INDIANAPOLIS – In football world, this Thursday for the Colts was treated like a normal Friday of game week.
That meant practice for the Raiders concluded on Thursday afternoon for the Colts (7-7), with the team heading to California on Friday for their Week 16 matchup with the Raiders (11-3).
Here is the Thursday notebook with Chuck Pagano and Robert Mathis meeting the media:**
- G-Denzelle Good (concussion): Good has one final clearance to go through in the concussion protocol. If Good makes it through that, he will be ready to go for the first time in three weeks.
- QB-Andrew Luck (right shoulder, right thumb): Luck was a full participant at Thursday's practice. The right thumb indication on the injury report is for a cut on Luck's throwing hand. Luck wore a glove during the second half of last Sunday's win.
- WR-Donte Moncrief (hamstring): Chuck Pagano said Moncrief is "good to go" for Saturday's game with the Raiders. Moncrief left the team's loss to the Texans two weeks ago with a hamstring injury.
- OT-Joe Reitz (back): Reitz progressed to a full participant at Thursday's practice. Reitz missed last week's win over the Vikings.
Chuck Pagano on the health of the offensive line:
"We have a lot of bodies available."
Bowen's Analysis: With Denzelle Good and Joe Reitz back to practice this week, the Colts are extremely healthy up front (with Jack Mewhort, of course, being on injured reserve). That bolsters a group coming off its finest performance of 2016.
During the open media portion of Thursday's practice, we saw the Colts stick with the same line combination that was used up in Minnesota. If the Colts do send out the same starting five come Saturday, it will be another course of learning for rookie Le'Raven Clark. Opposite Clark this week could very well be Oakland's Khalil Mack, one of the league's most dangerous rushers.
Robert Mathis on the difficultly of sacking Oakland's Derek Carr:
"Their O-line is very, very serious. They do a great job protecting, working together and the quarterback does a great job of directing and making plays."
Bowen's Analysis: Oakland's offensive line is big, averaging more than 320 pounds a man across their starting unit. It's not the size that Mathis necessarily attributes to the best pass-protecting unit in the NFL. The cohesion and health up front is a major reason why the Raiders are back into the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Last week, the Colts won in the trenches, especially in passing situations, on both sides of the ball. Why? Well, don't overlook what they did on early downs to stay away from those non-advantageous third downs. An early lead certainly helped as well. We will see if the Colts can help out the trench play again this week in doing what they did up in Minnesota (get an early lead and winning on first/second down).Robert Mathis on his uncertain future and not thinking about what will happen after 2016:
"If you don't do your job and make plays it will answer it for you (laughs)."
Bowen's Analysis: Robert Mathis, a 2003 fifth-round pick of the Colts, is a free agent come 2017. After 14 years in Indianapolis the question is real: Are we watching the final two games of Mathis in a Colts' uniform? Or even Mathis in the NFL?
Mathis says he "still hates quarterbacks" and as long as that feeling is alive, he wants to keep on playing. Knowing the business side of the NFL, Mathis also realizes the fairy tale ending might not happen. Mathis spoke on Thursday about how rare it is to play for one team from the start of a career through the finish. Mathis says he can't imagine going anywhere else, but will that same thought be here come March, if the Colts do not re-sign him, and No. 98 still wants to play?**
Here is Thursday's injury report:
-DNP: ILB-Chris Carter (shoulder), OLB-Erik Walden (rest)
-FULL: S-Mike Adams (rest), CB-Vontae Davis (rest), OG-Denzelle Good (concussion), RB-Frank Gore (rest), QB-Andrew Luck (right shoulder & right thumb), OLB-Robert Mathis (rest), CB-Rashaan Melvin (knee), WR-Donte Moncrief (hamstring), OT-Joe Reitz (back)