INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday began preparations for Sunday’s Week 4 matchup against the Oakland Raiders without a few key players on the field for practice.
Among those who did not participate Wednesday were cornerback Pierre Desir, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, center Ryan Kelly and linebacker Darius Leonard.
» Desir, the Colts’ top cornerback, was listed with a hamstring injury on Wednesday. He played all 61 defensive snaps last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons and finished with four tackles.
» Hilton re-aggravated a quad injury late in the second quarter of last Sunday’s victory over the Falcons and did not return. Hilton, who leads the NFL with four touchdown receptions through three weeks, said Tuesday his quad was feeling better, but it was still too early to determine whether he’d be able to play Sunday against the Raiders.
» Kelly missed Wednesday’s practice with an illness. The team’s backup at the center position is Josh Andrews, while Joe Haeg can also slide over and play center if needed.
» Leonard started feeling concussion-like symptoms following the Colts’ Week 2 victory over the Tennessee Titans and has not practiced since. Anthony Walker filled in Leonard’s spot at WILL linebacker last Sunday against the Falcons and had a team-best 14 tackles on the day.
Others who did not participate Wednesday included safety Malik Hooker (he’s out for a few weeks with a knee injury), defensive tackle/end Tyquan Lewis (ankle) and defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad (neck).
The Colts under head coach Frank Reich try to collaborate as much as possible, and that’s in play from the weekly gameplans all the way to mid-game adjustments and suggestions.
While the coaching staff handles a majority of the plans and schemes each week, Reich said he encourages his players to add input whenever they think they have something valuable to add.
“This is a very collaborative effort. We talk about working together — this is us together. And obviously the gameplanning is 99 percent the coaching staff doing it, but do we listen to ideas or thoughts? Absolutely. I mean, absolutely,” Reich said. “Players are stinkin’ smart, now. My experience as a player and as a coach is players know what’s going on; they’re out there, they feel it, they see it, they know what they can do, and if we’re going to talk about trusting our players, part of that is listening to what they have to say about what we’re actually asking them to do on the field.”
While there are times the coaches will stick with the original plan, the players appreciate the chance to make their voices heard.
“No question, Frank gives you the free range to talk to him throughout the game,” quarterback Jacoby Brissett said. “If I’m telling him I’m not feeling well about this or I want to do this more, he’ll listen. Obviously, we’ll have a dialogue about it, but he’s been pretty good about leaving that range for conversation.”
The Colts’ victory over the Falcons last Sunday represented their seventh straight win at Lucas Oil Stadium, a streak dating back to last season.
Reich and others commended the home crowd for making an impact last Sunday in the win over the Falcons, and hopes it can bring the same noise Sunday against the Raiders.
“We just try to win at home and exert our dominance and keep our fans happy,” tight end Eric Ebron said Wednesday. “As long as they bring the energy, that provides so much for us. … Their energy helps us so much. So, yeah, when it’s home it’s fun.”
That fun is felt in the Colts’ huddle, as Indy has scored at least 23 points in nine straight home games.
“It’s really an advantage, especially at Lucas Oil,” running back Nyheim Hines said. “Our fans always bring the juice, and it makes teams have a hard time on third down.”
“It was awesome,” Brissett said of the home crowd against the Falcons. “You felt the energy coming into the stadium and they played a big part in a tough game. I think they were one of the biggest difference makers in the game because it’s so hard. Speaking from us, when we go on the road and when the crowd is into it, it’s tough to block it out at times.”
Here’s the full injury report from Wednesday’s practice:
» DNP: CB Pierre Desir (hamstring), WR T.Y. Hilton (quad), S Malik Hooker (knee), C Ryan Kelly (illness), LB Darius Leonard (concussion), DT/DE Tyquan Lewis (ankle), Al-Quadin Muhammad (neck)
» Limited: S Rolan Milligan (knee); DE Jabaal Sheard (knee)
» Full: Jonathan Williams (rib)