The Indianapolis Colts returned to practice today with one key defensive contributor returning to practice as a full participant and one key offensive contributor landing on the injured reserve.
As was expected, Robert Turbin will be placed on injured reserve and likely will be lost for the season. While losing Turbin might be easily overlooked for some fans, this will be a blow that will impact the team on the field in a key situation at some point this season. He was an incredibly reliable short-yardage back who helped the Colts offensive line earn accolades in 2016 as the most efficient short-yardage unit in the NFL. While the coaching staff may have over-utilized him to the team’s detriment, there were times when he clearly was the best option on the team and one of the best options in the league.
It is expected that this loss will result in more carries for rookie home run hitter Marlon Mack. To this point the coaches have shown a great deal of concern about his pass protection abilities and so he will need to get up to speed in that capacity in a hurry. As much as you hate to ever see the fortune in the misfortune of another, particularly a hard working, gutsy player like Robert Turbin, his absence might just force the coaches to get Marlon Mack more involved to the benefit of the offensive balance in Indianapolis.
Veteran running back Frank Gore took his customary Thursday practice off to rest and keep him fresh for the rest of the season. He was joined by new injury report addition Darrell Daniels who did not participate with a knee injury. With the recent issues Jack Doyle has had holding onto the football, the Colts can ill-afford to take blows at a position that already is lacking Erik Swoope. We will keep an eye on his status tomorrow.
As mentioned previously, key defensive contributor John Simon returned to practice as a full participant today. This backs up the comments made yesterday indicating that, after such a strong performance on Monday night, he had earned some rest for a sore shoulder. If he can continue making the kind of impact that he made against the Titans as the season continues, he will be a force that opponents must game plan for and will help his teammates get additional opportunities.
Rookie inside linebacker Anthony Walker continues to rest with a hamstring injury that has been nagging him for weeks. It can be safely assumed that he will not be active for the Jaguars game this weekend. He was joined today by second-year safety/cornerback T.J. Green who was a limited practice participant with — guess? A hamstring injury. If he is forced to miss any time it potentially would have an impact on the special teams units and could bode well for Quincy Wilson’s return to the field this weekend.
Although it has been reported that Clayton Geathers will return to practice soon, it will likely not be this week.
Oh yeah, Andrew Luck didn’t practice either.
KEY COMMENTS FROM THE COORDINATORS
One of the most frustrating themes for the Colts offense early this season is that while rookie Marlon Mack has shown the propensity to make big plays he has not been a big part of the offensive game plan. Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski was asked about why Mack only received two carries in the Titans game. This is what he had to say:
Yeah, we had a number of things up for him. I think again, in that second half particularly, my focus was just getting Jacoby back in a rhythm. We had some run-pass options that ended up going the other way – going pass. We had some things in the passing game for him, as well. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but unfortunately Turbo (Robert Turbin) getting hurt, he’s been an extremely valuable contributor to us, in the locker room – on and off the field. He’s been great in the roles he’s had. Him being out and losing him will give Marlon more opportunities.
After seeing a lot of pre-snap motion in the second half in particular, Chud’s comments explain why Mack was so often motioned out to his spot as a receiver. For a young quarterback in a new offensive system, it’s interesting to me that Chud would place so much confidence in Brissett’s ability to make good choices in the pre-snap run pass options game.
Although it wasn’t asked, I would like to know why the Colts didn’t utilize more screen passes, flat routes, and wheel routes. It seems clear to me, run pass option or no, that there is no real effort being made to scheme Mack into the offensive game plan.
Chud also was asked about Jack Doyle’s struggles and whether there is something wrong with him. Here are his thoughts:
Jack is as consistent, as reliable as they come. Obviously, he didn’t play as well and he’s the first one to say that he didn’t play well this past week. I trust Jack. I never lose confidence in Jack and all the guys. When you put them on the field, you have to believe in them and absolutely 100 percent believe in Jack Doyle. Sometimes when you make some mistakes and everybody is going to make mistakes, you start pressing and that can make things worse.
All players go through slumps and struggles from time-to-time. One can only hope that Doyle’s recent mistakes are a blip that will fade into the distance for his career. If he continues to struggle, it will put significant pressure on Brissett to take more risks to his receivers.
Defensive coordinator Ted Monachino was asked about the long touchdown to Taywan Taylor and had a similar response to Chuck Pagano:
We had a communication breakdown. We had three guys that were in a check and one that wasn’t, so we’ve got to make sure that everybody gets the communication across the board. Everybody has got to have it. We’ve got to signal. We’ve got communicate with our mouths and with our hands, and we had a communication breakdown.
While it certainly understandable that having so many young players on the field in the secondary at one time will sometimes result in communication breakdowns and errors, these things will need to be fixed. It is hard to watch Tennessee’s defense in Matt Danely’s breakdown on third down struggles and not get the impression that it’s the kind of defensive scheme that the Colts ought to be running. Contact at the line of scrimmage with receivers, throwing them out of sync with a young quarterback, and a deep center fielder at safety who chooses where he will cover and reads the quarterback’s eyes.
Finally, Monachino was asked about John Simon’s impact with the team and his development and had some pretty positive things to share:
John Simon is exactly what we thought he would be. I think that John has made a quantum leap in some areas in terms of his ability to help us in coverage. He has improved a great deal in that area. I know that when we had him as a young player in Baltimore, the one thing we could always count on from John was he was going to be really physical on the edge of the defense, and his football character was off the charts and that hasn’t diminished one bit. He has made a huge improvement in coverage, and we’re not surprised at all because he’s getting enough reps to get the body of work that he needs to improve.
There is no doubt that Simon has been one of the most important additions to the Colts defense this season. If Indianapolis could add some talent at inside linebacker, this front seven could become dominant.