The Colts' last hosted a primetime game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 14, 2017. Only seven players who participated in that game are still with the team: Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, cornerback Kenny Moore II, tight end Jack Doyle, punter Rigoberto Sanchez, long snapper Luke Rhodes, running back Marlon Mack and defensive tackle Grover Stewart.
Moore, by the way, was still wearing No. 42 on that night against the Denver Broncos. That's how long it's been since Indianapolis was in the national NFL spotlight.
"That's crazy to think about," Sanchez said.
To celebrate the return of primetime football to Indianapolis, the Colts are holding special "Blue Out" events all week leading up to Thursday night's kickoff against the New York Jets (the Colts will wear all blue uniforms for the game, too). And while players are trained to focus on Thursday night as just another game, there is – and will be – a little added juice given that home primetime drought.
"Just to be able to have that primetime in Lucas Oil, it's a special thing," Sanchez said. "So we're all excited about it."
Linebacker Darius Leonard said it's "weird" the Colts haven't hosted a primetime game in so long, especially since their last eight night games have come on the road.
"Hopefully (we can) earn some respect somewhere along the line and hopefully get some more home games," Leonard said.
Running back Jonathan Taylor and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. told a mantra to each other before Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football against the Ravens and 49ers this season – "primetime players make primetime plays." And those two players have shined in primetime this season:
- Taylor: 33 carries, 160 yards (4.8 yards/carry), 2 rushing TDs; 6 receptions, 119 yards, 1 receiving TD
- Pittman: 10 catches, 194 yards, 2 TDs
"I'm excited," Taylor said. "I love playing at home, Lucas Oil Stadium is rocking. So being able to have a primetime game at home, that's going to be exciting. Real, real exciting."
A new backup QB
Head coach Frank Reich confirmed Tuesday rookie Sam Ehlinger is now the Colts' backup quarterback. The Colts released Brett Hundley and later signed him back to the practice squad on Monday, keeping the veteran in Indianapolis. But Reich said Ehlinger has continued to improve since he was activated from injured reserve in October.
"I felt like Sam is healthy, continued to learn the offense and there are other considerations as well," Reich said. "But we feel like it's the right move right now, but certainly feel great about both guys. Happy to get Brett back in the building as well."
Reich said the Colts value Ehlinger's poise, leadership, athleticism and experience – even if that experience came at the college level with Texas.
"We're halfway through the year so you know the offense a little bit better, so on and so forth," Reich said. "It feels like the right move at the time, but it's still always a week-to-week consideration."
- The Colts did not make a trade before Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline.
- The Colts will not rush Dayo Odeyingbo into a larger role with Tyquan Lewis on injured reserve. "I don't think we'll take him from 40 miles an hour to 80 miles an hour," Reich said. "I think we'll kind of slowly bump it up, play himself into shape and technique and fundamentals and system wise. But I feel like he's ready for that."
- Reich said things are trending toward safety Khari Willis (calf) being out for Thursday's game. The Colts will put out a final practice report with game designations on Wednesday. Reich announced Monday Hilton (concussion) will not play this week against the Jets.
Tuesday's practice report
Thursday Night Football is back!
Don't miss your chance to be a part of Thursday Night Football live at Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since 2017! Limited tickets are still available for this pivotal Colts vs. Jets showdown.
Plus, be sure to wear blue all week and take advantage of our Blue Out festivities as the national spotlight shines on Indy.