INDIANAPOLIS – We are back to regular season work at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Per usual, Wednesday was the first official day of practice for the Colts in their preparation for Sunday's season opener versus the Detroit Lions.
The Colts will practice again on Thursday and Friday, with Sunday's kickoff coming at 4:25 p.m. inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.
On Wednesday, we heard from head coach Chuck Pagano, defensive end Kendall Langford and outside linebacker Robert Mathis.
Kendall Langford on if he's ever been this close to missing an NFL game:
"I've never been a game-time decision."
Bowen's Analysis:* *Stop and think about that quote from Langford. He's played eight years in the NFL. 128 straight games in that span. He's been on the field for every single one of them. We are talking about a defensive lineman here, absorbing more than 600 pounds on some plays. That 128-game streak is the longest current one in the NFL for any defensive lineman.
Listening to Langford speak on Wednesday, there's definitely fear of him missing Sunday. He's never been in this situation before in his career (see the quote above). Detroit does pass the ball a lot and Langford thinks that's a good thing for him. On Wednesday, Langford admitted that he's not sure where exactly his conditioning is at due to a lower body injury (knee scope). Langford takes pride in his game-streak, although he doesn't like talking about it. His status will be monitored closely these next few days.
Chuck Pagano on what having Robert Mathis will do for the pass rush game:
"Come to the game Sunday."
Bowen's Analysis: Mathis was a full participant in Wednesday's practice and reassured the media before going out on the field that he is good to go for Week One. The Colts need the full throttle version of Mathis. Of course the good news is that Mathis enters Week One healthy, and on the field, something he hasn't been the past two seasons openers.
All four teams the Colts will see in the first quarter of the season finished last year ranked in the top 13 of passing offenses. That of course means the Colts' pass rush will have its chances, especially considering opposing offenses are going to want to test the banged up secondary in Indianapolis. On Sunday, Mathis will also see his former coach in Jim Caldwell. Mathis is one of five players still on the roster who played for Caldwell back in 2011 (Mathis, Adam Vinatieri, Pat McAfee, Joe Reitz and Anthony Castonzo).
Chuck Pagano on using last year as motivation in 2016:
"We are not the hunted. Somebody else won the division. We are chasing Houston."
Bowen's Analysis: Chuck Pagano isn't looking to build up any major chip on his team's shoulder this season. The division standings of 2015 should be motivation enough for 2016.
Jim Irsay spoke on Tuesday that it was a focus for Chuck Pagano to have a "tougher" team in 2016. The Colts were more in physical in camp and they obviously hope that translates to the regular season. On Sunday, the Colts will see a Lions team that won six of their final eight games last season.**
Here is Wednesday's injury report:
- DNP: CB-Darius Butler (ankle), CB-Vontae Davis (ankle), S-Clayton Geathers (foot) and Joe Haeg (ankle).
-The Colts are hoping to get Butler and Haeg back to practice this week.
- LIMITED: DT-Henry Anderson (knee), DE-Kendall Langford (knee), QB-Andrew Luck (right shoulder), G-Jack Mewhort (knee), ILB-Sio Moore (hamstring) and G-Joe Reitz (back).
-Anderson will not play Sunday. We've seen Luck take every first-team rep in camp and the normal preseason workload. Obviously, any "throwing shoulder" injury isn't ideal, but Luck will be on the field come Sunday. It's a great sign that Mewhort has returned to practice this soon. Jim Irsay did say on Tuesday that he didn't think Mewhort would be ready for Detroit. After missing the past month, Moore returned to the field on Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning, the Colts had some more shuffling at the cornerback position. The Colts signed free agent cornerback Rashaan Melvin, giving the team four healthy cornerbacks on the active roster. The Colts will need those bodies on Sunday with Detroit expected to air it out frequently.
Melvin, 6-2, 193 pounds, has played in 12 career NFL games (two starts) and totaled 21 tackles (15 solo). He's previously played with the Patriots, Ravens and was cut by the Dolphins over the weekend.
To make room for Melvin, the Colts waived quarterback Stephen Morris. It was always going to be difficult for the Colts to carry three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, given the injury situation on defense.