INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts are already down two starters — one on each side of the ball — for Thursday night’s crucial Week 12 road matchup against the Houston Texans.
Head coach Frank Reich said today that running back Marlon Mack and safety Khari Willis, both of whom were injured in Sunday’s 33-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, have each been ruled out Thursday against the Texans.
» Mack suffered a broken hand in the third quarter of Sunday’s game and didn’t return; he had surgery on Monday, Reich confirmed, and his timetable to return is not immediately known.
Mack currently ranks fifth in the league with 862 rushing yards; in all, he has 192 carries for 862 yards (4.5 yards per carry) with four touchdowns. He had 14 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown prior to exiting Sunday’s game.
With Mack out of the lineup, the Colts will turn to a mixture of Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins and Jonathan Williams on Thursday against the Texans.
While Wilkins was inactive Sunday with an ankle injury, Williams was able to pick up the slack before — and especially after — Mack’s injury; he ran the ball 13 times for a career-best 116 yards (8.9 yards per carry), as the Colts as a team ran for a season-best 264 yards on the day in all, their best single-game performance since 2004.
» Willis, according to Reich, developed concussion symptoms after Sunday’s game, and is now in the league’s concussion protocol, meaning he would not be able to gain clearance by Thursday night.
A 2019 fourth-round pick out of Michigan State, Willis in recent weeks has taken over as the Colts’ starting strong safety and has excelled; his 44 total tackles ranks seventh among all rookies. He also has two tackles for loss and one pass defensed on the year.
The Colts will rely on their depth at safety to fill in for Willis on Thursday night. All five safeties played at least 26 defensive snaps Sunday against the Jaguars, including starter Malik Hooker (51 snaps) as well as Rolan Milligan (30 snaps), Clayton Geathers (28 snaps) and George Odum (26 snaps).