INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time in his NFL career, Patrick Mahomes will be playing inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.
It’ll be Jim Nantz, Tony Romo and Tracy Wolfson on the call for Sunday’s home opener, with the Colts (0-1-1) and Chiefs (2-0) kicking at 1:00 PM.
What did we learn from the Colts getting ready for the Chiefs?
- While Frank Reich’s message continues to follow along very similar lines (not overreacting to early-season struggles, still believe in their process), I thought he was more animated on Wednesday than I’ve seen him in quite some time. Again, Reich is typically a pretty subdued individual, especially in press conference settings. That’s just his personality. But I thought we saw an uptick in animation from Reich this Wednesday. Fielding constant questions about the state of things around his football team, Reich seemed to talk faster than normal, a tad louder and even used more body language. Is this a tad overthinking? Perhaps. But I’m trying to give you a glimpse into what the press conference felt like compared to how Reich is usually operating on the first major day of game prep.
- Some good news on the injury front? Both Michael Pittman (quad) and Alec Pierce (concussion) were practicing on Wednesday. Frank Reich seemed optimistic about both having a good chance to play this Sunday. Pierce was in a blue jersey at Wednesday and Reich said he has just one final step to clear in concussion protocol. Of course, as we saw last Wednesday, seeing how both of these guys respond at Thursday’s practice will be key after how last week evolved. On the Shaquille Leonard front, this is his 4th week of practice, but him playing on Sunday is certainly not a guarantee.
- Sunday will be the first game in Indianapolis for Patrick Mahomes. He does have a lot of history facing Gus Bradley defenses though. Mahomes has faced a Bradley-coordinated defense 7 different times in his career. The Chiefs went 6-1 in those games, scoring 23, 31, 24, 28, 38, 48 and 41 points in those contests. Mahomes has completed 65 percent of his passes while averaging 260 yards per game, tossing 15 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in those games.
- The Colts are saying that a starting offensive line is not imminent. Questions at left tackle are there though with Matt Pryor struggling, and rookie Bernhard Raimann rotating in for a couple of drives. If both Pryor and Raimann give you the same left tackle ability, shouldn’t the rookie get the nod there? One thing to keep in mind, Pryor has guard experience in this league. So, if the Colts wanted to try Raimann in an expanded left tackle role, they could move Pryor to right guard, thus moving Danny Pinter to the bench. Now, it should be noted that Raimann was not practicing on Wednesday. Raimann was walking very gingerly to observe Wednesday’s practice.
- Any blueprint involving slowing down/beating the Chiefs involves both sides of the ball. The Colts know this full well. They executed it in a 2019 victory over Mahomes and the Chiefs. In that 19-13 win, they controlled the clock with Marlon Mack carrying leading a committed rushing attack. The Colts ran the ball 45 times that night for 180 yards, helping the visiting Colts to have the ball for 15 minutes more than the Chiefs. So Jonathan Taylor and the Colts trying to replicate something like that is part of Sunday’s blueprint. The other would be consistent pressure with a four-man rush, allowing for 7 guys to drop into coverage. Accomplishing that is a major question. The Colts pass rush has been extremely quiet to start this season, with the only sacks for the defensive line group coming in overtime of Week 1 by Kwity Paye.
- As we pointed out before the season, the Colts Week 1 problems are more like ‘September problems.’ The Colts haven’t won a game in September since 2020. They are 0-4-1 in their last five September games. In Frank Reich’s 5 seasons as head coach, the Colts are 5-10-1 in September.
- The Colts are back on their normal practice schedule this week (Wednesday-Friday). They’ll have a Saturday walk-through before hosing Kansas City for Sunday’s home opener at 1:00.
Wednesday Injury Report
-Did Not Practice: OT-Bernhard Raimann (ankle)
Bowen Analysis: The rookie was hobbling a bit walking into Wednesday’s practice.
-Limited: DE-DeForest Buckner (hip), DE-Yannick Ngakoue (back), WR-Michael Pittman (quad)
Bowen Analysis: Buckner ended up playing last week after missing some practice time. It’s rare to see Ngakoue on an injury report.
-Full: LB-Darius Leonard (ankle), S-Julian Blackmon (shoulder), LB-Zaire Franklin (shoulder), WR-Alec Pierce (concussion), DT-Grover Stewart (shoulder)
Bowen Analysis: Several shoulder ailments to monitor the rest of the week.