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INDIANAPOLIS – Some jolts are coming the Colts’ way offensively this weekend, while they will have a new kicker for the first time in a decade.
It was a pretty newsy Friday at the Colts complex, with Frank Reich ruling OUT: WR-T.Y. Hilton (calf), CB-Kenny Moore (ankle) and K-Adam Vinatieri (knee) for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers.
What else did we learn from the Colts’ final practice of the week?
- Probably the best/most surprising news of the week for the Colts’ injury wise came with RB-Marlon Mack (hand) expected to play against the Bucs. Despite breaking his hand two weeks after Parris Campbell did the same thing, Mack will return two weeks ahead of Campbell’s month-long absence. Mack has been out since injuring his hand on November 17th, and the quickness to his return has even surprised Frank Reich. “From what I was initially thinking, he’s probably a week ahead of where we thought he would be,” Reich said after Friday’s final practice of the week. As far as playing/time workload for Mack, don’t expect a crazy amount of touches for him, although he will still be the feature back. “Not thinking a big pitch count,” Reich said of Mack’s role on Sunday. “Even when he’s humming, we don’t hesitate to rotate those guys. We know Marlon’s going to get the bulk of those carries. I’m anticipating that all 4 backs will (dress). So it might be a little bit more of a rotation involved.”
- Now, Mack will be watched closely on Sunday from a ball security standpoint and how effective his patented stiff arm can be. Mack’s right hand is the injured one, and that is his dominant hand. Reich said he senses confidence from Mack and that was part of the reason why the Colts are comfortable with the third-year back playing this weekend. Mack said he did some hitting against a few sleds in practice and even exchanged a blow or two with Justin Houston. Will Mack be hesitant at all using his stiff arm? “It is a big part (of my game), but I’m just going to try and adjust and go with the flow,” Mack said on Friday. “I’m still going to try and use it and just go out there and play.” Mack hasn’t lost a fumble this year in 204 touches. None of the Colts running backs have fumbled this season.
- For the first time in a decade, the Colts will have a different kicker lining up for them on Sunday afternoon. Adam Vinatieri (left knee) was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. Sunday will be the first game Vinatieri has missed since 2009 (when Matt Stover kicked for the injured Vinatieri). That means newly claimed Chase McLaughlin will handle the placekicking. McLaughlin, a 2019 undrafted rookie, has kicked in 7 games this season, going 13-of-17 on field goals and 15-of-15 on extra points. Frank Reich said on Friday that the Colts will use those McLaughlin percentages when factoring in how aggressive to make their analytics charts for Sunday.
- Given Vinatieri felt his knee flare up last week, including in warmpus this past Sunday, was Frank Reich hesitant at all to use his kicker for two 50-plus yards attempts against the Titans? “There wasn’t (any hesitancy),” the head coach said. “When it flared up early, it was like, ‘Hey, is this a concern?’ ‘No, not a concern at the moment.’ You’re in game day so the adrenaline is flowing. Then always when you get into that moment, I’m always communicating with (special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone), how do we feel when I know it’s going to be in that 50 range? We are always talking that through. I was confident in those kicks.” Vinatieri missed both of those kicks, with the first one having enough distance, but falling to the right. The second one was blocked, after coming off Vinatieri’s foot extremely low. Reich said the Colts have not discussed injured reserve yet for Vinatieri, but they are listing him at ‘week-to-week.’
- Parris Campbell (hand) will get back in the lineup on Sunday, which is vital to the Colts offense receiving some playmaking. Campbell hasn’t played since fracturing his hand against the Steelers back on November 3rd. With the Buccaneers known to play a heavy amount of man coverage, a player with the speed of Campbell should be helpful to the Colts’ cause. “This is a big opportunity for Parris,” Reich said on Friday. “I feel like he’s ready to go. He’s had a really good week of practice. You know how we do it. We are going to spread it around. He hasn’t been in there much, so you have to have a little discretion on how much you do with him, but he’s ready to go and I’m excited for him.” Campbell said the battling of three different injuries this year has been a ‘mental roller coaster’ for him. He wasn’t quite confident in himself to return to the lineup last week, but catching balls in a cold Friday practice has him ready to go this Sunday. ”(Campbell) looked good last week physically, running and everything,” Reich said on Friday. “You could tell last week he was just a little tentative catching it at times earlier in the week and just never really got to the point where that felt the way it should feel. This week, you couldn’t tell anything was wrong.”
- T.Y. Hilton (calf) has officially been ruled out for Sunday’s game with the Buccaneers. This will be Hilton’s sixth missed game of the season for the Colts. Without Hilton, the Colts are 1-4 this year (1-8 overall in career games Hilton has missed).
- An ankle injury that Kenny Moore suffered in the 2nd half of last Sunday’s loss to the Titans kept him off the practice field all week and he will miss the game against the Buccaneers. Moore, who is easily one of the team’s best and most valuable players, has missed one game this season (a win over Houston back in Week 7). With Moore out, does that mean Quincy Wilson will dress? And who is your nickel cornerback in the slot?
- Some good news in the secondary came on Friday with Malik Hooker (foot) returning to practice. The Colts need Hooker’s presence badly on Sunday, with a turnover-prone quarterback not afraid to pump the ball down the field.
- When evaluating quarterbacks at an elite level, their performance in the 4th quarter is definitely a key area. Well, Jacoby Brissett has struggled there. Take a look at how Brissett’s quarterback rating has changed throughout games this season: 1st quarter-122.6 rating, 2nd quarter-84.5 rating, 3rd quarter-100.8 rating, 4th quarter-76.9 rating (62.5 rating in the 4th quarter when the score is within 7 points). This is a trend we actually saw from Brissett in 2017, as well. While Brissett has been really good in the opening quarter (when things are scripted), his 4th quarter numbers have not been up to par.
- It will be strength vs. strength on Sunday when it comes to the Colts run game. We know the emphasis and production the Colts have achieved this year in the run game department. Well, the Buccaneers have a stout front 7, and they rank 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (76.3) and yards per carry (3.44). Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is known for stopping the run at all prior stops.
- Bowles’ defense brings an aggressive blitzing style, an area that the Colts must get better at. “Todd will bring blitz zero more than most teams and just pressure in general,” Reich said earlier this week.
- Fantasy owners who drafted Chris Godwin this year have to be the talk of their respective leagues. With Godwin having 1,121 receiving yards and hauling in 9 touchdowns this season, plus Mike Evans having 1,096 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns, the Bucs have easily two of the most productive receivers in the league this season. Both rank top-5 in the league in those respective categories.
- Talk about a tale of two halves for the Bucs this season: They are minus 45 in the 1st half and plus 51 in the 2nd half.
FINAL INJURY REPORT
OUT: CB-Kenny Moore (ankle), WR-T.Y. Hilton (ankle), K-Adam Vinatieri (knee)
-Bowen Analysis: In Moore and Hilton missing, the Colts are down two of their top 5-ish players.
QUESTIONABLE: CB-Rock Ya-Sin (ankle), S-Malik Hooker (foot)
-Bowen Analysis: Ya-Sin didn’t practice on Friday after being limited on Thursday. Hooker did practice on Friday, after missing Thursday.
The following guys were on the injury report this week and have since been removed: TE-Mo Alie-Cox (thumb), WR-Parris Campbell (hand), RB-Marlon Mack (hand).
Colts final practice of the week has begun.
It’s Chase McLaughlin kicking, don’t see Adam Vinatieri. pic.twitter.com/FwH81nMAFD
— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) December 6, 2019