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Practice Notebook: Colts' secondary ready to step up ahead of 'statement game' versus Cincinnati Bengals

After running through a gauntlet of stout wide receivers this season, the Colts' secondary now have their sights set on the Bengals' trio of Ja'Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.

Practice Notebook Bengals WRs

Over the course of the season, the young Colts' secondary has faced their fair share of talented wide receiver corps. From the elusive wideouts on the Los Angeles Rams to the versatile pass catchers with the New Orleans Saints, they have more or less proven that they could hold their own.

"We've had success because our players hold each other accountable," cornerback Darrell Baker Jr. said. "We all challenge each other pretty well and everybody has answered that call and risen to the occasion. So, we just have to continue to do that."

However, this Sunday they face their biggest test yet as they will head to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals.

Despite the loss of starting quarterback Joe Burrow, backup Jake Browning's promotion has been made easier due to the talent around him. The Bengals boast one of the best offensive trios in the NFL comprised of Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and two-time Pro Bowler Ja'Marr Chase.

"You've got three dudes that are really good players," head coach Shane Steichen said. "Obviously, we've got to have a really good plan for all three of them. Obviously, Ja'Marr Chase is kind of their go-to guy, but those other two guys are legit players. But yeah, they've got three dudes that can play."

In Browning's second career start during the Bengals' Week 13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, he relied on the trio heavily, targeting them a combined 22 times on Monday night. Chase led the way catching 11 of his 12 targets for 149 yards and a touchdown.

As impressive as they are, you won't find any member of the Colts' secondary who finds defending them a daunting task.

"You kind of have to look at the number instead of the name behind it," safety Julian Blackmon said. "I think that our secondary has been playing well and as a team, we've been playing and hitting our stride at a good time. So, we just know it's an important game and that's all we got to focus on."

The significance of Sunday's matchup cannot be overstated for either team. At 6-6, the Bengals are only one game behind the Colts who are the AFC's seventh-seed with a 7-5 record. With a win, the Colts can strengthen their grasp on a Wild Card spot, whereas a loss could put them on the outside looking in of the playoffs.

"Whether it's defense or offense, coming out with a dub is going to be a statement game for us," Blackmon said. "We want to continue to build on what we've been building, especially with five more games on the way. So, we got to continue that and you know, it starts with preparation."

To ensure the team can hold down a playoff spot for another week, the secondary knows they have to do their jobs.

"We can't wait to get out there just to display how good we are and put it on film," cornerback Jaylon Jones said. "They got great, talented guys over there and I feel like we got great, talented guys in our room too. So, I really do like the matchup."

Thursday's practice report

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