INDIANAPOLIS – As the Colts continue monitor the injury situation in their secondary, their All-Pro linebacker has found more motivation for this week.
A blustery Thursday in Indianapolis had the Colts indoors for practice. With rain in the forecast for this Sunday, it’s quite possible the roof could be closed for the first time this season at Lucas Oil Stadium.
What did we learn from the Colts at their second practice of the week?
- Little did Aaron Rodgers know that a post-game comment two Thursday’s ago to San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner would serve as motivation to a future opponent. Well, Darius Leonard is just wired differently. The Maniac heard the mic’d up clip of Warner hearing Rodgers say this after the Packers destroyed the 49ers on Thursday Night Football: “Ain’t nobody better,” Rodgers said to Warner. “There really isn’t. You’re the best and everybody knows it. The film don’t lie…” Ever the seeker for motivation, Leonard heard that comment and is quite eager for his first matchup against Rodgers. Before the question to Leonard could be finished on Thursday about that comment, No. 53 was already nodding his head several times, acknowledging that he had heard those words and the motivation was alive. “You hear things like that and it just gives you extra motivation to go out and play,” a smiling Leonard said. “I’ve been looking forward to this game ever since he said it. I want to leave a mark and hopefully change his mind.” It’ll be interesting to see/hear if Leonard and Rodgers share any words during Sunday’s contest.
- So, very good news on the injury front at Thursday’s practice, while we also need to watch the defensive line at Friday’s final session (see more below). All of these guys were practicing on Thursday: CB-Kenny Moore (limited, ribs), S-Khari Willis (full, ribs), TE-Jack Doyle (full, concussion), DE-Kemoko Turay (limited, ankle). Obviously, good to see Moore and Willis getting their first practice work of the week in after missing Wednesday. With Doyle practicing on Thursday, he still has enough time to clear concussion protocol by Sunday. This was Turay’s first Thursday practice of the year as he tries to make his 2020 season debut against the Packers.
- T.Y. Hilton had 4 catches (5 targets) for 40 yards in last Thursday’s win over the Titans. Honestly, it was one of the better games of Hilton’s underwhelming 2020 season. Hilton says opposing defenses continue to try and roll a safety over to try and take him away. Hilton says he’s sacrificing himself for the team in taking away double teams and opening up things for his other wideouts.
- It’s been an interesting subplot to see Xavier Rhodes join the Colts this season and face the NFC North, which is the division he called home for the first 7 years of his NFL career. Rhodes and the Colts have been pretty solid against those top-flight NFC North wideouts this season. Minnesota’s Adam Theilen had 3 catches for 31 yards (averaging 4.6 catches for 58.1 yards per game this season); Chicago’s Allen Robinson had 7 catches for 101 yards (averaging 6.3 catches for 75.5 yards per game this season) Detroit’s Kenny Golladay left at halftime with a hip injury but had 0 catches on 4 targets (averaging 4.0 catches for 67.6 yards per game this season). It should be noted that Theilen didn’t have a catch after the game’s opening drive, and Robinson had 65 of his yards on the final drive of the game (with the Colts leading 19-3).
- The toughest NFC North wideout challenge comes this weekend with Davante Adams. In 2020, Adams is averaging 8.7 receptions for 105.9 yards per game and has scored 9 touchdowns in 7 games played. For what it’s worth, here were Adams’ numbers in his four most recent games against Xavier Rhodes with the Vikings: 13 catches for 116 yards; 7 catches for 106 yards; 5 catches for 69 yards, 1 TD; 8 catches for 64 yards, 1 TD. In Adams last 4 games against the Vikings (when Rhodes was playing), his average numbers were 8 catches for 88 yards (2 total TDs).
- Earlier this week, we heard Frank Reich share his frustration in the lack of short-yardage success for the Colts this season. In facing a 3rd or 4th down this season and 3 yards or less to convert, the Colts rank 31st in the NFL. They have converted just 36.7 percent of those attempts. The 0-9 New York Jets are the only team worse than that. Only 9 teams in the NFL are converting less than 50 percent of those opportunities. Former Colts great Jeff Saturday (who is now an analyst on ESPN) appeared on 1075 The Fan earlier this week and shared his thoughts on what he’s seeing from the Colts in those situations: “From the critical angle, as physical as we want to be and we kind of want to play, we are just not sharp in it,” Saturday, who played with the Colts from 1999-2011, says. “It’s like everybody takes a turn, whether it’s the backs not hitting the hole, or we are not getting the same push that we want to get, or one guy on the O-line is missing (a block), it’s kind of an always something type of conversation. It’s just not clean. I was even thinking about it last Thursday, and it’s a great question, if you are the coaching staff do you just go back to basics and maybe take plays out? Are there too many options and too many opportunities? You hate to ever think that way. Is it ever just a point we need to get these 2 or 3 plays and just continue to drive them home? Listen, that’s going to cost you. When you get into playoff time and you get into close games where you need to extend drives, I’m not even talking about scoring, I’m talking about extending drives to keep the Patrick Mahomes’ of the world on the bench, those are must haves. There’s a reason that you call football staying in phase on first and second down, so you do get the short yardage type plays. That part to me has been just a miss pretty much all season. And, again, I don’t know I can just say it’s this one part of our game. I think it’s everybody that has added to it. We just have to get clean at it. Again, when you hang your hat on the O-line, I know people want to place it on the O-line, but it’s not always that. It could be a screaming blitzer off the side. There’s just a number of different reasons for it happening, but he’s right, you definitely need to clean that up.”
- Nyheim Hines has touched the ball at least 6 times in 5 of 9 games this season. In fact, it’s big disparity in Hines’ touches in games: 15, 1, 11, 12, 5, 5, 8, 4, 17. The Colts are averaging a full touchdown more in games that Hines has touched it at least 6 times (30 points per game compared to 23 points per game).
- For a second straight season, Philip Rivers is playing against the NFC North. Something is going right with the Colts 3-0 against the division this season. How did Rivers do against the Packers last season? He was 21-of-28 for 294 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, with a quarterback rating of 108.3. It was easily one of the better games Rivers had last season and probably the best win for the 5-11 Chargers.
- The Colts will practice one final time on Friday afternoon before taking on the Packers at 4:25 PM this Sunday, with 12,500 capacity allowed inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Thursday Injury Report
-DNP: TE-Noah Togiai (knee), DL-Denico Autry (illness), DL-Tyquan Lewis (not injury related), DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad (not injury related), DT-Grover Stewart (not injury related)
Bowen Analysis: With Autry missing practice due to an illness, it looks like other three names were held out for precaution or close contacts. The Colts were not under intensive protocol at Thursday’s practice, so that’s a sign they didn’t think the Autry absence was really serious. Still, this bears monitoring on Friday. Togiai is a new name on the injury report.
Limited: OT-Braden Smith (thumb), CB-Kenny Moore (ribs), TE-Mo Alie-Cox (knee), DE-Kemoko Turay (ankle)
Bowen Analysis: Smith is a new name on the injury report.
Full: TE-Jack Doyle (concussion), TE-Trey Burton (rest), DE-Justin Houston (rest), S-Khari Willis (ribs), S-Julian Blackmon (pelvis, knee)
Bowen Analysis: Again, Doyle still has time to clear concussion protocol before Sunday.