INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts know what to expect out of the Tennessee Titans’ defense on Sunday.
And that’s the unexpected.
The Titans and defensive coordinator Dean Pees threw the kitchen sink at the Cleveland Browns last Sunday in their 43-13 Week 1 victory, and Colts head coach Frank Reich is very well aware of what his offense is standing up against in this Sunday’s Week 2 contest at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
“Their defense ranks high on the exotic scale,” Reich said Wednesday. “Sometimes offensive coordinators refer to it as a ‘Rolodex’-kind of defense, meaning he’s calling something different on every play. ‘Let’s just dial up the next card, the next call.’ And they do it well. And so that’s part of their DNA; that’s who they’ve been.”
Reich and the Colts were able to have their share of success in their two wins against the Titans last year, averaging more than 35 points per game in those two contests. But Tennessee has all sorts of momentum after shutting down Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and the much-hyped Cleveland Browns offense on Sunday — a unit that certainly made its plays against the Colts at times during the two teams’ joint training camp practices last month at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind.
But last Sunday against the Titans, Mayfield was picked off three times (including a pick-six late in the fourth quarter) and sacked on five occasions (including for a safety late in the second quarter).
“I think the Cleveland offense looked pretty good against us, and (we got) a chance to see those guys up close,” Reich said. “So that’s the thing with that kind of a defense; when there’s some momentum behind it, when you feel like you get behind — and I don’t know what was going through their quarterback’s mind and so on and so forth — but you gain momentum sometimes as a defense when you’re making calls and switching it up and bringing pressure and getting home, and I think that’s what happened on Sunday.”
Jabaal Sheard is continuing to work his way back from a knee injury that has kept him out of practice going on almost seven weeks now.
Sheard, the Colts’ starting defensive end, last practiced with the Colts on July 25, the first day of training camp, but reported feeling “soreness and swelling” in his knee following that session. Reich confirmed Aug. 6 that Sheard had undergone a minor knee procedure to fix the issue, acknowledging it was a “possibility” he could miss time to start the regular season.
While Sheard wasn’t placed on injured reserve to start the season — which could be considered positive news, considering he’d have to sit out at least the first eight weeks had he been placed on IR — he wasn’t active for last Sunday’s season opener against the Chargers.
Sheard continued to be held out of practice on Wednesday, but Reich said the veteran is “making very good progress.”
“Obviously not going to say any status, but we are encouraged,” Reich added.
The Indianapolis Colts are back on the field at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center ahead of their divisional matchup with the Tennessee Titans.
The Colts have eight defensive linemen on their 53-man roster, and with Sheard still dealing with his knee injury, that usually means at least one other defensive linemen being inactive on gamedays.
Last Sunday against the Chargers, that inactive defensive lineman was Tyquan Lewis, who was seen getting significant reps at the three-tech spot during training camp and the preseason, typically spelling starter Denico Autry, but also playing a major role in the team's third-down rush package.
So why was Lewis inactive in Week 1?
“Just more-so not enough practice time before Week 1,” Reich said. “I mean, it’s usually a week-to-week decision, but Tyquan probably hadn’t quite practiced enough in our eyes to be physically ready to go, so we’ll re-evaluate that this week.”
Lewis had missed some time during the preseason — including two games — with a knee injury, and returned to practice Aug. 26.
Here’s the full injury report from Wednesday’s practice:
» DNP: DE Jabaal Sheard (knee); DE Kemoko Turay (neck); RB Jonathan Williams (rib)
» Limited: N/A
» Full: N/A