INDIANAPOLIS – Normal Wednesday’s for the Colts have them on the practice field.
But this Wednesday’s on-field work was again at a walk-through pace, for a second straight day.
What did we learn from the Colts on Wednesday?
- Following his franchise-record 253 rushing yards on Sunday, Jonathan Taylor heard from the man who’s record he broke. Edgerrin James (who ran for 219 yards in a 2000 game) reached out to Taylor: “I got a chance to talk to him and he congratulated me,” Taylor said of Edge on Wednesday. “One of the biggest things that he mentioned was just to keep pushing forward. ‘You know what you did to get to this point, to have the game that you had, and the season that you had. The only thing you can do is keep working to get better because it’s only going to get harder from here.’” For those curious how Taylor feels physically, he said no worries on the shoulder injury that has him on the injury report. Taylor is actually surprised how good he feels at the close of the season. Taylor has carried it 232 times this year, which is much lower than what he did in his three seasons at Wisconsin: 299 carries, 307 carries, 320 carries.
- T.Y. Hilton said on Wednesday that he thinks Bills All-Pro corner Tre’Davious White will shadow him on Saturday. This isn’t something White has done too often though. If it’s something Buffalo decides to go with, and White is able to limit Hilton, more will be needed out of Michael Pittman. While Pittman did make a couple of important grabs as an outside wideout last week, he’s been pretty quiet since his strong November. Pittman has had no more than 3 catches and 42 yards in a game over the final quarter of the season.
- One player who could make a strong impact on Saturday: Nyheim Hines. The Bills have struggled with some quicker backs making plays in the receiving game this season. And Hines was really consistent in catching 63 of his 76 targets for 482 yards and 4 touchdowns this season.
- It’ll be a battle of rookie kickers this Saturday. We know about Rodrigo Blankenship’s solid season (32-of-37 on field goals and 43-of-45 on extra points), well Bills’ rookie kicker Tyler Bass hasn’t missed a field goal since Week 9. Bass is 28-of-34 on field goals this season and 57-of-59 on extra points.
- Speaking of Hot Rod, we talked on Monday about his struggles with longer distanced kicks this season. Special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone said a couple of those misses have come from Blankenship hitting the ground, in an effort to try and get the ball higher. Ventroe said Hot Rod has made kicks up to 60 yards in practice, but that range is likely to shrink in colder weather. Couple other special teams notes for this weekend: Ventrone is expecting more returned kicks with the colder temps and he calls Bills returner Andre Roberts the ‘best combo returner in the league.’
- With so many other playoff centric headlines this week, we can’t forget that the Colts are still playing without their most important player. That’s Anthony Castonzo. Looking at how the Colts have performed with and without Castonzo this season, it’s about a 4-point difference (25.2 points per game without him, 29.1 points per game with him). The passer rating of Philip Rivers is 102.6 with Castonzo, and 85.2 without him. Does Jared Veldheer’s presence help close the gap on that disparity?
- Great note from the Colts: This marked the 3rd straight year the Colts have finished the season top-10 in rushing defense. That’s the first time for the franchise since 1975-77. Under Matt Eberflus, this has been by far the most consistent aspect to the defense. In Eberflus’ 3 years, the Colts have ranked the following in run defense: 8th, 7th, 2nd.
- It wasn’t surprising to see a Colts player take home Player of the Week honors in Week 17. But it was to see it being Darius Leonard, and not Jonathan Taylor. Leonard was the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week for Week 17, producing 10 tackles, 1 sack, 2 passes defensed and 1 forced fumble. Leonard is the 6th Colts player to take home an AFC Player of the Week award this season. It was Derrick Henry (34 carries, 250 yards and 2 touchdowns) winning the offensive award over Taylor (30 carries for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns).
- When you play outdoors in January, especially in the state of New York, you look at the weather. Unlike the last time the Colts played in Buffalo (a December 2017 blizzard), Saturday’s forecast looks very tame for January. Temperatures around 32 degrees, some sun, winds around 7 MPH and less than a 5% chance of precipitation is the early forecast. On Tuesday, we took a look at how Philip Rivers has performed in these cold weather type games.
- The Colts had a second straight walk-through Colts on Wednesday. So, the lone practice of the week for the Colts will come on Thursday, with another walk-through on Friday, before traveling to Buffalo for Saturday’s kickoff at 1:05 PM.
Wednesday Injury Report (estimated practice report with the Colts holding a walk-through)
-DNP: DT-DeForest Buckner (ankle), OT-Will Holden (ankle), CB-Rock Ya-Sin (concussion)
Bowen Analysis: Another missed day for Ya-Sin isn’t great for his availability for Saturday. Looks like Buckner is following the same participation pattern of last week.
-Limited: RB-Jonathan Taylor (shoulder)
Bowen Analysis: Tayor said on Wednesday that he feels fine after a career-high 30 carries this past Sunday. He said he’ll be ‘ready to roll’ for the Buffalo game.
-Full: S-Khari Willis (concussion), QB-Philip Rivers (toe), CB-T.J. Carrie (ankle/shoulder)
Bowen Analysis: This is another good step in the right direction of Willis returning this weekend. Carrie progressed from limited to full on Wednesday.