One of the Colts’ biggest challenges this season, facing off against the Los Angeles Rams, may have just become even more difficult as the team is in jeopardy of being without several key starters for Sunday’s matchup.
According to Zak Keefer, a writer for The Athletic, Darius Leonard, Braden Smith, Quenton Nelson, Kwity Paye and Xavier Rhodes didn’t practice on Thursday.
Not practicing today: Braden Smith, Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard, Kwity Paye, Xavier Rhodes.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) September 16, 2021
While Paye was limited in Wednesday’s practice, the rookie first-rounder did miss all of Thursday’s practice. As for Leonard, Smith, Nelson and Rhodes, they’ve all missed back-to-back practices, which isn’t a great sign regarding their availability for Sunday’s game.
Eric Fisher, though, was ‘limited’ for a second straight practice, according to Joel A. Erickson, a Colts Insider for the Indianapolis Star, leading many to believe he’s on track to make his Colts’ debut in Week 2. Los Angeles’ front four needs no introduction, so potentially getting the veteran left tackle back would be a huge boost to Indy’s offensive line which is currently down two starters.
Still, Los Angeles might be the toughest team the Colts will face all season long, and being down five starters is a potential recipe for disaster.
GM Chris Ballard went out and addressed the team’s lack of depth along the offensive line, signing players like Chris Reed, an experienced guard, and even trading for Matt Pryor, who could very well be starting at right tackle on Sunday. Reed could also get the nod if Nelson is unable to start, too.
Meanwhile, safety Khari Willis missed practice on Thursday as well, according to Erickson. If Willis and Xavier Rhodes aren’t able to play Sunday, the Colts would be thin in the secondary for a second straight week, which wouldn’t likely bode well considering the likes of Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson are coming to Lucas Oil.
If there’s any NFL defense you’d want to be 100% healthy for, whether it’s along the offensive line, at linebacker, or in the secondary, it’s the Rams.’
The Colts are looking for a bounce-back performance against one of the better teams in the league, and they’re also trying to avoid an 0-2 start on the season.
With the NFL changing the season from 16 games to 17, starting 0-2 wouldn’t necessarily be the end all be all, as Indy’s schedule gets slightly easier as the season progresses.
But let’s not just look past the fact that, even if Indianapolis does make the playoffs, they’re going to likely face teams that have explosive offenses and exceptional defenses, like L.A.’s.
While, yes, coming away with a victory against the Rams on Sunday is going to be tough, it would without question check a major box for a team with such high playoff aspirations this season.