INDIANAPOLIS – Tuesday was a second straight day for the Colts working remotely.
The entire NFL is working from home the first two days of this week, as COVID-19 precautions following Thanksgiving.
Starting Wednesday, players and staff members will gather back at team facilities, with practices starting as usual. The Colts (7-4) will take on the Texans (4-7) this Sunday at 1:00 PM.
What did we learn from the Colts on Tuesday?
- Along with punting duties in replacing Rigoberto Sanchez, special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone also sees that guy taking over the holding duties, too. “It’s obviously a very important position,” Ventonre said what Sanchez brings. “It controls field position. You are not going to replace a guy that is that talented. We have to find a guy who is hopefully experienced and has the ability to come into our system quickly and be able to do a good job with (Rodrigo Blankenship) in communication and obviously that operation is very important.” The timetable for Sanchez returning, possibly this season, won’t truly be known until after Tuesday’s surgery. But multiple members of the Colts staff have said a return in 2020 is not out of the question.
- We’ll have more on Rock Ya-Sin in a separate story on Wednesday. Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said on Tuesday that Rock Ya-Sin’s ‘benching’ on Sunday came more so from the team wanting to rotate veteran T.J. Carrie more in the game. While that might be some of the case, it looked much more like a benching with Ya-Sin’s playing time going from 93 percent of the defensive snaps against the Packers to 38% against the Titans. And him getting immediately subbed out following his 2 penalties on one drive in the second quarter.
- Through 2 games, Kemoko Turay has played 14 snaps (just 4 against the Titans) and yet to record a defensive statistic. With more pass-happy teams coming though, one would expect the usage of Turay will grow. “I think he’s coming around,” Eberflus said of Turay. “We expect to see some big things from him in the next few weeks. I think he’s starting to learn where he is and what works for him and where he’s coming off of his injury. I see progress in the 1-on-1 pass rush and in the practice reps.”
- Speaking of another former 2nd round pick, defensive end Ben Banogu has been a healthy scratch in four straight games. While Eberflus does point to a lack of production from Banogu in practice committing to his inactive game days, he also points to some other guys (mainly DE-Cassius Marsh) showing up more. “It’s also the whole football team,” Eberflus says of the roster game day decisions. “How does a player who is a backup linebacker, corner or a rotational defensive lineman get on the field? Well, it’s important that they do good things in practice, all the way through how they help your football team. That would include the rotation of your defensive line and special teams. You look at it as a group and look at the roster that way and say, ‘Hey, where can this guy help us as a football team? And where is this guy most beneficial to helping us as a football team?’ That’s every player.”
- For those curious about the defensive effort on Sunday, Matt Eberflus was pleased with the hustle/lack of loafs. “The numbers were actually good,” Eberflus said of Sunday’s defensive effort. “We were hustling and hitting the way we want to. In that game, it was really about fundamentals and technique and playing the correct way within the defense.” The 35 points allowed in Sunday’s first half were the most at home in franchise history.
- In trying to get off to better starts defensively, the Colts will adjust some things at practice this week. “Modeling the reps a little bit differently just to emphasize” things is the phrase Eberflus used to describe the changes. Eberflus said it’s not just one specific thing that is contributing to the Colts first-half struggles of late.
- The Colts staff felt like rookie C-Danny Pinter held his own and played winning football in his first career start at center. Remember, Pinter was a defensive end and tight end in high school, a tight end and offensive tackle in college and is now playing the interior of the offensive line for the first time in his football career. If we are nitpicking a little, both Pinter and Nick Sirianni mentioned a few snapping issues from Sunday. Pinter had a couple of lower snaps that Philip Rivers had to reach for down by his knees. For an offense that is so keen on precise timing, those hiccups can really impact plays.
- Special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone missed the Green Bay game due to a positive (asymptomatic) COVID-19 test. Ventrone said he had a slight cold on the first day but immediately started feeling better and worked out every day from home. He returned to in-person work last week.
- Grover Stewart signed a very deserved 3-year extension on Saturday. The Colts approached a surprised Stewart for the extension before he was to hit the open market next spring. Stewart, 27, was very emotional upon hearing the news of his NFL future being secured through 2023. “When I got the call, I didn’t know what to say,” Stewart said on Tuesday. “I had all kinds of feelings and my legs were shaking. I thought I was going to give out.”
- The Colts will get back to their on-field practice schedule this week, going Wednesday, Thursday and again on Friday afternoon before taking on the Texans at 1:00 PM this Sunday, in Houston.