Last week the Colts won an improbable game against a contending Baltimore Ravens team in overtime. It was a hard fought, ugly win, but a win all the same. This week the Colts will take on the healthiest team they’ve played since taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars in week one:
Starting tackle Alaric Jackson was a game time decision with a hamstring injury but will not play and Joe Noteboom will play after leaving their week three game with a knee injury. Tyler Higbee is expected to play according to Schefter. As of the time of this writing, we don’t know about Skowronek but the teams will be releasing their inactives and I will include a link to those as well.
Meanwhile, this will be the most beat up the Colts have been, going into a game without starting left tackle Bernhard Raimann and center Ryan Kelly. In their place, former BYU rookie fourth round pick Blake Freeland will start at left tackle and Wesley French will make his second start in a row at center. One concern is obvious, on the other side of the line is future Hall of Famer, Aaron Donald going against a rookie in his first career start in Freeland and a guy that the Colts intended to be a third string center in French.
But the even bigger concern is who will be responsible for calling protections for the Indianapolis Colts. Normally the responsibility falls to veteran center Ryan Kelly who’s experience and knowledge alone makes him worth his contract anytime a team is starting a rookie quarterback. Last week, the Colts started veteran quarterback Gardner Minshew and Shane Steichen elected to have Minshew call out the offensive line protections instead of French, as French was making his first start. It was a move that made a lot of sense given Minshew’s experience and French, well, lack of it. But this week the Colts are starting two players with roughly the same amount of NFL game experience in Anthony Richardson at quarterback and Wesley French at center. Steichen’s decision of who to entrust with calling out protections is one that could very seriously determine the outcome of the game.
If we see obviously blown blocking assignments today it could very well be due to the inexperienced nature of the quarterback and center combination for the Colts today. Whoever is calling out the protection has a big job, against a defense with a guy like Aaron Donald, it’s a job the Colts can’t afford to get wrong.
The line on this game has flipped back and forth a few times this week, it seems that Vegas feels that this one is going to be close. If the Colts can win the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball and force more turnovers than they lose themselves, Indy will have a good chance to walk out with their third win in as many games. Short of that and Sean McVay and veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford will do their best to steal one on the road in Indy.