INDIANAPOLIS — Start the countdown clock: the Indianapolis Colts have exactly one week until they open up the 2019 regular season on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Colts on Sunday held their first official practice of the 2019 regular season, a bonus day of sorts after the team made the moves necessary over the weekend to cut down from their 90-man offseason roster to their 53-man regular season roster.
“There was a real crispness to practice, real good focus,” Colts head coach Frank Reich told reporters after the session. “You could feel the attention to detail. Guys were locked in.”
Practicing indoors in helmets, shells and shorts, the Colts on Sunday saw the return of running back Jordan Wilkins, who has been out almost a month with a foot injury, causing him to miss all four preseason games. Wilkins’ return gives the Colts’ three healthy running backs on their active roster, joining Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines. Jonathan Williams, meanwhile, continues to sit out with a chest injury.
Williams was one of three players not seen participating in the early portion of Sunday’s practice; others included cornerback Kenny Moore II (thumb) and defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee).
Cornerback Ryan Lewis, just claimed off waivers by the Colts earlier in the day, also was not seen at Sunday’s practice.
‘This looks pretty good’
Reich and general manager Chris Ballard talked to the media after Sunday’s practice, where they were asked about the plethora of moves made by the team the last couple days to get to their initial 53-man roster.
Reich, specifically, said he had “a big smile on my face” Saturday night as he sat in Ballard’s office and was able to really take in his 2019 roster for the first time.
“‘This looks pretty good,’” Reich said was his reaction. “These are our guys, and I love that feeling and love looking at that final depth chart.”
The Colts now have more of a traditional regular season week ahead of them. The players are off Monday, are heavy into meetings on Tuesday and then practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before taking off for Los Angeles on Saturday.
‘Blessed and honored’
Hale Hentges faced long odds to make the Colts’ 53-man roster when he was signed by the team as an undrafted free agent back in May.
Known for his blocking prowess in the college game at Alabama, Hentges didn’t exactly come to Indy with eye-popping numbers as a pass catcher like others around him.
But Hentges surprised both Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni with his day-to-day consistency — and his overall improvement — in the pass game over the past three-plus months, especially during training camp practices, and, come Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, he was officially a member of the Colts’ initial 53-man roster.
The team has now had an undrafted rookie free agent make its Week 1 roster for 21 straight years, the longest active streak in the NFL.
“I just feel extremely honored,” Hentges said Sunday. “I think that’s the biggest thing going through my mind — just blessed and honored to be in this situation.”
Hentges said he knows the work doesn’t stop now that he’s made it this far, however.
“I just felt very fortunate to be able to be one of the ones here right now,” he said, “and I’m just going to work every day to hopefully make that stay the same.”