INDIANAPOLIS – With the winter chill alive and well in Indianapolis, playoff-type football is also coming to town this weekend.
The Colts will be without five starters on Sunday, including four on the defensive side of the ball.
Here is the Friday notebook looking ahead to one of the more important regular season games we've seen at Lucas Oil Stadium:
INJURY STATUS FOR WEEK 14
- OUT: S-Clayton Geathers (neck): Geathers did not practice all week. It's a week-to-week timetable for the team's starting safety, alongside Mike Adams. That timetable means Geathers could be missing some time.
- OUT: OG-Denzelle Good (concussion): Good did not practice all week. The team's starting right guard left Monday's game with a concussion and remains in the protocol. With Good out, expect rookie Joe Haeg to slide over to right guard, and Joe Reitz to re-enter the starting lineup at right tackle.
- OUT: DT-Zach Kerr (concussion): Kerr did not practice this week. The reserve defensive lineman is in the concussion protocol.
- OUT: OLB-Robert Mathis (bicep): Mathis did not practice all week. The plan for Mathis to practice this week did not come to fruition. Pagano said Mathis is getting better, but is not "quite there" in being at the percentage the Colts would like to see.
- QUT: CB-Patrick Robinson (groin): Robinson worked in a limited role on Thursday, but did not practice on Friday. Pagano said Robinson had a setback at Thursday's practice. Robinson has battled a groin injury for the past few weeks.
- QUESTIONABLE: Curt Maggitt (concussion): The rookie outside linebacker was a full participant at Friday's practice. Maggitt progressing through the concussion protocol is needed with Robert Mathis again out.
Chuck Pagano on Sunday's meeting with the Texans:
"There's no trophies for second place.
"There's only one division champ."
Bowen's Analysis: Players and coaches this week have not shied away from addressing the importance of Sunday. They know the stakes and how a loss would lead to quite the big hole for the Colts to climb out of the next three weeks.
The Colts faced a very similar situation last year, in Week 15, against the Texans. The biggest difference this time around? Andrew Luck is healthy and under center. Luck has won nine straight divisional home games. His last AFC South loss at home came in Week Three of his 2012 rookie season (on an 80-yard, final-minute, touchdown by the Jaguars).Chuck Pagano on needing young guys to step up on defense this week:
"They don't have the same amount of snaps as some of the other guys that aren't playing right now, but we have done our due diligence to put schemes together and game plans to accentuate their strengths."
Bowen's Analysis: If T.J. Green starts at safety this week (instead of Darius Butler moving back there), the Colts will have three defensive rookie starters against the Texans. When the Colts took four defenders during the 2016 Draft, it wasn't known exactly how much those defenders would play as rookies. Well, here comes the biggest game of the season and the Colts will be starting at least two rookies (DT-Hassan Ridgeway and ILB-Antonio Morrison), with a third (Green) either starting or playing a major role.
From a health standpoint, the Texans have some good news and bad news. The good is former No. 1 overall pick DE-Jadeveon Clowney (wrist/elbow) says he will be playing after practicing on Thursday and Friday. The Texans will likely be without starting CB-Johnathan Joseph (ribs) though.Chuck Pagano on Patrick Robinson having a setback at Thursday's practice:
"We've been down this road before.
"I think we've been in worse shape before."
Bowen's Analysis: The hope for Robinson playing against Houston took a bad turn at Thursday's practice. A setback for Robinson means the Colts will be without their starting cornerback opposite Vontae Davis again this week.
Where the Robinson loss complicates things for the Colts is they are now down a starting corner and a starting safety (Clayton Geathers). If the Colts now want to use Darius Butler at safety in their nickel/dime looks, they will have to rely on Darryl Morris in the slot. We've seen Butler play safety before in the base defense, so that could be the look for the Colts with the injuries in the secondary impacting just how Ted Monachino can use his different passing down packages.**
FINAL INJURY REPORT**
Here is Friday's injury report:
-DNP: CB-Darius Butler (hamstring), S-Clayton Geathers (neck), OG-Denzelle Good (concussion), WR-T.Y. Hilton (back), DT-Zach Kerr (concussion), OLB-Robert Mathis (bicep), CB-Patrick Robinson (groin), OLB-Erik Walden (rest)
-LIMITED: QB-Andrew Luck (right shoulder)
-FULL: RB-Frank Gore (rest), OLB-Curt Maggitt (concussion)