Listen Live

INDIANAPOLISIt’s a bit of a jumbled week for the Indianapolis Colts.

With Thanksgiving here, the Colts (4-6-1) will host the Steelers (3-7) in the team’s first Monday night home game since September 2015.

What did we learn from the Colts first practice of the week?

  • The Colts are sticking with the youth at left tackle and right guard. That’s rookie Bernhard Raimann at left tackle and second-year pro Will Fries at right guard. On Wednesday, Jeff Saturday went into detail on those decisions, beginning with a coach from an old coach: “It’s always easier to fire guys but who do you hire?” Saturday began. “If guys are having a hard time, our job is to coach them to be better and into the players that we know they can be. The effort is there. The technique is getting there. They’re getting better every week. And I think you continue to get better each week, when you get reps and you see things happen that you can now apply to the next week. And so it’s not going to be perfect, no player is, but my expectation is they take strides each and every week of being better players. And so we put the onus on them, ‘Listen, this is this is your craft. What do you need to do to get yourself prepared and what can we do to help you get prepared.’ But I think both those guys (Fries and Raimann) understand each week I want to see progression and so far I have.”

 

  • On the note above, the subpar play of the offensive line this season has limited opportunities to tap into a vertical passing game. With just 2 passing plays of more than 40 yards this year, the Colts rank 30th in the NFL creating those big plays through the air. On Wednesday, Matt Ryan gave his thoughts on the limitations in finding things over the top: “Part of it is just you have to have enough time to be able to do some of the things you want to do, to push the ball down the field,” Ryan said. “And we just have haven’t been consistent enough throughout the year. I really think we made some strides, we did some good things, last week. We made too many mistakes (though). But we have to find ways. We have to find ways to stretch the field vertically, get some chances, create explosive plays. It becomes too difficult when every drive you are not getting those chunk plays. I think Parks (Frazier) has done a good job the last two weeks. We have to continue to look during the week to try and do that. Hopefully we can get better at that.”

 

  • Was a Tuesday roster move an indicator of Kwity Paye (right ankle) missing even more time? The Colts signed Bengals DE-Khalid Kareem off Cincinnati’s practice squad. That means Kareem, who is a Notre Dame product, must stay on Indy’s active roster for at least 3 weeks. Kareem is not a big sack guy (1 in 31 career games), but is known for being a reliable, steady early-down defensive end. The Colts could use some DE help right now with Paye’s absence, Tyquan Lewis done for the season and Yannick Ngakoue/Dayo Odeyingbo having their playing time really rise as of late.

 

  • Earlier this week, the Colts worked out a trio of tight ends. While some saw that workout and figured it meant something on the Jelani Woods’ injury front (Woods was practicing on Wednesday), it’s more the lack of consistency from the tight end position this season. In the Frank Reich era, the tight end usage has started to dwindle a bit. The group is averaging a little more than 4 catches per game (46 catches in 11 games) this season, which is down from what you had in the 2018-20 seasons.

 

  • For those still believing in the Colts (4-6-1) and their playoff chances, those hopes are decreasing by the week. Per analytics site FiveThirtyEight, the Colts have an 18 percent chance at a playoff berth and a 2 percent chance at the AFC South. When you look at the final 6 games, anything short of going 5-1 probably means the Colts are watching the postseason for a second straight year. Here are the final 6 games: Steelers, at Cowboys, at Vikings, Chargers, at Giants, Texans. Does Monday against the Steelers feel like a must win? “I sure hope they feel that right now,” Jeff Saturday said of his players on Wednesday. “The way I see it, they’re all (must wins). When I got here, they are all must wins…when you’re staring at where we are and trying to make a push.”

 

  • Coming up on Monday, the Colts will be wearing their 1956 throwback uniforms, with cheerleaders wearing throwbacks too. You’ll notice two horseshoes on the back of players helmets, numbers a bit higher on the shoulders and three stripes on the jerseys/socks.

 

 

  • Monday pits the 31st ranked team in scoring differential (Steelers, -74) vs. the 27th ranked team (Colts, -47). First one to 17 points wins on Monday Night Football?

 

  • With a Monday night game, the first injury report of the week gets pushed back a day this week. The list of Colts not spotted at the first practice of the week, during the open media availability, included: Parris Campbell, Ryan Kelly, Kwity Paye, DeForest Buckner, Stephon Gilmore, Rodney McLeod.

 

  • This has no bearing on Monday night, but the Steelers have won 7 straight over the Colts. The last win for Indianapolis over Pittsburgh came with Jeff Saturday snapping to Peyton Manning in 2008. The last three meetings have been close though, with the Steelers winning those by a combined 9 points. The three before that though were losses by 21, 35, 17 points.

 

  • The Colts will have a different schedule this week with Thanksgiving followed by a Monday game. The 3 days of practice will be Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, taking Thanksgiving Thursday off, before Monday’s kickoff at 8:15 PM.