INDIANAPOLIS – Facing one of the best defenses the Colts will see all season long, questions are there about the availability for both starting offensive tackles.
Looking to rebound from a Week 1 loss for a fourth straight year, the Colts will welcome the Los Angeles Rams—who beat the Chicago Bears, 34-14, points last week, to Lucas Oil Stadium.
What did we learn about the Colts on Wednesday?
- If it was up to OT-Eric Fisher, it sounds like he would be playing on Sunday. Fisher said he “feels pretty darn good” as he enters his second week of practice in coming back from a torn Achilles. But Frank Reich sounds a little more cautious: “If he plays—if he plays—it’ll be a big step,” Reich said of Fisher suiting up this Sunday. “Going from where he was last week to playing this week would be a big step. We’ll have to evaluate that as he goes and see how he looks this week.” The next step for Fisher is progressing to a full participant in practice (he was still limited on Wednesday), ramping up his conditioning side, while showing the staff that his technique and quickness are still there throughout a practice. Fisher said he stopped thinking about his Achilles injury/rehab back in July.
- Frank Reich had no further update on OT-Braden Smith (foot) other than to say the Colts will spend this week evaluating his situation. Reich said that foot injuries are often ‘complicated’ so this is clearly not a straightforward diagnosis. “If there’s any chance (Smith) can play, he’ll play,” Reich said. That’s not a great sign for Smith. If he can’t go, and Eric Fisher still isn’t ready, it would likely be newcomer Matt Pryor at right tackle, opposite Julie’n Davenport. Pryor, who the Colts traded for at the end of the preseason, made 3 starts at right tackle last season. I don’t know what this could mean for Sunday, but I’ll note it: In 2020, Pryor played 47 snaps at left guard against Donald and the Rams in a Week 2 meeting. While the Rams won that meeting 37-19, Donald had his quietest game of the year (1 tackle, 1 QB hit in 60 snaps).
- Cornerback Xavier Rhodes (calf) did not appear to be practicing on Wednesday. Frank Reich said before Wednesday’s practice that he thought Rhodes would ‘get some work’ at some point in the week. Rhodes missed all of last week due to a calf injury that the Colts thought would keep the veteran corner out for just a couple of days. Given the potency of the Rams passing attack led by Matthew Stafford, Rhodes’ availability for Sunday is again of high importance.
- An area where the Colts definitely need to improve is in the explosive playmaking department. The Colts had just 1 play of more than 20 yards on Sunday (a 24-yard completion to Parris Campbell). They only had 1 run of more than 10 yards. Both of those figures are extremely low. Yes, the Seahawks played a role in this, but the Colts still know that they must hit on a few more chunks, in the pass and run game, to have enough offensive firepower.
- How rare is it to have two future first-ballot Hall of Famers facing off in the same game, and in a 1-on-1 actual matchup? That’s the case Rams DT-Aaron Donald and LG-Quenton Nelson. It’ll be the first-ever matchup between the best defensive tackle in football and the league’s best guard. At 6-1 and 280, Donald doesn’t bring some menacing frame to the matchup, but he’s arguably the best defensive player of this generation. How will the Colts game plan for Donald? Frank Reich said on Wednesday that Donald lined up opposite the left guard (i.e. Quenton Nelson) 50 percent of the time and opposite the right guard (i.e. Mark Glowinski) the other 50 precent. Obviously, when Donald is lined up across from Glowinski, one would think the Colts will be looking to help in that matchup. Donald lining up in both spots so often makes it difficult to commit to a game plan in stopping the future HOF. Donald is a 6-time All-Pro (has been in the league for 7 years) and has won 3 of the past 4 Defensive Player of the Year Awards.
- An interesting note in the Frank Reich era: While the Colts have lost all 3 season openers under Reich, they’ve rebounded to win in Week 2 all three years. What does that mean? Well, the Reich-led Colts have rebounded well and it’s not like the Week 2 opponent has been a push over either. Here are the Week 1/Week 2 games for the Colts in the Reich era: 2018: Bengals, at Washington, 2019: at Chargers, at Titans, 2020: at Jaguars, Vikings.
- It did not appear the following Colts were practicing on Wednesday: Braden Smith (foot), Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard, Xavier Rhodes (calf). Kemoko Turay (groin) was back to practice.
- The Colts will have two more practices this week (Thursday and Friday) before a Saturday walk-through ahead of hosting the Rams on Sunday in a 1:00 PM kickoff.
-Did Not Practice: OG-Quenton Nelson (back), CB-Xavier Rhodes (calf), OT-Braden Smith (foot), LB-Darius Leonard (ankle)
Bowen Analysis: Nelson and Leonard both played every snap on Sunday after dealing with respective season surgeries.
-Limited: OT-Eric Fisher (Achilles), DE-Kwity Paye (hamstring), DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad (ankle), DE-Kemoko Turay (groin)
Bowen Analysis: Still just a limited participation for Fisher. Turay returned to practice after missing Sunday’s opener.