INDIANAPOLIS —The bye week is a great opportunity for players and coaches to get a brief break from the greuling grind that the National Football League schedule provides.
But, for the Indianapolis Colts, their late bye week comes at just the right time to possibly get some key reinforcements back on the active roster for the rest of the season.
Head coach Chuck Pagano this week said he's "hopeful" to get three players in particular — safety Clayton Geathers, tight end Mo Alie-Cox and outside linebacker John Simon — back in time for their next game, against the Tennessee Titans Nov. 26 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Here's an update on each player:
• Safety Clayton Geathers: Geathers, who underwent neck surgery this offseason, was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list at the start of the season. He began practicing about three weeks ago, and on Tuesday, the team activated Geathers to its active roster, a very promising sign for a Colts defense that is hoping to see one of its top playmakers from a season ago return to the lineup ASAP.
"He looks really good, and there's still work to be done," Pagano said of Geathers' progress late last week. "But he's looked tremendous, and again, it isn't a football game where he's tackling and doing all that stuff live to the ground but he looks normal. Just back, back to being Clayton."
Pagano said Geathers even looks "leaner" than his 2016 version.
"His body is different," Pagano said. "He's fast. He's twitchy. The cover skills, the instincts, the range – you see all that stuff, and I think he's a little lighter than when he last played. So, he looks really good."
• Tight end Erik Swoope: Swoope had finally grabbed a hold of the No. 2 tight end job behind Jack Doyle when he injured his knee during training camp and required a scope to clean it out. He was placed on injured reserve at the beginning of the season, though the team was hopeful it could eventually utilize one of its two IR-return designations on him.
While he's been a constant in tight end meetings all season, Swoope finally returned to practice last week, and he's hoping he can be activated by the Week 12 matchup against the Titans.
"I mean, I'm excited to watch the guys, but I want to be out there," Swoope said. "It's killing me, but I'm trying to use that for positive."
The Colts already used one of their IR-return designations on tackle/guard Denzelle Good, who suffered a wrist injury Week 1 and officially made his return last Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. If the Colts feel Swoope is 100 percent and ready to go, they can choose to bring him back to the active roster; or they can keep him on IR after a set period of time and see if they have any other players currently on IR that might be candidates to return by the end of the season.• Outside linebacker John Simon: Simon suffered a stinger in his neck in the Colts' Week 7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and has missed the team's three games since.
At the time of his injury, Simon had been putting together a terrific all-around season as one of the team's primary defensive playmakers, collecting 38 tackles (with a team-best six tackles for loss) with 3.0 sacks, a team-best 12 quarterback hits, one pass defensed and one interception that he returned for a touchdown.
Defensive coordinator Ted Monachino said he's liked what he's seen out of Barkevious Mingo, who has filled into Simon's spot in the lineup, though Mingo provides a much different skillset than Simon.
"The thing that John does is John is really good early in the down, where Barkevious is really good late in the down," Monachino said. "So it's a little different animal there. Thrilled with where (Mingo) is. I know he feels like he can improve a lot, and I see more and more each day of him being better early in the down and then his athletic ability can take over and he can still make those late-in-the-down plays."