CINCINNATI — The Indianapolis Colts players will get a couple days off before Week 1 of the 2016 regular season officially gets under way, but first, some work needs to be done.
The Colts are driving back from Cincinnati, the site of Thursday night's preseason finale against the Bengals, early Friday morning, and will reconvene at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis later in the A.M. to officially kick off preparations for the Detroit Lions.
"We'll bring them in there and (get a) good treatment, good recovery period," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said of the team plan for Friday. "We'll get the guys in there, we'll watch some tape, we'll do a lot of Detroit stuff, we'll introduce some personnel stuff from Detroit, we'll talk about offense and defense and special teams, what they like to do, their personnel — some early thoughts."
Then, the Colts will hit the practice field for a walkthrough, although they will not have an actual practice. The idea is to get the players' minds around Detroit's tendencies first before beginning actual practices next week.
After the walkthrough, the team will run, lift and recover — especially those guys who did not play in Thursday night's preseason victory against the Bengals — before having the rest of the weekend off.
The coaches and front office personnel, meanwhile, have a busy next few days ahead of them. Not only are they required to cut down the roster from 75 players to the final 53-man active roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday, but once cuts are announced by each team, the Colts will be scouring the wire to see if there are any good outside fits to add to their team.
Another huge factor for the Colts is the health of many key players. Because the Week 1 status of some of those players won't be known until closer to the actual Sept. 11 game date, Pagano says he has no idea at this time how a good chunk of his final 53-man roster will look.
"Obviously when they are healthy, I know what they are going to look like," Pagano said. "I know how they are going to play. I know their DNA, whether they are injured or not. You know that we are going to play for 60 minutes. We've got a tough football team. We got to get some guys back, and back on the offensive line, specifically the corner positions. These 48 hours are going to be critical from a health standpoint, and making some tough calls."
At the cornerback position specifically, Indianapolis saw yet another player, Tevin Mitchel, go down with an injury Thursday against the Bengals, as the Arkansas product injured his hamstring in the first half and didn't return.
With most of the team's top cornerbacks dealing with injuries with varying severity, Pagano said some tough decisions are going to have to be made sooner than later.
"Our No. 1 corner, with Vontae (Davis) out, and Pat (Robinson) is our No. 2, and he's been out. Jalil (Brown) has been out. You can go on down the line, especially with Tevin out. And with the chance to evaluate him, he tweaks his hamstring again," Pagano said. "There's nothing that we can do about it. We have to get healthy, and healthy in a hurry. Because the 11th is going to be here before we know it. It makes it difficult to get to that 53. We got some guys that we are hopeful that we get back."