HOUSTON — The boys are back in town — H-Town, that is.
The Indianapolis Colts have some returning firepower for today's Week 13 road matchup against the Houston Texans, as several key contributors who have missed time of late, including two starting defensive linemen — DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry — as well as starting center, Ryan Kelly, and running back Jonathan Taylor, are all officially active.
Those inactive for the Colts today are defensive end Ben Banogu, tackle Anthony Castonzo, quarterback Jacob Eason, linebacker Bobby Okereke, wide receiver Dezmon Patmon, punter Rigoberto Sanchez and safety Khari Willis.
Autry, Buckner and Taylor were all on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and missed last Sunday's Week 12 matchup against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Indy defense struggled without two of its top playmakers available, particularly up front, as Tennessee racked up 229 total rushing yards — the most allowed by the Colts since 2014 — including 178 from Derrick Henry.
Autry's return gives the Colts' defense its leader in sacks (6.0) back in the lineup after missing the last two games; the seventh-year Mississippi State product also does a solid job setting the edge in the run game.
Buckner's return, meanwhile, puts one of the top overall interior defenders in the league back on the field for the Colts; Buckner's 89.6 defensive grade from Pro Football Focus ranks fourth among all interior defensive linemen, while his 13 quarterback hits are the third most.
Kelly, who missed last week's game with a neck injury, and Taylor should provide some stability and playmaking ability against a Texans defense that ranks 30th in yards allowed and 31st against the run.
Today's game also will mark the Colts debut of punter Ryan Allen. Allen, who was initially signed to the practice squad earlier in the week, was elevated to the active roster on Saturday. He's a temporary replacement for Rigoberto Sanchez, who is set to miss an undetermined amount of time after undergoing successful surgery on Tuesday to remove a cancerous tumor.
The left-footed Allen has played in 105 career games in his time with the Titans (2020), Atlanta Falcons (2019) and New England Patriots (2013-18). He has totaled 445 punts for 20,102 yards (45.2 avg./40.0 net avg.) with 167 pinned inside the 20-yard line.