INDIANAPOLIS – Let the good COVID-19 news continue for the Indianapolis Colts.
On Friday, the Colts activated DT-DeForest Buckner from the COVID-19/reserve list, and it sounds like he’ll play on Sunday. The return of Buckner means he was asymptomatic with his positive COVID-19 test (10-day absence).
“You could definitely feel DeForest’s presence out there today,” Frank Reich said after the final practice of the week. “There were a couple of times where I looked across the ball and DeForest was just flying, flying across the ball. You could just feel him out on the field.”
Along with Buckner, the Colts have fellow COVID-19 list guys—Denico Autry and Jonathan Taylor—removed and ready to go for Sunday
Any pitch counts for them?
“We’ll monitor them as they go, but we are feeling pretty good with where they are at,” Reich said. “We have a plan for each one of them. They might not be the exact same plan for each one of them obviously, but feel like they will each be able to fill the roles they normally play.”
Here are some other Friday takeaways on the Colts:
- Remember those DeForest Buckner related stats we mentioned in Thursday’s notebook? Oh yeah, Buckner means a whole lot. It goes without saying how important he is to the Colts effort. The Colts have now gotten all three COVID list players back this week: Buckner (Friday), Denico Autry (Thursday) and Jonathan Taylor (Wednesday).
- We pointed out some of the astonishing Anthony Castonzo numbers earlier this week. The Colts are 2-11 in games without Castonzo, having averaged just 19 points per game in those contests. When Castonzo is on the field this season, the Colts are averaging scores on 47 percent of their offensive drives. Without Castonzo on the field, that number dips to 26 percent. The expectation remains Le’Raven Clark will start this Sunday, although Chaz Green (who missed Wednesday and Thursday’s practices due to a back injury) has not been ruled out. One more note on Castonzo, the Colts have not yet thought about putting him on injured reserve, which would force him to miss at least 3 games. “He didn’t practice (Friday) but he’s making good progress and we feel good about the progress he’s making,” Reich said of Castonzo on Friday.
- Frank Reich did rule out 4 players for Sunday: OT-Anthony Castonzo (knee), P-Rigoberto Sanchez (illness), S-Khari Willis (back, quad), LB-Bobby Okereke (ankle). The best guesses at the guys filling in those spots: LT-Clark, P-Ryan Allen, S-Tavon Wilson, LB-Anthony Walker.
- It’ll be Wilson’s first start with the Colts, but the veteran safety has started 43 career games. Wilson, 30, has played 55 defensive snaps for the Colts this season, but the staff has a lot of trust in him lining up next to Julian Blackmon. “Tavon is a real experienced, veteran guy, tough guy, really smart player,” Reich said on Friday. “Really glad he’s here. He’s been a great addition the whole year. He’ll have to step up and play winning football and we are confident he’ll do that…I remember when we first got him, you could feel his presence right away. He just has that veteran, savvy instinct. The other thing that you’ll see and you saw it last week, even with one hit, this guy is a hitter. He loves contact. Looking forward to that. He’ll make his presence felt out there for sure.”
- Philip Rivers (toe) practiced again on Friday and it sounds like this will be something he’s going to have to deal with for a few more weeks. “I thought physically he looked better today than he has in practice dealing with the toe/foot,” Reich said. “Feeling like he’s getting closer to where we want him to be.” Reich did say this is an injury that can be aggravated though: “What we are anticipating and hopeful for is that each week it gets one step better. I feel like we are there this week. He would tell you that he’s ahead of where he was last week. If we have no setbacks in the next week or two, it might be two more weeks where it’s no pain again. I’m just guessing based on discussions and experience and that sort of thing.”
- Do not let the Texans record of 4-7 fool you. They’ve won 3 of 4 and this might be the best individual season of Deshaun Watson’s 4-year career. Watson hasn’t thrown a pick in 210 straight pass attempts (longest streak in the NFL). He’s thrown 24 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, is averaging a career-best 8.8 yards per pass attempt and has a career-high passer rating of 112.5. Granted, Sunday will be the most depleted Watson’s wideout group has been all season.
- What are the Texans losing in WR-Will Fuller and CB-Bradley Roby both being busted for PEDs this week? Fuller ranks 5th in the NFL in yards per route run (2.56). Since Week Two, the Texans have either won or lost by one possession every game, besides a 35-20 loss to the Packers in Week 7. In that game, Roby played just 3 snaps due to injury. He’s a key presence in their secondary.
- Along with having a struggling defense in just about every category, the Texans rank dead last in the NFL in turnovers forced (just 8 in 11 games this season).
- Philip Rivers played against the Texans last season and was sacked a season-high 5 times. In that 27-20 loss to the Texans, Rivers was 31-of-46 for 318 yards and 2 TDs.
- One of my favorite philanthropic events the NFL does each year is the ‘My Cause My Cleats’ campaign. Players can wear customized cleats this week which help give attention and support to various charitable organizations of their choice. This is the 5th year the NFL has had this campaign. Head here for some of my favorite cleats this year.
- The Colts will have a Saturday morning walk-through, before they then head to Houston for Sunday’s kickoff at 1:00 PM.
FINAL Injury Report
-OUT: OT-Anthony Castonzo (knee), LB-Bobby Okereke (ankle), P-Rigoberto Sanchez (illness), S-Khari Willis (back, quad)
Bowen Analysis: It is good news that none of this quartet is on IR, which means the Colts feel all of them have the chance to play again this season, some sooner than others.
-Questionable: OT-Chaz Green (back), TE-Noah Togiai (knee)
Bowen Analysis: Togiai was added to the injury report on Friday after being limited at practice. Green’s work Friday was his only on-field work all week. He was full.
The following players were on the injury report this week but have since been removed: C-Ryan Kelly (knee), RB-Jordan Wilkins (ribs), CB-Isaiah Rodgers (knee), TE-Trey Burton (rest), DE-Justin Houston (rest), WR-Zach Pascal (knee), TE-Jack Doyle (rest), DL-Denico Autry (illness), DE-Kemoko Turay (ankle), QB-Philip Rivers (toe).