TAMPA, Fla. — The Indianapolis Colts are expecting to have a couple key offensive weapons back in the fold for today's crucial Week 14 road matchup.
Speedy wide receiver Parris Campbell and top running back Marlon Mack are both active and expected to make their returns to the lineup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
Among those inactive today for the Colts: tackle/guard Le'Raven Clark, defensive tackle Trevon Coley, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, quarterback Chad Kelly, cornerback Kenny Moore II, linebacker E.J. Speed and kicker Adam Vinatieri.
Both Campbell and Mack are returning to game action after missing multiple weeks with fractured right hands.
» Campbell suffered his injury late in the Colts' Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was able to return to practice as a limited participant last week, but the team decided to delay his return one more week as the rookie out of Ohio State continued to get more comfortable catching the ball with added padding on his hand.
"He looked good last week physically running and everything. You could tell last week he was just a little tentative catching it at times earlier in the week and just never really got to the point where that felt the way it should feel," Colts head coach Frank Reich said of Campbell on Friday. "Then this week you couldn't tell anything was wrong with him and he was running the way he runs. I was really encouraged."
Campbell returns just in time to add his big-play abilities to a Colts' wide receiver corps that has been hit hard by the injury bug. Devin Funchess (clavicle) and Chester Rogers (knee) are on injured reserve for the rest of the season, while Hilton today is missing his fifth game in six weeks as he continues battling a nagging calf injury.
Campbell, who missed two games earlier in the season with an abdominal injury, was just starting to showcase his potential as an all-around threat in that Steelers game, when he had five receptions for 53 yards, three rushing attempts for 27 yards and two kickoff returns for 62 yards (31.0 avg.).
Reich said today's game is a "big opportunity" for Campbell.
"I feel like he is ready to go. He has had a really good week of practice," Reich said. "You know how we do it; I mean we are going to spread it around. He hasn't been in there much. So yeah, I mean, you have to have a little discretion on how much you do with him, but he is ready to go. I am excited for him."
» Mack returns today just three weeks after suffering a fractured hand in the third quarter of the Colts' Week 11 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. At the time of his injury, Mack was putting together a dominant performance, with 14 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown in just the first two-plus quarters.
The third-year South Florida product — who today will be playing at his home college field, Raymond James Stadium, for the first time in his NFL career — was able to return to practice this week. He was limited on Wednesday, but was already a full participant by Thursday's practice, and wasn't even listed as questionable heading into today's game.
"He has recovered quickly, yeah," Reich said of Mack. "I would say from what I was initially thinking he is probably a week ahead of where we thought he was going to be."
With Mack out the past two games, the Colts have utilized a rotation of Jordan Wilkins, Nyheim Hines and Jonathan Williams at running back. Williams, who also had a 100-yard rushing performance Week 11 against the Jaguars, had 104 rushing yards the following week against the Houston Texans, while Indy used more of a mix of all three backs in last Sunday's loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Reich said Mack — who sits just 138 yards away from his first-career 1,000-yard rushing season — will not be on a "big pitch count" today, but he expects all four running backs to be involved throughout the afternoon.
"It is a feel with those backs — I mean even when (Mack) is humming we don't hesitate to rotate those guys," Reich said. "We know Marlon is going to get the bulk of the carries.
"The way it is going to play I am anticipating all four backs will be up. So it might be a little bit more rotation than normal."