INDIANAPOLIS – It was a pretty healthy bunch of Colts practicing indoors on Wednesday afternoon.
Arthur Jones headlined that list with the Colts ramping up preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Here are a few sound bites from Chuck Pagano and Arthur Jones talking to the media on Wednesday:
Chuck Pagano on the Colts leading the league in time of possession:
"Anytime you can play keep away, hold the ball, run the ball, score points, you are going to probably win a majority of football games."
Bowen's Analysis:* *The Colts lead the league in more than a handful of league categories but it's the time of possession statistic that can truly be credited to both sides of the football.
First, the Colts offense is sustaining drives at a high rate, but on the other side of the football you have the defense leading the league in third-down conversions allowed (29 percent). Those two things are a major reason why the Colts defense is able "to sit on the bench and chew ice" as Pagano said today. Yes, time of possession (36:28 leads the NFL) doesn't directly lead to points by any means but it's clear both Colts units have benefited from the other one in 2014.
Chuck Pagano on the Colts pass rush beginning to evolve:
"They probably got tired of everybody in this room saying we had nobody that could rush the passer once Robert (Mathis) got hurt.
"Guys are playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and I thank-you guys."
Bowen's Analysis: In sacking the quarterback on 8.8 percent of pass attempts, the Colts are fourth in the NFL in that category. Pagano has fielded endless questions about the pass rush possibilities this year and now the Colts have 16 sacks in the last four weeks to back that up.
You knew it would have to be a collective group effort to try and make up for the loss of Mathis and the Colts have gotten that with 10 different players recording sacks this season. The challenge will be stiff again on Sunday with Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton being sacked just twice in 151 pass attempts.
Arthur Jones on returning to practice on Wednesday:
"It was awesome to be out there with my guys.
"It's been awhile since I've been out there and I can't wait to get back out there tomorrow."
Bowen's Analysis: It has been a while since we've seen the jovial Jones bouncing around the locker room after practice. All offseason we heard about how big of an asset the versatile Jones would be to the Colts three-man front.
The arrow is pointing up to seeing him back on the field for the first time in a month. Jones was very candid in how frustrating it's been to have to watch the defense string together some impressive performances, wanting to be a part of all the fun. Jones did go out of his way to praise the play of fill-in starter Ricky Jean Francois, noting that some quality depth will be created once the 2014 free agent signee gets back on the field.
Xavier Nixon has returned to practice with the team. He will remain on Injured Reserve/Designated for Return during this time.
Bowen's Analysis: A crowded offensive line group added another body on Wednesday with offensive tackle Xavier Nixon back at practice. Nixon battled knee trouble during the preseason and now the Colts will have three weeks to evaluate him before deciding whether or not he will be elevated to the 53-man roster or will remain on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Right now, Joe Reitz and Jamon Meredith are the guys providing depth at tackle behind starters Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus.
Here is the injury report for Wednesday:
-DNP- Darius Butler (ankle) and Gosder Cherilus (knee)
-Butler did not play against Houston. Cherilus has rested later in the week in past games.
-LIMITED- Arthur Jones (ankle) and Hugh Thornton (ankle)
-For the first time in a month, Jones participated in practice. He will be the one to watch going forward this week.
-FULL- Jack Mewhort (ankle)
-Good sign for the rookie. He practiced Monday and Wednesday after missing the last two weeks.