Colts/Bears Tuesday Notebook: New Running Back Bodies Coming To Indianapolis
Colts/Bears Tuesday Notebook: New Running Back Bodies Coming To Indianapolis
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INDIANAPOLIS – Still without their starting quarterback, the Colts were back to practice on Tuesday afternoon, as they now shift their attention away from Training Camp mode.
The Colts will practice the next three days, ahead of Saturday’s preseason contest against the Chicago Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Here are some tidbits from the Colts returning to their facility and getting back to practice:
- On Monday, some curiosity arose from fans when we saw the Colts sign two running backs (Charcandrick West and Marqis Young). And then the team signed another running back (James Williams) on Tuesday morning. The reason for adding three running backs in two days is because of current injuries on two RBs that look to be on the right side of the 53-man roster bubble: Jonathan Williams (ribs) and Jordan Wilkins (foot). “Really necessary to bring in the 3 guys that we brought in,” Frank Reich said on Tuesday. “We just need to get that position right. We need to have some depth and we need to figure out and see how everything is going to unfold with Jordan, with Jonathan and just need to make sure that we are ready to go.” Reich listed Wilkins as ‘week-to-week’ and said there’s still a chance the second-year back could return for the season opener. If not, that will certainly impact roster crunching numbers. Also, on D’Onta Foreman heading to IR because of a torn bicep, it looked like the injury occurred when he was attempting a block early in the 4th quarter against the Browns. Foreman stayed in the game, playing 7 total snaps, with 1 carry for -1 yard and 1 catch for 6 yards.
- It sounds like Parris Campbell (hamstring) could be missing another week. Frank Reich did say Campbell took a positive step forward in his hamstring rehab earlier this week, but it’s not likely the speedy receiver returns to practice yet. Technically, though, the Colts haven’t completely ruled Campbell out of the next 3 days. With Campbell’s injury situation lasting now more than three weeks, it’s starting to strengthen Zach Pascal’s grip on making the 53-man roster as a 6th wideout. Will the Colts be able to count on Campbell at all in Week One? If that’s a question, Pascal looks to be moving closer to being on this team (if he’s not already).
- One of the definite position battles remaining is the 4th tight end spot between Ross Travis and Hale Hentges. It could very well come down to what the Colts want: more of the receiver/higher ceiling guy in Travis, or the blocker/more consistent guy in Hentges. Frank Reich acknowledged that battle on Tuesday: “We look at it as two different positions, not completely, but pretty much,” Reich said. “Obviously with Ross being in the mold of Ebron, and Hale being in the mold of Jack and the roles that play within our offense. That’s the mix Chris (Ballard) and I talk about a lot when it comes down to roster spots and how all that plays out. They both look good.” Reich also noted that some of those decisions gets made on what “we are planning on doing offensively, and what we are planning on emphasizing.” Is that more of the run game in 2019? This will be a fun battle to watch over the last two weeks of the preseason.
- Frank Reich was asked on Tuesday about the struggling run game we’ve seen from the starters in the first two weeks of the preseason. In the preseason opener, the Colts offensive line was missing starters Anthony Castonzo and Ryan Kelly. On Saturday, just Quenton Nelson was missing from the starting O-line. All 5 starters were back practicing together on Tuesday and that’s something Reich believes will help this week, as the Colts do some game planning for the Bears. “Why I feel confident and why I’m not like overly stressed that we have not run the ball well in 2 preseason games, is there’s a lot of parts that are moving,” Reich said on Tuesday. “I see the drill work. I see all the independent moving parts. I see the personnel. I see the schemes. I know what we’re doing and what we’re not doing from a game plan standpoint. Those give me reason to be confident and optimistic.”
- We will have to wait until later in the week before knowing how much action the starters will get on Saturday. While Week Three of the preseason is usually called the ‘regular season dress rehearsal’ Frank Reich has yet to commit on playing time for the starters: “We will play the frontline guys this week, I’m not sure how much yet,” Reich said before the Colts’ first practice of the week. “We are still in discussion about how many series that’s going to be. Some of that just depends on how we feel about the health and strength of the team.” In general, we’ve seen playing time for starters around the league really decrease this preseason. “I think there’s been a really big change,” Reich said. “It feels to me, there’s been this strong movement to barely play your guys in the preseason. There’s just limited roster spots. You want to be healthy. You want to put your best players on the field. It’s a fine line, a very fine line. You just do what you have to do to get ready and be smart as well. So we are trying to balance that all out."
- In regards to injuries for the Colts this camp, Frank Reich said on Tuesday that the Colts have been pretty healthy (compared to last year), when looking at the numbers from Grand Park. Even though the Colts had shorter practices this year, they were able to get more actual reps in at camp. “Our strength and conditioning staff gave me a printout the other day, of average reps per player,” Reich said on Tuesday. “I could get into all the intricacies of it, but basically all it said was we’ve been healthier this camp. So as a result we’ve run more plays than we did last year, with less plays per individual. More plays, but less plays per individual. So less stress because we’ve been healthier and had fewer injuries. I think that was encouraging. I think the strength staff and those guys and the players did a great job of doing the things necessary to try and stay healthy throughout Training Camp.”
- Practice is now closed to the media/public as the Colts turn to regular season mode. So we don’t see a whole a lot past special teams/individual drills. But we did see Nyheim Hines take the first kick return rep on Tuesday. It’s pretty evident that the Colts really want to expand Hines’ role to some return duties, but that’s no guarantee it will happen for the start of the regular season. Chester Rogers and Zach Pascal remain the top returners on the depth chart.
- The quarterback guru Tom House was back at Colts practice on Tuesday. House has been a frequent visitor to practices this month, trying to help Andrew Luck maintain his mechanics throughout this injury ordeal. Remember, when House began working with Luck back a couple of years ago a heavy emphasis was placed on re-tooling the QB’s throwing motion with more of a focus on the lower body. It will be interesting to see if Luck’s persistent lower body/lower leg injury this offseason has had any impact on his motion.
- Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is the only healthy starter for the Colts to have yet to play this preseason. And Hilton isn’t too worried about if he suits up this Saturday, in what would be the last time we see him before the start of the regular season. Hilton has played in the preseason in every single year of his NFL career. “It doesn’t matter,” Hilton says of him sitting out the preseason. ‘It’s up to the coaches. If they need me out there, I’ll be out there.”
- Looking for Tuesday’s Andrew Luck update? The quarterback will not practice again this week, marking 15 straight session that he has sat out. Outside of just believing Luck will gut it out, and seeing the video we saw from Saturday’s pre-game, there’s not much evidence adding up to No. 12 definitely being under center for the regular season opener.
- Here were the Colts who did not appear to be practicing on Tuesday: DE-Jabaal Sheard (sore knee, has missed 16 straight practices), WR-Parris Campbell (has missed 13 straight practices), QB-Andrew Luck (calf/ankle, has missed 13 straight practices), K-Adam Vinatieri (knee, has missed 8 straight practices), RB-Jordan Wilkins (foot, has missed 12 straight practices), RB-Jonathan Williams (ribs), LB-Matthew Adams. The guys that looked to be returning to practice on Tuesday included: WR-Penny Hart (hamstring), QG-Quenton Nelson (left ankle), DT-Tyquan Lewis.
- If you are looking for good news on the running back dept chart, Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines have been healthy for every single practice of camp. Those are the team’s top two backs, so their health is especially important right now, given how banged up the depth is right now.
- The Colts will practice again on Wednesday and Thursday before their regular season dress rehearsal game against the Bears on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.