Colts Friday Notebook: Howard Mudd Steps Down
Colts Friday Notebook: Howard Mudd Steps Down
Joe Robbins | Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS – One final walk-through remains before the Colts board a plane and head to Los Angeles for their season opener against the Chargers on Sunday.
The Colts had a practice on Friday, and are ruling out just two players for Week 1: DE-Jabaal Sheard (knee) and RB-Jonathan Williams (ribs).
Here are some tidbits from the final practice of the week:
- Frank Reich began his Friday press conference by announcing that 77-year-old assistant Howard Mudd has stepped down from his position as a senior offensive consultant. Two weeks ago, the Colts had said Mudd would no longer be attending practice. Reich said the decision was not due to a physical ailment for Mudd, who was using a golf cart during Training Camp practices to get around. “Within the last week or so, (Mudd) had mentioned that he thought his time was coming and great on your own terms he was able to do that, doing his job of what we asked him to do,” Reich said on Friday. For what it’s worth, Mudd said the presence of Andrew Luck was one of the reasons he came out of retirement to join close friend Chris Strausser, who is the new offensive line coach in 2019. “Much of what I’ve learned in the run game, and in the protection world is from my first time here with Howard,” Reich added. “His contributions the last 6 months have been tremendous. For me personally, it’s been really rewarding because Howard and I were pretty close back then and still remain close.” When the Colts hired Mudd earlier this year, there were no specific parameters on how long Mudd would continue to coach. “There was no set timeline,” Reich said on Friday. “It was, ‘Hey, come back and help us out. Make sure it fits your expectations and how you see it at this point in your career and life.’”
- To no one’s surprise, the Colts have ruled DE-Jabaal Sheard (knee) OUT for Sunday’s opener. Sheard hasn’t practiced since July 25, with this absence now spanning more than 6 weeks. Without Sheard, expect the Colts to start DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad, who filled in for a few games late last season. On pass downs, the Colts could turn to Kemoko Turay (who is questionable) or Ben Banogu, opposite Justin Houston.
- With RB-Jonathan Williams (ribs) OUT, look for RB-Jordan Wilkins (ankle) to be that third running back. Wilkins, who is officially listed at questionable, practiced all week after missing a month of camp. Williams was jogging on the side practice field during Friday’s practice, but he hasn’t participated in practice in 3 weeks.
- Second-year defensive end Kemoko Turay (neck) is questionable after being limited on Thursday and missing Friday’s practice. Turay is this team’s top speed rusher off the edge and figures to have a role in 2019, especially with Jabaal Sheard out. Turay has missed time before due to a neck injury.
- Cornerback Kenny Moore (thumb) will play on Sunday with a big club on his right hand. Rocking the gaudy looking club, Moore had two interceptions during Friday’s practice, according to Reich. “I was kidding with (Moore) the other day, ‘Are you going to be able to catch it if you get your hands on it?’” Reich said of his conversation with the young corner. “He got his hands on two of them today and came down with both of them.” Typically, with Friday being a situational practice specific to the game plan, the starting defense is going against the scout team offense. So, the guess is Moore’s interceptions came against Brian Hoyer, and not Jacoby Brissett.
- When asked about the return duties for Sunday, Frank Reich confirmed WR-Chester Rogers will handle things on punt return, but wouldn’t commit to a kick returner. WR-Zach Pascal is the ‘starting’ kick returner on the depth chart. And RB-Nyheim Hines is behind him. We’ve also seen WR-Parris Campbell taking some reps back there as of late. If Pascal isn’t the kick returner on Sunday, will he even be active? If the Colts do want him active, having 6 wideouts dressing on game day is quite a lot.
- Frank Reich isn’t expecting or worrying about sloppiness from his team in the opener. But he is concerned about penalties: “The one thing we need to make sure of is the penalties. I think that will be big for us. We’ve made a really big emphasis on that, all throughout Training Camp. We just need to keep those penalties down.”
- T.Y. Hilton didn’t take a single preseason game rep for the first time in his career. Is Frank Reich worried? “I have zero concern about T.Y. being rusty in anyway,” Reich said on Friday. “He’s worked tremendously well. He’s ready to go.”
- One key player for Sunday is DT-Denico Autry. With the timing of Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers so efficient, a guy like Autry disrupting and altering the interior of his pocket will be huge. And it sounds like Autry has seen some deficiencies in a Chargers offensive line that will be without left tackle Russell Okung: “I’ve seen a couple spots I like,” Autry said with a laugh on The Fan Morning Show earlier this week.
- Sports betting is now legal in the state of Indiana. So, if Colts fans want, many could make some money off of the new 7.5 wins over/under for the 2019 team, assuming the vast majority of fans are right. This Twitter poll I ran had 88 percent of fans believing the Colts will win at least 8 games, and 74% thinking they will have a better than .500 season.
- A sign of the Colts improved depth in 2019: There’s 6 guys who were on the Colts’ 90-man roster, that are now on 53-man rosters elsewhere around the NFL. You have these guys in the following places: OT-J’Marcus Webb (Dolphins), C-Evan Boehm (Dolphins), S-Matthias Farley (Jets), CB-Nate Hairston (Jets), CB-Chris Milton (Titans). You could even throw in DT-Hassaan Ridgeway (Eagles), who was traded during April’s Draft. Outside of Hairston or Milton, it was hard to see any of these guys making Indy’s 53-man roster. In return for those guys leaving, the Colts got a new 6th round pick (for Hairston), improved a later round selection (for Boehm), got new cornerback Ryan Lewis (for Milton) and have rookie C-Javon Patterson (for Ridgeway) on IR. That’s the needed depth evolvement in trying to be a team built for sustained success.
- It’s looking very, very good that Hale Hentges will be on this roster come Sunday afternoon. That means Hentges will extend the Colts’ streak to 21 straight years of Indianapolis having an undrafted free agent on the 53-man roster. Some of the notable UDFA names over that span: RB-Dominic Rhodes (2001), DE-Raheem Brock (2002), LB-Gary Brackett (2003), TE-Jack Doyle (2013), CB-Kenny Moore (2017).
- Why do so many fans feel good about the Colts under Jacoby Brissett this time around? They remember the incompetence of the coaching staff during that 2017 season. The Colts went 4-12 that season. In that year, they had 9 halftime leads, yet went 2-7 in those games. Analytics guru Warren Sharp found the stat that the Colts became the only team in the last 27 years to lose at least 7 games in a season, in which they led at halftime. Taking it a step further, the Colts had a 4th quarter lead in 9 games that year, yet won just 4 of those games. That will make you bang your head against the wall.
- On Friday, Chris Ballard accepted his Executive of the Year Award from the Pro Football Writers of America.
FINAL INJURY REPORT
-OUT: DE-Jabaal Sheard (knee), RB-Jonathan Williams (ribs)
-QUESTIONABLE: RB-Jordan Wilkins (ankle), DE-Kemoko Turay (neck)
The following players were on the injury report earlier this week, but have been removed and are good to go for Sunday: WR-Devin Funchess (back), CB-Kenny Moore (right thumb), S-Clayton Geathers (not injury related).