Colts Daily Notebook: Final Preparations For Bears; Starters Emphasize Situational Football

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts on Thursday held their final practice ahead of Saturday’s third preseason game against the Chicago Bears. What all did we learn on the day?

Practice update

The Colts were inside wearing helmets, shells and shorts for Thursday’s final practice of the week as the team gets ready for the Bears game, while also continues putting in preparations for the regular season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Among those not seen participating in the opening portion of practice available to be seen by the media: quarterback Andrew Luck (ankle), wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (not disclosed), wide receiver Parris Campbell (hamstring), wide receiver Devin Funchess (not disclosed), running back Jordan Wilkins (foot), running back Jonathan Williams (chest), cornerback Marvell Tell III (not disclosed), linebacker Zaire Franklin (not disclosed), defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee) and defensive tackle/end Tyquan Lewis (knee).

Kicker Adam Vinatieri, who had missed the last six training camp practices as well as the first two days of practice this week as he dealt with a knee injury, was back in action for the Colts on Thursday.

Others who were back Thursday who were not seen participating Wednesday: safety Clayton Geathers, cornerback Nate Hairston and cornerback Isaiah Langley.

Lewis out

Second-year defensive tackle/end Tyquan Lewis, who missed last Saturday’s game against the Browns, as well as two practices this week, is dealing with a knee issue, Reich said today.

The injury is not believed to be serious, however.

“We’re just being safe and letting him get back to full strength,” Reich said.

Lewis is listed on the team’s unofficial depth chart as its starting nose tackle, while he’s was mostly being used at the three-technique behind starter Denico Autry during training camp.

The Ohio State product, who started the 2018 season on injured reserve with a foot injury and came back midway through the year, finished his rookie season with 13 tackles (three for a loss) with 2.0 sacks, eight quarterback hits and one pass defensed.

Situational football

Colts head coach Frank Reich on Wednesday announced most of the team’s starters would not be playing against the Bears, bucking league tradition that usually called for No. 1 units to play about a half in the final “dress rehearsal” for the regular season.

The goal, Reich said, is to keep his starters as healthy as possible entering the regular season, which will, in turn, give the team more chances to evaluate the players vying for final roster spots over the last two games of the preseason.

Asked Thursday about the “fine line” about getting the starters ready to go vs. avoiding injuries, Reich said the team’s emphasis on situational football in practice makes them confident they’ll be ready to go heading into Week 1, even without the extra preseason reps on Saturday.

“Yeah, there’s a fine line — I would agree with you there’s a fine line — however, what gives me confidence in doing that is how much game speed work we’ve had; how much situational work we’ve had,” Reich said. “I think the big difference these days compared to a few years back, I think teams have gotten better and better at getting ready for situational football and applying that stuff. That’s really the stuff that the games show. And so we do an immense amount of red zone work, third down work, two-minute work — all the way in the offseason we get all the little plays, all the little situational plays, and the game plays.

“And we really emphasize this; we really emphasize this as an offense and as a defense, and we put ourselves in so many of those situations that we feel confident and ready to go.”

As for the players that will take part in the final two preseason games, Reich said he’s been glad to have had two close contests to start so that the coaching staff can see how they react to more pressure-filled situations.

“I mean, we like the competitive games,” Reich said. “There’s situations that come up, plays under pressure, and so every bit of that is helpful. When it’s a close game, competitive game, I think it helps those situations.”

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