INDIANAPOLIS – Facing their most questions in the early juncture of the 2020 season, the Colts were back practicing on Wednesday afternoon.
A matchup with the Bengals (1-3-1) is waiting on Sunday, before the Colts (3-2) head for their bye week.
What else did we learn from the Colts on Wednesday?
- LT-Anthony Castonzo (ribs) was back at practice on Wednesday (cue the big exhale from Colts nation). It goes without saying what this means for the Colts as they hope to get their reliable left tackle back after missing just 1 game.
- LB-Darius Leonard (groin) was not practicing on Wednesday. That marks 4 straight missed practices for Leonard, who was doing some light jogging last week at practice. With the Colts bye week next week, you wonder how that will impact any decision for him trying to play this week.
- With the Colts red zone struggles this season (29th in the NFL at 42.1 percent), one would think Frank Reich is looking for a spark in that part of the field. Reich was asked on Wednesday if the red zone issues has had him re-thinking using Jacoby Brissett in a small package role. We saw Brissett in the game for one snap in Week 1, when he was sacked on a red zone read option play, but in no other meaningful role since that game. Reich said on Wednesday that the Colts evaluate everything in their playbook each week, but they also just need to execute what they’ve run better. “We believe in what we are doing. We just got to do it better,” the head coach said on Wednesday. While Brissett’s legs aren’t much of a weapon, the Colts offense was 6th in the NFL last year in red zone efficiency. Moving the football isn’t an issue for the Colts right now. It’s finishing off those drives that is the problem.
- Frank Reich says it feels like the Colts are seeing more 8-man boxes this season, and the numbers would back that up. According to Next Gen Stats, Jonathan Taylor has faced at least 8 defenders in the box 27 percent of the time this season. That’s one of the higher marks in the NFL. For comparison, Marlon Mack saw at least 8 in the box 12 percent of the time. The disparity in the numbers is surprising to me. It’s not like Jacoby Brissett was threating defenses vertically last year on a routine basis. Reich points to the run game success of last year and the reputation for the Colts offensive line as reasons why they are facing these loaded boxes.
- On Wednesday, Philip Rivers acknowledged the individual struggles he had in Sunday’s second half against the Browns. “I’ll be better this week,” Rivers said while going through his own film evaluation from Sunday. Rivers said he is expecting tight coverage from the Bengals this week, as Cincinnati prides themselves in contesting and challenging routes. If the Bengals can execute, how will that impact Rivers’ timing, if his receivers are struggling to beat press coverage and create separation?
- A look at where Philip Rivers ranks through five weeks in notable passing rankings: 70.8 completion percentage (6th), 8.0 yards per attempt (12th), 89.4 quarterback rating (22nd), 2.6 TD percentage (29th), 3.2 INT percentage (27th).
- Outside of special teams, the best attribute for the Colts through 5 weeks has been their run defense. The Colts rank 4th in yards per carry allowed (3.63) and 3rd in rushing yards allowed per game (86.4). This continues to be a strength throughout the three seasons Matt Eberflus has been coordinator.
- The Colts will practice again on Thursday and Friday, with a 1:00 PM game hosting Cincinnati (1-3-1) in front of 12,500 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.
Wednesday Injury Report
-DNP: TE-Mo Alie-Cox (knee), DL-Denico Autry (ankle, knee), S-Julian Blackmon (groin), TE-Trey Burton (rest), DE-Justin Houston (hip), LB-Darius Leonard (groin)
Bowen Analysis: A long list on Wednesday with 5 notable names out due to injury. Alie-Cox was an injury Frank Reich mentioned on Monday after the Browns game. Autry got hurt during the Browns game but returned and finished. Blackmon and Houston both said earlier this week they would be good to go for this Sunday against Cincinnati.
-Limited: LT-Anthony Castonzo (rib), RB-Jordan Wilkins (calf)
Bowen Analysis: Wilkins is a new name on the report this week. He had 1 carry last Sunday.