Colts safety Malik Hooker gets ready for a snap during a 2019 game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Colts Notebook: Malik Hooker Says He Will Play Sunday Versus Broncos

Joe Robbins | Getty Images


INDIANAPOLIS – Even before the Colts’ first practice of the week comes on Wednesday, Malik Hooker feels very good about himself returning to game action this Sunday.

On Tuesday, Hooker said that he expects to return to the field against Denver this week, ending his 3-game/4-week absence.

“I’m playing this week,” the third-year safety said on Tuesday.

“I would have played last week if they had allowed me to. But just being smart and cautious of not trying to re-injure myself or anything like that.”

Last week would have had Hooker returning from a torn meniscus at less than 4 weeks removed from surgery.

Hooker practiced limited last Thursday and then full on Friday, but the Colts listed him as ‘doubtful’ for their game against the Texans.

The safety said he was ‘very close’ to playing this past Sunday.

“I was over 90{6b2ff7b5569ff897856daea25146c3aa8bbdaa11543b2f3ed231dcc2b0b9fe17} able to play but there was no point early in the season risking that, still only 3 weeks out (from surgery) last week,” Hooker added.

Besides the Hooker news, here is what else we learned on Tuesday.

  • With the return of Hooker, the Colts look to be healthy at the safety position. That is, obviously, a good thing, although it does complicate the potential roles for guys like Clayton Geathers, Khari Willis and George Odum. But if this past Sunday is any indication, Willis is going to keep on playing, and play a lot. “Khari has done a good job with his playmaking ability and he knows where he fits into the defense,” DC-Matt Eberflus said on Tuesday. “He’s really intelligent and he’s functioning well. Guys that do that, Khari, or whoever that might be, will increase their playing time and continue to play.” Without Hooker against the Texans, Willis played every single defensive snap, whereas Geathers (37 snaps) and Odum (28 snaps) split the other safety reps.
  • So much buzz around Quenton Nelson lining up at fullback on Sunday. It was the first time that Nelson had been in the backfield since his Pop Warner days. “Moving him back there, we don’t have a fullback, so we are experimenting with some different things,” offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said of Nelson in the backfield. “His ability to pull, they kind of go hand-in-hand. It was good to get a play called and obviously scored a touchdown out of it.” Sirianni joked that Nelson and offensive line coach Chris Strausser (who was a college quarterback) will be working some route tree stuff this week. Following Sunday’s win, Frank Reich mentioned that there could be more in store for Nelson in the backfield.
  • The 2019 season has brought some really cool and unique shirts of Colts players. We saw that again on Tuesday, from Darius Leonard’s vicious stiff arm on Kenny Stills, or Eric Eborn’s splendid one-handed touchdown catch. The agents of these guys are acting quick in producing these shirts of their clients. Ebron tweeted out these pictures of the shirts.
  • In returning to game action last week, Darius Leonard was taking the field for the first time in more than a month. Leonard played all 65 defensive snaps, and felt that workload late in the game. “I got tired late, and that came from not being in there in the last 3-4 weeks so I’m going to have to practice even harder to get my wind and get back in shape,” Leonard said on Tuesday.
  • The Colts altered their defensive sub packages last Sunday against the Texans. They elected to go with seldom used Rolan Milligan (27 snaps) and Shakial Taylor (32 snaps) in a bigger role than the vastly more experienced Quincy Wilson (20 snaps). It was a bit surprising to see that, considering Wilson appeared to do a nice job the week prior against Kansas City TE-Travis Kelce. But, as Eberflus pointed out, the Colts are very week-to-week dependent in deciding how to handle those important sub package roles. “We discuss it as a staff and just think about matchups, who is going to cover who and what does that guy do well,” Eberflus said of deciding how to handle the nickel and dime roles: “How does he get open? How does he function? And just look at our players and the skillset of our guys. And that could change every week. It’s a difficult thing to figure out. You have to really study it and it takes a lot of time.” Before the Texans game, Taylor had played just 12 defensive snaps in his career, and Milligan had never seen any defensive action.
  • Get ready for the Colts in all blue this weekend. The team announced on Tuesday that they will be in their color rush/blue tops and pants on Sunday against the Broncos. It marks the second time in three years that they’ve worn that kit against the Broncos.
  • I was shocked to see the movement from WR-Reece Fountain in this workout video he tweeted on Tuesday. This is a guy who is barely more than two months removed from dislocating and fracturing his left ankle, which he did back on August 15th. Now, Fountain is on injured reserve and won’t play this season, but it’s still impressive to see such aggressive ‘jogging’ from a guy so early in his rehab.
  • More good news from the Colts facing the 2-5 Denver Broncos this Sunday? The Broncos traded away Pro Bowl wideout Emmanuel Sanders on Tuesday. Sanders was Denver’s 2nd leading receiver this season, catching 30 balls for 367 yards and 2 touchdowns. That’s one less playmaker for a Denver offense that just scored 6 points in the week prior versus the Chiefs. Speaking of trades, if you missed it, I’m a fan of the Colts exploring that market before next Tuesday’s deadline.

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