INDIANAPOLIS – Andrew Luck should be sleeping a bit easier this week.
Not only is Luck not boarding a plane for eight hours on Thursday night, but he's also been practicing alongside a much healthier offensive line unit after two days of practice.
Here is the Thursday notebook with Frank Gore about to pass an NFL great, plus we hear from coordinators Rob Chudzinski and Ted Monachino.
- CB-Darius Butler (hamstring): Butler was limited for a second straight practice as he comes back from a two-week hiatus.
- T-Denzelle Good (back): Good continues to be limited. If Good can't go on Sunday, look for rookie Joe Haeg back at right guard.
- C/G-Jonotthan Harrison (illness): The appendectomy Harrison had last week will keep him off the field against the Bears. Harrison should be back next week.
- WR-Donte Moncrief (shoulder): Moncrief is three weeks into a recovery that was expected to keep him out four-to-six weeks.
- OT-Joe Reitz (back): Reitz was upgraded to a full participant on Thursday. That's a great sign for him to return to action this weekend.
Frank Gore on the verge of passing Jim Brown on the NFL's all-time rushing list:
"It's crazy, man. It's a blessing.
"Especially from what I've been through in my life. Coming out of college, everybody saying I'm injury prone (two ACL tears, one in each knee)."
Bowen's Analysis: With 20 rushing yards on Sunday, Gore will pass Jim Brown (12,312) for 9th on the NFL's all-time rushing list. That is Jim Brown---a player some think is the greatest running back to ever play the game.
Gore told a story Thursday of when Brown came to visit the San Francisco 49ers, who were then coached by Mike Singletary. On that visit, Brown singled out Gore for his play and it was something that surprised the young 49ers' running back. With how Gore is still running (on pace for 1,000 yards this season), there's no telling when his Hall of Fame resume will be complete. Gore is only strengthening his candidacy for Canton.Ted Monachino on preparing for the Bears:
"They present a big physical challenge. Number one, their offensive line is a big physical group of men that will sprint off the football in the run game and they've got two explosive physical tail backs behind them with (Jordan) Howard and (Joique) Bell and yesterday they brought up a fullback, so we know what type of game to expect out of the offensive line."
Bowen's Analysis: Monachino is expecting a heavy dose of rookie running back Jordan Howard, who had 111 yards in the Bears' first win of the 2016 last season. Quarterback Brian Hoyer has impressed in relief of Jay Cutler (injured thumb) and he will likely try and rely on Howard and the run game in visiting Indianapolis.
On Thursday, Monachino touched on how he feels the Colts can create some pressure against Hoyer, when the Bears do try and throw the football. The Colts saw first-hand last year how Hoyer can get into a rhythm (the Colts faced Hoyer in a 2015 Week Five contest with Houston). Monachino said on Thursday that he must do a better job of getting Robert Mathis in one-on-one situations, trying to get the franchise's all-time sack leader his first one of 2016.
Rob Chudzinski on the lack of execution early in games:
"What we do after the game is we really study and we look at what were the drive killers during the course of the game. Those are the things we try to work on, get better at and really detail out with the guys.
"Those are the things, when you get back and work in practice and address those things in the meeting and film room that you want to see improvement."
Bowen's Analysis: The Colts could be Usain Bolt-fast with their offensive tempo on Sunday, but it won't matter if they can't avoid those drive killers that Chud points out. Last week against the Jaguars, there were drops, busts in protection and even a few penalties that led to the offensive struggles for nearly the entirety of the first three quarters.
Chud mentioned on Thursday how continuity and improved protection up front should help the overall offensive flow. We've seen starters RT-Joe Reitz (full) and RG-Denzelle Good (limited) get back to practice this week, giving the Colts the starting five we saw in Weeks One and Two (before Good had to exit due to a back injury against Denver).**
Here is Thursday's injury report:
-DNP: C/G-Jonotthan Harrison (illness), ILB-D'Qwell Jackson (rest), DE-Kendall Langford (rest), WR-Donte Moncrief (shoulder)
-LIMITED: CB-Darius Butler (hamstring), T-Denzelle Good (back), QB-Andrew Luck (right shoulder)
-FULL: RB-Frank Gore (chest), OLB-Robert Mathis (rest), OT-Joe Reitz (back), OLB-Erik Walden (chest)