INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday held their second of three days of on-field preparations for Saturday's 2020 Wild Card Round contest against the Buffalo Bills. What were some of the top takeaways on the day?
Here is the Colts' Wednesday injury report; the team today, for a second straight day, held a walkthrough, so the injury report is only an estimation of a player's participation if there was a practice:
— Don't feel inclined to raise any red flags when you see defensive tackle DeForest Buckner estimated as a "DNP" for a second straight day; head coach Frank Reich has indicated the team is just taking an extra-cautious approach with Buckner's nagging ankle injury. Buckner also missed the first two days of practice last week, and ended up playing his usual role on defense and notching two sacks of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mike Glennon.
— Jonathan Taylor was estimated as a limited participant for a second straight day on Wednesday, but, like with Buckner, the star rookie running back isn't worried about his status for Saturday's game. "Anytime you get 30 carries in a game you're going to have nicks and bruises," said Taylor, who is listed on the injury report with a shoulder issue. Taylor, of course, is coming off one of the greatest single-game performances by a running back in NFL history; he had 30 carries for a franchise record 253 yards and two touchdowns.
— A second straight full participation status, despite being an estimation, is another positive sign for the potential return of starting strong safety Khari Willis on Saturday against the Bills. Willis suffered a concussion Week 16 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was unable to play last Sunday against the Jaguars. While he remains in the league's concussion protocol, there is reason for optimism regarding his possible status.
— Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, meanwhile, who also suffered a concussion against the Steelers and missed the Jaguars game, continued to be estimated as a non-participant on Wednesday for a second straight day, as did tackle Will Holden (ankle), who also did not play against Jacksonville. While Reich didn't speak with reporters on Wednesday, he's scheduled to address the media on Thursday, when he's expected to announce who's been ruled out of Saturday's game.
Defending Bills' passing attack
One of the biggest challenges for the Colts on Saturday will be trying to slow down the Bills' potent passing attack, which is led by third-year quarterback — and 2020 MVP candidate — Josh Allen.
Allen in 2020 broke the Bills' single-season franchise records for completions (396), passing yards (4,544) and passing touchdowns (37), and had another eight touchdowns on the ground. Among league leaders, Allen was fifth in completions, fourth in completion percentage (69.2), fifth in passing yards, fifth in passing touchdowns, fourth in first downs (228), fifth in yards-per-attempt average (7.9) and fourth in quarterback rating (107.2).
The 6-foot-5, 237-pound Wyoming product has one of the best throwing arms in the NFL, but he's also one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the league, both in and out of the pocket.
Perhaps the silver lining for the Colts' defense is the fact they've already taken on the likes of Deshaun Watson (twice), Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson this season; while each quarterback brings their own flavor to the position, it helps to have that much experience against guys who can make all the throws and use their mobility to their advantage.
"He has a cannon," Colts linebacker Darius Leonard said today when asked what stands out about Allen. "I watched (an) incomplete pass earlier today – he dropped back, he was on the 25-yard line, he launched it off his back foot 60 yards. He just has a cannon. He has some great skill guys and they know how to use that offense to make him look as good as he's been playing. Then he is very sneaky with his feet. People don't give him enough credit. He can extend plays and run around and do zone read and stuff like that."
Also a top priority for the Colts' defense on Saturday? Trying to contain the league's top receiver, Stefon Diggs, who led the NFL in 2020 in both receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535), adding eight touchdowns, and was tied for third in first-down receptions (73).
"You look at different ways that people cover him and he is a special talent, and he is one of those guys that is always open," Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said of Diggs. "You could have tight coverage on him and throw it in his direction and he catches it. You could have two guys on him and he catches it. He is a special talent. He is one of those rare guys that are in the NFL, there is a handful of those guys at that position and he is definitely one of those guys."