INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts on Thursday held their second of three days of on-field preparations for Sunday's Week 5 contest against the Cleveland Browns. What were some of the top takeaways on the day? Here's today's Colts Notebook.
Here is the Colts' Thursday injury report:
— The injuries keep on hitting the Colts' linebacker position. Already with two starters, Darius Leonard (groin) and Bobby Okereke (thumb) on the injury report heading into Thursday, starting MIKE linebacker Anthony Walker also missed practice today with an ankle injury. Head coach Frank Reich does not typically speak to reporters on Thursdays, so we'll likely have to wait until Friday to get any sort of update on Walker's status for Sunday's game against the Browns.
— There is a little bit of promising news at linebacker, however. Okereke, who underwent thumb surgery earlier in the week, was able to be a full participant today, as he was donning a large club-like cast on his left hand. E.J. Speed (elbow), meanwhile, was able to be upgraded from a limited participant on Wednesday to a full participant today. Okereke, Speed, Zaire Franklin and Jordan Glasgow, as of now, remain the more available Colts linebackers heading into Sunday's game, while the team also has linebackers Jonas Griffith and Najee Goode, who was brought back just today after spending the 2018 season in Indy, on its practice squad if needed.
— With Anthony Castonzo missing his second day of practice today with a rib injury, that leaves Le'Raven Clark or Chaz Green as the likeliest candidates to play at left tackle Sunday vs. the Browns if Castonzo can't go. The fifth-year veteran Clark has played 10 snaps at left tackle already this season — six in Week 3 to close out a blowout victory over the New York Jets, and four in place of Castonzo to finish out last Sunday's win over the Chicago Bears.
'Ultimate goal' is to play Sunday
Darius Leonard went down with a groin injury late in the first half of last Sunday's win over the Chicago Bears, and wasn't able to return to the ballgame.
The Colts' two-time All-Pro linebacker has also been held out of practice the first two days of practice this week, and said today that while, of course, he wants to be able to play this Sunday against the Browns, it'll also be important not to risk further injury.
"I'm feeling better each day," Leonard said. "You've gotta take it one day at a time. I think we're going to take all the right precautions. You know, if I'm going to practice or if I'm not going to practice, I really don't know yet. But the ultimatel goal is to be out there on Sunday, but, you know, you've gotta be smart, you gotta take care of yourself."
Leonard, who leads the team with 27 tackles (two for a loss), believes he could theoretically play Sunday if he doesn't practice this week — "I've seen enough ball, I think," he added — but he'll trust the judgment of the Colts' medical staff once the decision needs to be made.
"I mean, me as a competitor, I want to go on and be out there, but, you know, sometimes you've got to have your trainers or someone to be there and take your mind out of it, because you're a competitor and you want to be out there and they've got to save you from yourself sometimes," Leonard said. "So I'm going to take all the right precautions; I'm going to do everything in my will to get back."
Glad to be back
After an injury-plagued season in 2019 with the Bears, Trey Burton signed a one-year free agent deal with the Colts this offseason to get back on the right track under Frank Reich, his former offensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles.
But after putting in a tremendous effort in training camp, Burton would go down with a calf injury on Aug. 29 during the team's second and final intersquad scrimmage at Lucas Oil Stadium. While he wasn't expected to be sidelined too long, the team decided to take advantage of the new injured reserve rules in place exclusively this season that would allow them to place Burton on IR but return him after a minimum of just three games missed.
Still, considering the circumstances, Burton had every right to be a little bit irked at his situation to begin the season.
"It was real frustrating. I'm not gonna lie," Burton said. "I felt like I was just starting to get back into a groove. As you know, I was out for a lot last year, and the last thing I wanted to do was get injured again.
"The question was do I go on IR or do I not, just because if I'm on IR, I've got to be out for three weeks. So there's a lot of conversation. I obviously didn't want to go on IR, but I respected the decision by everybody to put me on there. It definitely wasn't fun and definitely not how I wanted my season to start, but I'm glad I'm here."
Burton was able to make his Colts debut in last Sunday's win over his former team, the Bears; he was targeted with five passes and ended up logging two receptions for 16 yards, while also falling on Chicago's last-ditch-effort onside kick to end the game.
"Yeah, this offense is fun," Burton said. "I'm really impressed with just the game planning and the scheming. I think the offensive staff does an awesome job of getting guys open and kind of playing to their strengths."
'I was just in pain'
Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin spoke to reporters today for the first time since missing two games Weeks 2 and 3 with what was described by the team as a "non-football illness."
Ya-Sin was a last-minute addition to the Colts' inactives list Sept. 20 against the Minnesota Vikings after being taken to a local hospital for evaluation and eventually undergoing procedure, according to Reich. Ya-Sin would also miss Indy's next game against the New York Jets.
Ya-Sin today gave a few details about what happened that day in the hours before the Vikings game.
"I showed up to the stadium, I wasn't feeling well," Ya-Sin said. "I was just in pain. I ended up missing two games. It was bad."
While the exact issue he faced is personal in nature, Ya-Sin assured reporters today that it wasn't ever COVID-19 related, despite some outside speculation to the contrary at the time.
"I knew I didn't have COVID, because we obviously get tested every day and everything," Ya-Sin. "I wouldn't say it was necessarily fear, it was kind of just I was more so upset that I wasn't going to be able to play that Sunday."