Colts RB-Jonathan Taylor runs the ball up the middle.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 18: Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Philip Rivers (17) hands the football to Indianapolis Colts Running Back Jonathan Taylor (28) in game action during a NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals on October 18, 2020, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Colts Monday Notebook: Frank Reich Explains Running Back Play Time

INDIANAPOLIS Short week life is here for the Indianapolis Colts.

The on-field work will be limited and less intense this week with the Colts (5-3) heading to Nashville on Wednesday afternoon for a Thursday night matchup against the AFC South leading Titans (6-2).

What did we learn from the Colts on a very busy Monday of work?

  • A lot of chatter with Frank Reich on Monday about running back play time. Here were the running back snap counts for the Colts on Sunday: Jordan Wilkins: 23-of-68, 13 touches; Nyheim Hines: 23-of-68, 4 touches; Jonathan Taylor: 21-of-68, 8 touches. Reich says running back play time for the Colts is decided largely by RB position coach Tom Rathman, once the 15-play scripted portion of the game is over. Reich picks the running backs for those 15 plays, but then Rathman takes over the rotation from there, as the staff thinks that’s the most efficient way to handle those guys coming in and out. Reich said he sometimes interjects in the final few quarters, but leaves most of it up to Rathman’s vast experience of coaching that group in the NFL.
  • Let’s start with Nyheim Hines, who received 1 touch in the final three quarters of the game (a carry with 18 seconds to go in the game). “We design plays to go to Nyheim,” Frank Reich said on Monday when asked about Hines hardly touching it after the opening period. “He’s in the game plan every week. Sometimes they play different coverages and you get a different look and you have to go where the progression takes you. After coming off a game like he just had, usually what happens is they pay attention to you a little bit more the next week. Part B of that answer is I thought we effectively used DeMichael Harris (6 touches in 16 snaps) in that role, so it’s to our advantage as an offense to have more than one guy play the same role, I think that can do a good job of keeping teams off balance for those kind of plays that we like to get. It could be unfortunate for Nyheim. He wants all those plays, and we think he’s a great player and we’ll continue to feature him. But I also know and have experienced it through the years that a guy comes off a game like he just did and teams gear up for you. So you spread it around and complement it in other ways.”
  • And then Jonathan Taylor, who had just 1 carry after his costly fumble at the 1:11 mark of the first quarter. “We had 15 carries in the first half and 6 in the second half,” Reich noted as reasons for limiting/benching Taylor for a second straight week. “As far as (Sunday), that’s how it rolled. The Detroit game, it was more because Jordan had the hot hand. The plan yesterday was to roll the guys by committee and then we only had 4 plays in the third quarter. And the first time we touched the ball in the 4th quarter, we were down by 11 so it was a little bit more pass oriented.” Reich later added that he wanted to get Taylor more involved: “I wish Jonathan could have got more touches as the game went along. Jonathan came in and had a little bit of history in college of putting the ball on the ground. He’s come in here and has been flawless in that regard. You really wanted to get him back in and get his hands on the ball and shake that one off. But the flow of the game and the way plays were called and the whole deal, it just didn’t play out where we could get him a bunch more touches. But he’ll continue to get opportunities and we’ll continue to mix it up.”
  • Frank Reich pointed out that the Colts had 5 explosive runs on Sunday (runs of more than 10 yards). Now, 2 were by a wideout in DeMichael Harris getting to the perimeter for gains of 16 and 12 yards. Still, the Colts had probably their most efficient rushing day of the season, piling up 5.3 yards per carry against a really solid defense.
  • Jack Doyle (concussion) is very unlikely to play on Thursday, Reich said on Monday. With a short week, it’s always very difficult for a player to progress through the protocol enough in time to play on a Thursday. This would be Doyle’s second missed game of the season. Doyle was watching the start of Monday’s walk-through.
  • The Colts are monitoring the injury statuses for WR-T.Y. Hilton (groin) and DE-Kemoko Turay (ankle) this week. Turay, who has practiced 4 times in 13 months can be activated at any time. With the Colts having much more of a walk-through feel to this week’s practices, Hilton won’t be able to test out his injured groin enough in practice. Reich said the staff will have to do that with indoor workouts to see if Hilton can play on Thursday. Hilton was going through the stretching period of Monday’s walk-through.
  • Philip Rivers finished Sunday with an NFL-low for Week Nine 2.4 completed yards through the air on Sunday. That was a stark contrast from his season average of 5.2. Sunday’s performance led to the Colts having a yards per attempt of just 5.28, which was also easily a season-low, and one of the lowest of Rivers’ career. On Monday, Frank Reich again credited the Ravens for their Cover 2 looks in limiting the Colts recent pass game surge.
  • On Monday, the Colts (5-3) found out they will have some more eyes on them in Week 11, with their home game against the Packers (6-2) being moved to 4:25 PM on November 22nd. The game will air on FOX, with 12,500 fans again allowed inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.
  • The short week schedule for the Colts is as followed: Monday walk-through, Tuesday walk-through, Wednesday walk-through/travel to Nashville, Thursday-8:20 PM kickoff.

Monday Injury Report (estimation if the Colts would have practiced)

-DNP: TE-Mo Alie-Cox (knee), TE-Jack Doyle (concussion), LB-Matthew Adams (non injury related)

Bowen Analysis: Alie-Cox has been held out of several practices recently, yet still played.

-FULL: WR-T.Y. Hilton (groin)

Bowen Analysis: It’s a walk-through, but a positive sign Hilton has a chance to play this week.

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