Practice Notebook

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Practice Notebook: Colts Get Back To Football With Jeff Saturday As Interim Head Coach

After a whirlwind 48 hours, Jeff Saturday coached his first practice as the Colts' interim head coach on Wednesday. 

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Jeff Saturday pinged from meeting to meeting, greeting to greeting, task to task over his first 48 hours – "I feel like every time I stand up and go to the door to say goodbye to somebody, I have someone else walking in," he said.

On Wednesday, the next task finally became running a walkthrough, and then a practice. Preparation is officially underway for Sunday's game against the Las Vegas Raiders, the first of eight games Saturday will be the Colts' interim head coach.

"For me, the best thing is to get on the grass," Saturday said. "I can't tell you how excited I am to actually go do football. I've got notes from this walk-thru this morning. So, now we'll get into the actual coaching and those things."

At that walkthrough – which Saturday said was "crisp" – players and coaches felt a sense of normalcy getting back to work with a game in a few days.

"On paper it looks different but it didn't feel any different, you just look back there and see Jeff Saturday as your head coach," center Ryan Kelly said. "It's the same guys, a lot of the same schemes, simplify some things up and go out there and play fast."

The changes, of course, are Saturday as the head coach and Parks Frazier as the offensive playcaller. Saturday said he made a few minor adjustments to how the Colts practice, but also acknowledged the increased workload put on his coaching staff this week while praising their energy, commitment and teamwork.

"We're understaffed. Let's be real," Saturday said. "The two guys that called our plays, the OC, the OC and the head (coach), all gone. That's a big deal. I hope people understand the weight of what that is. Now you've reduced the people and increased the workload and you bring a guy in that is not familiar with all the stuff that goes into real ball so I'm playing catch-up at the same time. It's a tall task ahead but again, we're going to put this thing together step by step.

"These guys are good football coaches. They understand. They are very bright people that know their roles and everyone to a man, has stepped up and then some. Can I stay late? What else can I do? What other box can we check together? Can I help when – when I told the offense that Parks was going to do this, I think it was Reggie (Wayne) slapped the table, let's go. He got excited. What can we do to help? The energy and the excitement for these guys. These guys like each other, they treasure each other and they're helping each other. That's been huge for me just to watch that."

And for players still digesting the head coaching change from Frank Reich to Saturday, getting back to a normal gameweek has been centering.

"It's funny, you're on Twitter and everybody's just killing us, killing us," linebacker Zaire Franklin said. "And then I come in on Tuesday and talk about the gameplan, the biggest thing is how do we stop Davante Adams, how do we stop Josh Jacobs. And it was, to me, that just kind of calmed my whole sense of everything that was going on just because, you know, we still got a goal to accomplish this week."

Veteran safety Rodney McLeod Jr. urged his teammates this week to treat every day like the Colts are in "playoff mode," with little margin for error while holding a 3-5-1 record. The urgency to turn the 2022 season around exists in the team's locker room. And while the Colts aren't happy with their record, Saturday sees a group of players and coaches capable of digging out of their first-half hole.

"I believe this is a good football team," Saturday said. "They've played in some games where they haven't played their best. The players have to step up and make plays. The talent is definitely there. These guys have it. Can't beat ourselves, made a lot of mistakes.

"Biggest point of emphasis on offense, don't turn the ball over. That pigskin controls 53 of you and a whole lot of others livelihoods. That thing has got to stay with us. On the other side, get that thing out. It's fairly simple. That was the main message is we can't beat ourselves. We have to play consistent football, be disciplined, be tough, be fast, be physical. All the things that I believe in as a man and as a football player, just breathing that into them.

"Then, the expectation is we execute and execute means that we do what we're coached to do. Ain't no adlibbing. You can't fix problems if we adlib. We do what we're asked to do so we're all on one page. We can make corrections when needed and hopefully that formula wins."

Wednesday's practice report:

  • Wide receiver Ashton Dulin, who was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 11, was designated to return to practice on Wednesday, Saturday said. The Colts now have 21 days to activate Dulin from injured reserve back on to their active roster.

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