tenure.
- As expected, the Colts will start two rookies in Sunday’s season opener. Mike Strachan moving up the depth chart and Ben Banogu moving down were a couple of other depth chart takeaways I had.
- Besides Leonard, a couple of injury notes lingering from August: Kwity Paye (knee) is practicing and Reich says is taking the right steps to play on Sunday. Isaiah Rodgers (concussion) has cleared concussion protocol and is back practicing. Neither player showed up on the injury report following Wednesday’s practice. In fact, all 53 Colts practiced on Wednesday (OT-Dennis Kelly was the only player limited). That’s a far cry from last year’s Week 1 injury report, when the Colts had 3 guys miss the opener and another 2 questionable.
- The Colts are on their normal practice schedule this week (Wednesday-Friday). They’ll have a Saturday walk-through before traveling to Houston for Sunday’s 1:00 PM kickoff.
Wednesday Injury Report
-Limited: OT-Dennis Kelly (knee)
–Full: LB-Shaquille Leonard (back)