INDIANAPOLIS – Sending two key starters to injured reserve only added to a Monday Chuck Pagano called the "toughest" his team has had here in 2016.
With the playoff hopes for the Colts taking a major blow over the weekend, Pagano's team now hits the road for back-to-back games against teams still very much in the mix for January football.
Here is the Monday notebook with the Colts back on a normal schedule this week, before heading to Minnesota in Week 15:
**Monday saw some major injury news for the Colts with safety Clayton Geathers (neck), left guard Jack Mewhort (knee) and outside linebacker Curt Maggitt (knee) all going on injured reserve.
Here's a more detailed look on who the Colts could turn to at those spots.
Plus, some other injury updates from Monday:
- G-Denzelle Good (concussion): Still in the concussion protocol after missing last week.
- DT-Zach Kerr (concussion): Still in the concussion protocol after missing last week.
- OLB-Robert Mathis (elbow): The Colts are still treating Mathis' bicep injury. Pagano says Mathis is trending positively after missing the last two games.
- WR-Donte Moncrief (hamstring): Pagano listed Moncrief at "day-to-day" after the big receiver left during Sunday's second half. With Moncrief's injury, the Colts elevated wide receiver Devin Street from the practice squad.
- CB-Patrick Robinson (groin): The groin injury that kept Robinson off the field last week will be something to monitor when practice starts back up on Wednesday.
Chuck Pagano on if this was the most difficult Monday of the year:
"Probably the toughest yet."
Bowen's Analysis:* *Anytime you put Jack Mewhort and Clayton Geathers on injured reserve it's not a good Monday. That came less than 24 hours after the Colts saw their playoff control evaporate. A week ago the Colts were about to put together their most dominating performance of the season. Now, they are on the verge of being eliminated from the playoffs.
Pagano did defend two critical calls from Sunday's loss to the Texans. On the strip/sack of Andrew Luck, Pagano did not want to isolate blame on Dwayne Allen. It was Allen who was left one-on-one to block 2014 No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. But with the routes slow developing, Luck held onto the ball a bit longer than normal inside the 5-yard line, and Clowney eventually got home. Also on the 4th-and-1 attempt in the game's final 90 seconds, Pagano said the play had "more to it" than the screen attempt that came out of it.
Chuck Pagano on the squandered chance against Houston:
"We had an opportunity to control our own destiny and we don't have that luxury anymore."
Bowen's Analysis:* *For the second straight season, a December home loss to the Texans has the Colts needing a substantial amount of help to get into the postseason. If the Colts do miss out on the playoffs, they can point to four home losses this year and a season sweep by the Texans (by a combined 8 points).
The Colts now finish 2016 with trips to Minnesota (7-6) and Oakland (10-3), before a home finale versus Jacksonville (2-11). For the Colts to win the AFC South, they have to make up two games on the Texans and one game on the Titans. The Texans schedule down the stretch is very favorable, with consecutive home games against the Jaguars and Bengals the next two weeks.Darius Butler on the possibility of missing the playoffs for a second straight season:
"It is frustrating. I would be lying to you if I said it wasn't.
"Anytime you have the pieces that we have starting with a great coach that we rally around, we always do and always will, and a franchise quarterback, you will always have a shot."
Bowen's Analysis: Having your vacation start right after Week 17 was foreign territory for so many Colts last season. Are they about to experience that again this year? If so, the Colts will miss out on the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1997-98.
The hardest part about this year's season, compared to last, is that the Colts have had their franchise quarterback for every game but one. Houston hasn't had their best player (J.J. Watt) since Week Three of the season. That only makes this season's possible ending for the Colts even harder to look back on.*
On Monday, the Colts made the following roster moves:
Injured reserve for **safety Clayton Geathers (neck), outside linebacker Curt Maggitt (knee) and guard Jack Mewhort (knee).
The Colts also signed **free agent safety Duke Williams (57 career games, 10 starts) and elevated wide receiver Devin Street (1 catch this season) to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.
In bringing the roster back to the 53-number, the Colts signed former Texans cornerback Charles James (33 career NFL games, one start). A few years back, James was one of the stars of the HBO series "Hard Knocks."*