INDIANAPOLIS – It was a busy Wednesday of Colts news with another coin-flip type game waiting on Sunday night.
The Colts (2-4) will take on the 49ers (2-3) in San Francisco on Sunday Night Football.
Here are some takeaways from the Colts returning to the practice field:
- Brett Hundley is again the backup quarterback, with Sam Ehlinger now the No. 3 QB (with Jacob Eason being claimed by the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday). What changed from Eason being the No. 2 QB to being cut, as the team decided to do on Tuesday? “It’s a fair question,” Frank Reich said on Wednesday. “With Brett, we just feel more comfortable with him being the backup. He hadn’t been here (during the offseason). We feel like he (now) knows the system. We’ve gotten to know him a little bit. We kind of knew him coming in but now are comfortable and we feel like that’s the right answer and an experienced guy as the backup. As far as Jacob and Sam, and Brett, the individual conversations we’ve had with all of them is, ‘This is not an easy decision. There is not a clear-cut guy here who is the winner or the loser here. There are three guys who we think all can play.’ Pushed further on Eason and why the 4th round pick from last year was demoted two rungs down the depth chart in less than a month, Reich shared this: “That’s a hard question to answer. I had a 45-minute conversation with Jacob (on Tuesday). ‘I really had nothing in the ‘Hey, you can get better here, better here.’ We all can get better though. That’s where I don’t want to overstate it and come off like this is a glaring weakness. I just think for Jacob it’s more time. It’s more time playing the games, playing football in those competitive situations. I think he’s going to have a very long, and good career I think he has the talent to do it. I’m encouraged for him, however it plays out.” Reich called the decision a ‘close, hard’ one. The staff wanted to get Eason back on the practice squad, but the Seahawks, with an injury to Russell Wilson, want to see what the Seattle product can offer.
- While Hundley is still the backup, this staff loves Ehlinger. And they now get to see the 6th round rookie on the 53-man roster, after he hurt his knee in the preseason finale. “Sam has played more football (than Eason),” Reich said on Wednesday. “(Ehlinger) had a long and established college career. He’s the guy who can move around a little bit more in the mold of Brett. He’s very poised. He’s played in a lot of big games and had a very productive college career, even more tape to look at and see.”
- So, T.Y. Hilton’s quad injury has his availability for this week in question. Hilton missed Wednesday’s first practice of the week and Frank Reich said he was unsure if No. 13 would practice, or play, this week. “The information has really been the same (from Hilton getting hurt in the 4th quarter of Sunday’s win), it’s just we need time and need a couple of days to see how it plays out and how T.Y. responds. I just don’t want to overcommit either way.”
- Hurricane Dayo made his NFL practice debut on Wednesday. Now, rookie DE-Dayo Odeyingbo can’t play until Week 9 (Thursday night vs. the Jets), so he will still miss Sunday against the 49ers and next Sunday vs. the Titans. Still, this move is an indicator of Odeyingbo being able to play this season, perhaps as early as two weeks from now. Odeyingbo is expected to play some defensive end on early downs, with the ability to slide inside on passing downs. Odeyingbo has been rehabbing a torn Achilles from January. DeForest Buckner says he’s been impressed with how Odeyingbo has handled himself in meetings. Again, Chris Ballard was obsessed with Odeyingbo in the draft process, with the Colts having high hopes for the 2nd round pick from Vanderbilt.
- When Quenton Nelson returns to left guard, which could happen as soon as Sunday, that doesn’t mean Chris Reed is going back to the bench. Reed has earned the right to maintain some playing time, so he will rotate in with Mark Glowinski. Again, this will happen if Nelson returns to the lineup this week after missing the past three games. Reed has 26 starts in his NFL career and is definitely deserving to still be on the field, as the O-line health improves. Frank Reich said the staff hasn’t discussed Reed supplanting Glowinski in the starting lineup at right guard. “I think Glow has earned that spot and he’s playing well, but we think Chris Reed is playing well, also,” Reich said. “So we will let those guys alternate at some level.” Nelson was ‘limited’ at Wednesday’s practice, as he has now been designated to return from injured reserve (a 21-day window has begun for Nelson). Frank Reich added it was no guarantee that Big Q would be back this week.
- Braden Smith hasn’t practiced for more than a month, yet still remains on the active roster with a sprained foot. Why? “It was just unfortunate how it played out,” Frank Reich explained on Wednesday. “This is not how we envisioned playing out but this is what happens sometimes. It seems like 9 out of 10 times our docs and trainers, when they give us estimates on time, they give us a more conservative estimate. For whatever reason, this is that 1-and-10 that took longer, rather than shorter. We just have to continue to be patient with it. Smith was doing some rather intense field work on Wednesday with a member of the athletic training staff. Still, he did not officially practice. Smith has played in just 1 game this season.
- Yes, Sunday means a tad more to DeForest Buckner. “It’s a little personal,” a smiling Buckner said on Wednesday about facing his former team this weekend. Financially was the main reason why the 49ers thought they needed to move on from Buckner, getting the 13th overall pick for him in 2020. Colts S-Khari Willis shared some insight into what Buckner has meant to the Colts: “It all starts up front. It’s no secret about that. This game is won at the line of scrimmage. From a pure football perspective, his talent, his credentials, his film, that speaks for itself. But as a leader and as a person, he’s a model of what we all want to be. He shows up early, he’s the first one here, you see his truck. He’s always taking care of his body right. He’s always helping younger guys, bringing them along, getting up talking. He will say in a respectful manner what needs to be said. That’s what he is for us. He’s the heart and soul of that defense, along with Darius (Leonard), Kenny (Moore) and a couple of other guys.”
- A busy Wednesday for the Colts included a couple of interesting practice squad moves. The Colts signed CB-Darqueze Dennard, who is a former first-round pick with 30 career starts. Dennard spent last season with the Falcons, after playing for the Bengals from 2014-19. Dennard signed with the Arizona Cardinals in June but went on injured reserve in August before being released from IR in early September. The other practice squad move also occurred in the secondary, with the Colts signing veteran S-Josh Jones. Playing in Green Bay, Dallas and Jacksonville, Jones has 25 career starts, including 13 last year for the Jaguars. Jones was a 2nd round pick by the Packers in 2017. Given how much the Colts have looked for secondary depth, these are a couple of names to keep an eye on. Remember, players from the practice squad can elevate to the active roster on game days, so these guys could play as early as Sunday.
- The following Colts didn’t appear to be practicing on Wednesday: CB-Rock Ya-Sin (ankle), DE-Kemoko Turay (groin), DE-Kwity Paye (hamstring), LB-Darius Leonard (ankle), OT-Braden Smith (foot), RB-Jordan Wilkins (illness), WR-T.Y. Hilton (quad).
- The Colts are back on their normal, Wednesday-Friday, practice schedule this week. They will have a morning walk-through on Saturday before boarding a plane for the Sunday night contest with the 49ers, which will kick at 8:20 PM.
Wednesday Injury Report
–Did Not Practice: OT-Braden Smith (foot), RB-Jordan Wilkins (illness), CB-Rock Ya-Sin (ankle), LB-Darius Leonard (ankle), DE-Kemoko Turay (groin), WR-T.Y. Hilton (quad), DE-Kwity Paye (hamstring), DL-Tyquan Lewis (elbow)
Bowen Analysis: The defensive end depth is being tested a bit early in the week.
-Limited: S-Julian Blackmon (Achilles), S-Andrew Sendejo (concussion)
Bowen Analysis: It’s never a good sign to see a player who wasn’t dealing with a previous injury, practice, and be limited due to an Achilles injury.