One week after limiting the impact of rookies in just about every phase, the Colts were forced to make some changes. Injuries force young players into regular season competition sooner than they might otherwise anticipate. 2020 has been particularly brutal for the NFL regarding injuries and the Colts have been unable to avoid an early bug that is claiming entire seasons for numerous veterans.
At some point this season the following players have suffered injuries that resulted in partial or full games lost, or to being placed on the injured reserve: RB Marlon Mack, WR Parris Campbell, TE Jack Doyle, TE Trey Burton, DT Sheldon Day, DE Kemoko Turay, LB Matthew Adams, CB Rock Ya-Sin, CB Xavier Rhodes, S Malik Hooker. Keep an eye on rookie snap counts as these injuries develop. This trend has to reverse at some point, right?
Injuries at running back and wide receiver will thrust Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. into more prominent roles in the offense.
Taylor dominated time in the backfield with 49 offensive snaps to only 17 for Jordan Wilkins and 9 for Nyheim Hines. He carried the ball 26 times for 101 yards and a touchdown — there were only 14 other runs in the final statistics and three of them were kneel downs for Rivers to ice the game. Taylor also led the backfield through the air with 2 catches on 2 targets for 9 yards.
After Parris Campbell went down to injury early in the game, Pittman almost never left the field. Hs jointed teammate Zach Pascal as skilled downfield blockers to support the running game. His 67 snaps out of 73 opportunities led the receivers with 92% usage. He was tied with a team high 6 targets and caught 4 passes for 37 yards, including one that saved a possible turnover on a tipped pass and a couple to keep the chains moving.
Rookie guard Danny Pinter saw the field for 8 offensive snaps, again serving as the team’s extra offensive lineman in short-yardage situations.
New contributions were made by former undrafted tight ends Noah Togiai and Farrod Green. Togiai saw the field for 37 offensive snaps, which is good for just over half of the opportunities. Green saw the field for 5 offensive snaps. Neither were targeted in the passing game and were primarily used to serve as additional blockers for the ground game but it’s worth monitoring the development of either player - given that the Colts have to wait at least another week to get Burton back on the field.
Last week the veteran heavy defense didn’t have a rookie contribution. This week, an illness held Rock Ya-Sin out of the game and Xavier Rhodes left the contest early with a minor injury. Safety Malik Hooker left the game early and will be lost for the season with a torn Achilles.
This paved the way for rookie safety Julian Blackmon to see 34 defensive snaps — a 63% usage. He used those opportunities to make big tackles, defend two passes, and tip a ball that was intercepted by fellow safety Khari Willis. In terms of debuts, Blackmon gave the Colts coaching staff and fan base a lot of reason to feel confident in asking him to play a bigger role early in his career.
Rookie cornerback Isaiah Rodgers also saw the field for 18 defensive snaps and tallied his first tackle. His usage on special teams should continue to be monitored as well but if Ya-Sin or Rhodes has to miss any additional time, Rodgers may get even more opportunities on defense.
Rookie linebacker Jordan Glasgow continues to be a special team stalwart, taking 18 special teams snaps.
After an inconsistent training camp and bad Week 1 miss, rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship bounced back. He was perfect on the day, including four field goals and two extra point attempts. He hit a long field goal of 44 yards. The Colts trotted him onto the field confidently and he was solid. Let’s see if he can build off of the game and keep his streak going.