INDIANAPOLIS — While the Indianapolis Colts this week have already seen the return of a couple key players, two key pieces will remain held out of practice on Wednesday, just four days before the team’s 2018 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said that left tackle Anthony Castonzo and running back Marlon Mack each will miss Wednesday afternoon’s practice, which is expected to be the team’s first in-depth preparation for the Bengals.
(UPDATE, 4:49 p.m.: Castonzo was participating in the early portion of Wednesday's practice, stretching with the team and doing positional drills. As listed below, he was officially labeled a limited participant in practice.)
Linebacker Darius Leonard, meanwhile, was limited in today's practice.
Castonzo has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury since before the start of training camp, but re-aggravated the injury early in camp after being brought off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Reich has remained hopeful that Castonzo will be ready for the season opener, but said on Wednesday the team has a plan in place if he’s ultimately unable to go.
But because of his confidence in the eighth-year veteran’s ability to play, even with less-than-ideal practice time under him, Reich isn’t ruling Castonzo out just yet.
“It’s definitely a barrier,” Reich said when asked about Castonzo not being able to practice on Wednesday relative to playing on Sunday, “but not a barrier that cannot be overcome, especially with a guy like Castonzo."
Le’Raven Clark, J’Marcus Webb and Joe Haeg could each get opportunities at left tackle this week in practice to prepare in case Castonzo can’t play.
Mack, meanwhile, has been out since suffering a hamstring injury in the Colts’ preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Aug. 9.
Reich has been less confident in Mack’s ability to play on Sunday versus a guy like Castonzo — “I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that he’s ready,” Reich said of Mack on Aug. 23 — but he’s yet to be ruled out of Sunday’s game, nonetheless.
Mack’s absence has led to more opportunities for the other backs, like rookies Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines, as well as veteran Christine Michael.
Leonard practiced today for the first time since Aug. 23, although he’s expected to be limited as he continues to work his way back from an ankle/chest injury.
The rookie second-round pick is projected to be the team’s starter at WILL linebacker, and Reich said the team will remain in a “day-to-day” approach with him as it pertains to the Bengals game.
If Leonard — who last played in the Colts’ third preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers — is unable to go on Sunday, either veteran Najee Goode or rookies Matthew Adams or Zaire Franklin are possible options to get the start in his place.
"It certainly is a bit younger of a locker room than I’ve ever been a part of. It’s probably the first year or so that I feel on the older side — certainly not as old as Vinny; I mean, who knows how he feels … he’s got a young heart, and that’s for sure — but there’s a good core group, I think, of veteran leaders — Big Al Woods, Jack Doyle, (Matt) Slauson on the offensive line, Jabaal Sheard — and there’s a bunch of young guys. And it’s fun. You get reinvigorated. I enjoy, honestly, meeting new teammates and getting to forge relationships with them. And they’re all hungry; it’s a great attitude that they bring in, and a lot of fun." — Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, on if he relishes being looked up to by a generally young locker room.
Here's Wednesday's injury report:
» DNP: T/G Denzelle Good (knee/wrist) and RB Marlon Mack (hamstring)
» Limited: T Anthony Castonzo (hamstring); CB Nate Hairston (hamstring); LB Darius Leonard (ankle/chest); LB Anthony Walker (groin)
— It's likely considered good news that Castonzo was able to practice, even in a limited capacity, after all on Wednesday. Keep an eye on his availability the rest of the week.
— Notables not listed? Quarterback Andrew Luck, who, obviously, missed the entire 2017 season as he recovered from shoulder surgery. Most recently Luck had missed a couple days of practice last week with a foot injury, but that obviously is no longer an issue. Also, it's probably good news that cornerback Quincy Wilson, who is sporting a club-like cast on his hand, is not listed on the injury report.