INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich spoke to local reporters today via video conference. What's the latest on Julian Blackmon, Marcus Johnson, Kenny Moore II and Zach Pascal's return to practice on Monday, injury updates on Trey Burton and Sheldon Day and more?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» Four Colts players, including safety Julian Blackmon, are returning to practice today: With training camp officially over and the Colts' 2020 season opener now just 13 days away, the team will be utilizing this week to make final evaluations at every position to cut down to its 53-man roster by 4 p.m. ET Saturday.
The good news for the Colts is they'll be about as close to full health as they can get heading into the start of the regular season.
Reich said cornerback Kenny Moore II, who has missed the last couple weeks with a groin injury, as well as wide receiver Zach Pascal, who missed the last two camp practices with a hamstring injury, are expected to return to the practice field today.
Two other players are expected to make their 2020 on-field debuts on Monday for the Colts: safety Julian Blackmon and wide receiver Marcus Johnson.
• Blackmon underwent surgery back in December after suffering a knee injury during his final game at Utah. The Colts selected him in the third round of this year's NFL Draft knowing he still had a ways to go in his recovery and rehab process, but general manager Chris Ballard had said the hope was he'd be able to be back to full health by October.
Reich said Blackmon, who was placed on the Active/Non-Football Injury list at the beginning of camp, deserves credit for being so diligent in his recovery and rehab work.
"Very impressive," Reich said. "I mean nine months or a little bit under that (since surgery). It just goes to speak to his mindset, the kind of person that he is, how he attacked his rehab – even during a difficult time, right? Through the pandemic, in difficult circumstances, he has handled himself like a pro. You can feel the maturity from him. You can feel the competitive fire, how badly he wants to be out there. He's obviously ahead of schedule. We'll still be smart with him, have him on a play count and gradually work him back."
• Johnson, meanwhile, did not practice throughout training camp as he dealt with an undisclosed injury, though he was seen working with trainers out on the practice field in recent days.
The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Johnson emerged as one of the Colts' top targets over the second half of last season, as he logged career-bests in receptions (17), receiving yards (277) and receiving touchdowns (two).
Johnson's return today puts him in the mix to compete for the final one or two spots at wide receiver — behind T.Y. Hilton, Pascal, Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr. — heading into the 2020 season.
» Injury updates on Trey Burton, Sheldon Day: Reich also had injury updates on two other players — one on each side of the ball.
• The team is "still working through" a potential timetable for tight end Trey Burton's return. The veteran suffered a calf injury during Saturday's scrimmage at Lucas Oil Stadium and did not return.
Reich said calf injuries typically "can range in a number of weeks," and the team is "still kind of waiting on it to settle down for a day or two to really get a better gauge to how long it may be."
"I can tell you those types of things are generally more than two weeks if you get it and get it good, but we will just have to see how it settles down here over the next couple of days," Reich said.
• Another 2020 free agent signee, Sheldon Day, is "still making progress" and "getting closer" to a potential return, Reich said.
The defensive tackle injured his knee in a drill early in training camp, Reich confirmed.
"Just kind of a freak thing to be honest with you," Reich said of Day's injury. "It was really kind of a freak thing. Didn't look like it was much, but you could just tell he got hit the wrong way."
For now, Day is "attacking the rehab," but there's no immediate timetable for his return.
Since Day was not placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list at the start of training camp, the Colts could possibly elect to keep him on their initial 53-man roster and then immediately place him on injured reserve; that affords the team the chance to try to return Day to practice, and possibly even game action, later in the season.