INDIANAPOLIS – Finally, it’s time to go play a football game.
Before that though, the Colts (3-5-1) still had a few more news items on Friday.
What did we learn from the Colts final practice of the week, before they get ready to take on the Raiders (2-6)?
- Shaquille Leonard (back, ankle) suffered a setback in his continued building back to 100 percent during Wednesday’s practice. Leonard has undergone an MRI, with his status up in the air moving forward. He has been ruled out for Sunday after missing the final two days of practice this week. Leonard has played just 74 total defensive snaps this season (3 games). He played a season-high 34 snaps last week against the Patriots, before suffering the setback during Wednesday’s practice. Leonard wasn’t on the Wednesday injury report, so this latest issue developed following that first practice of the week. On Thursday, before the Colts held their second practice of the week, Leonard shared this on how he felt: “The past two games, I see myself moving around better, but it’s still not there,” Leonard told the media. “That nerve still isn’t firing into my calf. So it’s just a lot of film study. I think that’s the reason why I can play today is because of how much film that I’ve watched, and I got to put myself into position to make a play because I know I’m a step behind.” Leonard made his 2022 debut in Week 4, a game in which he suffered a concussion and broken nose. He returned in Week 8, playing 24 snaps, with his playing time rising to 32 last week. Given the length and inability to get a clear diagnosis on an ankle injury that needed summer back surgery, rest of Leonard’s 2022 season is certainly in question.
- Sam Ehlinger is the Colts starting QB, for now. Jeff Saturday made it very clear on Friday that the QB depth chart is a day-to-day thing, with Matt Ryan returning this week to be the backup. It’ll be the first time in Ryan’s 15-year career he will be a backup on game day. Nick Foles is now back to being the 3rd quarterback and will be inactive. Ryan returned to practice this week, participating on Thursday and Friday, which was his first work in three weeks. While Ryan was benched by the Colts following the loss to the Titans, he also missed the last two weeks with a right shoulder sprain. Earlier this week, Jim Irsay said to Colts beat reporters Mike Chappell and Bob Kravitz the decision to have Ehlinger start the rest of the season was Frank Reich’s. Irsay added that all 3 quarterbacks—Ehlinger, Ryan and Nick Foles—were available to the Colts the rest of the season. Saturday was adamant on Friday the decision on who to play at quarterback will be his decision going forward, and not Irsay’s. Following Friday’s final practice of the week, Saturday went out of his way to praise Ryan’s practice performance this week. If Ehlinger and the offense doesn’t find production soon, it’s very possible Ryan could get back in the lineup.
- Jonathan Taylor practiced all three days this week and should be back in the lineup on Sunday. It sounds like Zack Moss, who the Colts acquired in the Nyheim Hines trade, will be in line for some rotational carries, especially with Deon Jackson (knee) out this week. Time for another week of Jordan Wilkins called up from the practice squad?
- Tight end depth is going to be tested a bit this week. Rookie Jelani Woods (shoulder) is OUT. Mo Alie-Cox missed the first two days of practice this week, but did return on Friday. He’s got a chance to play on Sunday. Kylen Granson is the only fully healthy tight end on the 53-man roster. Could we see a tight end call-up from the practice squad on Saturday?
- Should we be looking for any other offensive line changes this week? Jeff Saturday has already said rookie Bernhard Raimann will start at left tackle. Will Matt Pryor maintain his starting job at right guard or is that going to be Will Fries? Remember, Pryor was benched in the first half of the loss to the Patriots.
- Jeff Saturday said on Friday he’s spent about 85 percent of his time in the offensive meetings this week, letting Gus Bradley and Bubba Ventrone handle their respective units. Part of Saturday’s thought with that is the offensive staff is down two coaches, with the firings of Frank Reich and Marcus Brady. Again, it’ll be Parks Frazier calling the plays for the first time in his coaching life.
- Jackson, Leonard and Woods are the 3 Colts ruled out for Sunday’s 4:05 PM kick in Las Vegas.