OAKLAND, Calif. — Welcome back, Jack Doyle.
The Indianapolis Colts’ Pro Bowl tight end, who has been sidelined for the past five games with a hip injury, is officially active and expected to be in the lineup for the team today in its Week 8 road matchup against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda Stadium.
Another key player who has been playing through an injury, kicker Adam Vinatieri, is also expected to play today, and is well within reach of a prestigious NFL record, and the team's starting strong safety, Clayton Geathers, is expected to be back in the lineup after missing two games with a neck injury and a concussion.
Here’s the list of those who will be inactive in today’s game for the Colts: tackle/guard Denzelle Good, wide receiver Ryan Grant, safety Malik Hooker, wide receiver Steve Ishmael, defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway, tight end Erik Swoope and running back Robert Turbin.
Doyle, who earned his first-career Pro Bowl selection last season, suffered, and played through, a hip injury Week 2 against the Washington Redskins, and was just able to return to practice for the first time on Wednesday.
A limited participant in Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practice, Doyle was able to handle a full practice load on Friday, however, and wasn’t even labeled questionable heading into today’s game.
Colts head coach Frank Reich was asked if he had any hesitation bringing Doyle back with just three days of practice, and while he didn’t get into specifics, he said “the nature of the injury was a little bit different” than perhaps someone else facing a similar predicament.
‘It definitely was kind of a different category without getting into all of the X’s and O’s why but it really was – we were waiting on some things, some information,” Reich said of Doyle. “We got positive information; we are ready to go.”
It’s immediately unknown just how involved in the today’s gameplan Doyle will really be — wide receiver T.Y. Hilton returned from chest and hamstring injuries last Sunday and played just more than 50 percent of the offensive snaps in the Colts’ 37-5 victory over the Buffalo Bills — but the Colts are certainly excited to get their No. 1 tight end back in the mix to continue building a dangerous duo with Eric Ebron.
Ebron has flourished in Doyle’s absence — statistically he’s one of the top tight ends in the league when it comes to receptions, yards and touchdowns — and now his matchups could become even more favorable with Doyle back on the field.
Geathers, meanwhile, suffered both a concussion and a neck injury in the Week 5 game against the New England Patriots. He has been able to practice off and on the last couple weeks, but Reich had said the team was being extra cautious considering Geathers' another neck injury he suffered that required surgery back in 2016.
Is today the day for Vinny?
Vinatieri entered last week’s game against the Bills needing to score 10 points to break Morten Andersen’s all-time NFL points-scored record (2,544).
But after re-aggravating a right groin injury on his first kick attempt of the game — an extra-point try in the second quarter — Vinatieri would only be able to cut that deficit in half, scoring five points; one on a field goal, and two on extra points.
Vinatieri’s availability entering this week was iffy, however, and Reich said the team was bringing in kickers on a tryout basis to be ready to go just in case the 23-year NFL veteran couldn’t kick today against the Raiders.
But Vinatieri was able to test his groin injury out with positive results at Thursday’s practice, and was a full participant on Friday; all signs point to him being good to go for this Week 8 matchup.