Carson Wentz had another "positive" day of practice on Monday and handled the reps he took well, head coach Frank Reich said. Wentz, too, responded well to Thursday's practice at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center over Labor Day weekend, Reich said.
"We'll just keep taking it a day at a time," Reich added.
Last week, Reich said Wentz needed to check the box on Monday's practice, but that Wednesday's practice will be key in determining if the quarterback will start for the Colts on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
Wentz said last week he was feeling optimistic but acknowledged the final say on his availability for Week 1 would be up to the team's doctors.
"It's going to come down to how the doctors feel, where I'm at and everything," Wentz said Thursday.
View From The Backfield
As for Wentz's play at practice, running back Nyheim Hines said Monday it hasn't felt like the Colts' quarterback is behind schedule ahead of the regular season kicking off this weekend.
"He's looked good," Hines said. "Throwing the ball well, doesn't look like he's missed anything. He's in control of all the checks and looks like he knows what he's doing out there. I'm super excited to watch him."
Hines was also asked about what his expectations are for Wentz — who'll be the fourth different starting quarterback Hines (and plenty of other Colts) will play with since 2018 — entering the season.
"Just to lead us," Hines said. "He doesn't have to — if he has to be Superman, he can do that, if he just has to turn around and hand the ball off, he can do that too. I think with Carson, I think he's going to do whatever is required to win the game. That's what we all feel about him and he's going to do whatever it takes."
Immediate Challenges Ahead For Defense
The Colts' defense set a goal of 40 takeaways in 2021, and collectively believes it can be one of the best groups in the NFL. And Matt Eberflus' group will be tested right from the start with home games against the Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams, then a road trip to face the Tennessee Titans to end September.
That means facing two highly-productive quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford, then taking on a powerful Titans team with which the Colts are well-acquainted.
But the Colts' defense looked strong and deep during training camp and will present a challenge of its own to those three teams.
"Up front we're going to be really good, I think we got really good depth," Reich said. "Obviously Kwity (Paye) looked strong, all the guys returning are really good players. I just think everybody's healthier, (DeForest Buckner) last year had an unbelievable year, Pro Bowl year, and was playing without one hand, basically. I think he's even going to be more of a force than he was last year, if that's possible.
"I think we're better in the secondary, I think our schemes are one year better, the defense did some really good work in the offseason. You'll see and notice a few changes that we made schematically, just little things that we've done that we think are going to help our defense take that next step. And we already feel that defense is pretty good to start."
For linebacker Bobby Okereke, part of the Colts' defensive confidence lies in how long its players have been in Eberflus' scheme. Guys like Darius Leonard, Grover Stewart, Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammed, Kemoko Turay, Zaire Franklin and Kenny Moore II are entering their fourth year with Eberflus; Okereke, Khari Willis, Ben Banogu, and Rock Ya-Sin are in Year 3; Buckner, Xavier Rhodes, T.J. Carrie, Isaiah Rodgers and Julian Blackmon are in Year 2.
"I think we're all system guys and everybody's just more mature in the system," Okereke said. "And then I think you look top to bottom, athletically and physically, we match up great against every team. We're ready to go."