INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday held their final practice of the week to prepare for Thursday’s preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals. What all did we learn on the day?
Parris Campbell made his return to the practice field Monday after dealing with a nagging hamstring.
He could make his NFL debut Thursday night.
The Colts take on the Bengals in their preseason finale at Paul Brown Stadium in two nights, and head coach Frank Reich said “it’s looking like” the second-round pick Campbell will get some snaps in the game.
Reich said Campbell “got through practice well,” and hopes to use his reps in Thursday’s game to measure his progress and help determine if he could be good to go for the team’s regular season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 8.
Campbell missed the last 12 training camp practices, as well as the team’s three practices last week back at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, as he worked his way back from his injury. Reich said the staff will try to find the right balance between getting Campbell back up to speed and just letting him get a feel for practices and games moving forward.
“Yes, he is a rookie, he needs to play, get a feel because he’s been out for a little bit,” Reich said. “The flip side of that is he’s played a lot of football, so he’s a smart guy, he’s stayed in it, so I think this is more a question about when we feel like he’s physically able to go.”
Campbell said Tuesday he was glad to "knock off some rust" in practice this week and is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to play his first game with the Colts.
"I feel back to my old self," Campbell said. "I think I just need to get my feet wet, whether it's a couple series, but I'm leaving it up to the training staff and the coaching staff; they know what's right for me. But practice has been good."
Reich confirmed Tuesday that the Colts’ starters will not play Thursday night against the Bengals. Most of the No. 1 offense and defense also didn’t play in Saturday’s preseason Week 3 game against the Chicago Bears, either.
“Yes, it’ll be similar,” Reich said of the gameplan for Thursday. “The ones won’t play; there might even be a couple other guys who don’t play.”
As usual, the last preseason game will serve as a perfect opportunity for those battling for the final roster spots on the Colts’ 53-man roster to state their case before final cuts begin later in the week. The Colts must make their final cuts from 90 to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday.
“This is a great opportunity for the guys that are playing to get one last look on tape to show us and really show the league what you can do. (There are) tough decisions at the back end of the roster, and every play’s important.”
Wide receiver Devin Funchess has been dealing with a back injury in recent days, Reich confirmed Tuesday.
But because the starters aren’t playing Thursday against the Bengals, Funchess has been held out of practice as a precaution.
“He had an incident in practice the other day where he kinda had a back spasm-type thing that we’re just trying to make sure to get him ready for Week 1 and play it safe since we knew he wasn’t going to be playing,” Reich said. “He’s making good progress and feel fairly confident he’ll be ready.”
Asked about an update on defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who underwent a minor knee procedure early during training camp, Reich said: “He’s continuing to make progress, but as far as closer to getting back, I have no update on that.”
Reich said he’s “optimistic” about the progress of running back Jordan Wilkins, who has been dealing with a foot injury in recent weeks, but does not yet have a timetable for his return.
Back to normal
Tuesday’s practice marked just three days since quarterback Andrew Luck announced his retirement from the Colts and the NFL.
While the news evoked all sorts of emotions around the team’s facility, the busy schedule this week, heading into next week’s preparations for Week 1 of the regular season, left the Colts with no choice but to respectfully shift their focus back to football.
Reich said Tuesday’s agenda was a big step forward for his team.
“You know, emotionally, emotionally felt like a more normal day,” Reich said. “Obviously the schedule is the fourth week preseason game, so that’s a little bit different. But I think now that all the announcements have been made and everything’s been done, I think we’re just in the mode (of), ‘OK, let’s just get ready for the season.’”