INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers today spoke to local reporters via video conference. What are his latest thoughts on rookie running back Jonathan Taylor taking over starting duties, getting Vikings intel from cornerback Xavier Rhodes and still feeling "aggravated" from a season-opening loss?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» Rivers believes rookie Jonathan Taylor is "prepared" to handle the starting job at running back moving forward: The Colts lost Marlon Mack, their starting running back, for the season in last Sunday's 2020 opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars after the fourth-year veteran ruptured his Achilles about midway through the second quarter.
Now the team turns to Jonathan Taylor, the talented rookie out of Wisconsin, to take over as Mack's replacement moving forward.
Taylor — who left Wisconsin as the NCAA's sixth-leading rusher of all-time — had nine carries for 22 yards and six receptions for 67 yards last Sunday in his NFL debut against the Jaguars, and Rivers is confident in the youngster's ability to come in and make a difference as the lead back.
"I think like every position, the more and more experience you have and the more and more you play, the more you improve and the more confidence you get as you move forward," Rivers said. "He's had a great training camp. We obviously know the career he had in college, and I thought he got off to a heck of a start last week. He's prepared and he has a good running back room."
That room includes third-year veterans Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins, position coach Tom Rathman and, of course, Mack himself.
"You hate to lose Marlon," Rivers said. "It's different for me having not been around these guys in previous years, but Marlon looked awesome. It's just too bad and feel for him that he's not going to be out there personally and, obviously, how it affects us. But again, we do have a solid room and a lot of talent in that room. Those guys will collectively find a way to pick up the slack and keep us on track both in the run and the pass game."
» Rivers will probably be having a few side conversations with cornerback Xavier Rhodes about his former team, the Vikings, this week: Now officially into his 17th NFL season, Rivers certainly knows how to best approach getting tidbits from teammates who used to play for the upcoming opponent.
That will likely be the case this week, as the Colts take on the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in their 2020 home opener at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy this offseason signed free agent Xavier Rhodes, who spent the previous seven seasons as an All-Pro cornerback with the Vikings, where he was a first-round pick back in 2013.
Rivers' No. 1 priority, he said, is simply making sure he prepares for Sunday's game just like any other week, but perhaps Rhodes can provide him with a little extra information heading into the contest.
The Vikings, by the way, dropped their season opener last Sunday to the Green Bay Packers, 43-34.
"I usually try to go about the week normal and then as the week goes, I'm sure we'll have a conversation or two. I'm always a little careful to do too much of that just because I think it works both ways. They know he's here too and you never know how much they've tweaked. This offseason especially, you just never know," Rivers said. "More so, maybe like you said, personnel wise – just being around guys, knowing what routes they don't like, which one's they defend better than others. Little things like that since we don't have a ton of this year's tape."
» Rivers is "still aggravated" about the Colts' opener against the Jaguars, and hopes to use that as motivation on Sunday: Usually football players and coaches stress the importance of quickly moving on from any result, good or bad, to fully focus on the next game. And it's not like Rivers and the Colts aren't doing that after falling to the Jaguars last Sunday in their 2020 opener.
But Rivers can't help but still feel a little ticked off about how that Jaguars game ended up playing out; the Colts were in complete control early on before Jacksonville seized the momentum. In the end, it was more the mistakes made by the Colts in all three phases that did them in in their 27-20 loss.
"I'm still aggravated about last week to be honest with you," Rivers said. "I have moved on but still a little bit aggravated, which hopefully a little bit of that saltiness can carry over into us playing better this week."
That being said, Rivers also stressed the importance of not riding the waves throughout the season.
"Sixteen teams are taking the field today to practice undefeated and the other 16 are 0-1. That's this league," Rivers said. "We know this league is going to be one-score games and ups and downs throughout the whole year. The only thing that happened on Sunday, the only thing that's different about our season now then was before Sunday is we can't win them all. Other than that, everything is still out there. It will all still be out there for a good while. We just again have to – I know it's boring on the outside, but it's that one-day approach. One day at a time and one play at a time and just keep our head down and work."