INDIANAPOLIS — When the Jacksonville Jaguars went out and signed free agent Nick Foles to a reported four-year, $88 million deal this offseason, it showed a willingness by the team to spend money to add a franchise quarterback to a roster previously heavy in defensive talent, but lacking on the offensive side of the ball.
But after a promising offseason of work, Foles would go down with a broken left collarbone just 10 plays into the Jaguars' 2019 regular season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Rookie Gardner Minshew II certainly performed admirably while Foles worked his way back from surgery, but on Sunday, Jacksonville will be getting its top QB back into the fold when the team travels to Indianapolis for its Week 11 AFC South Division showdown against the Indianapolis Colts.
If you're the Colts' defense, seeing Foles return from injured reserve can certainly present some unique challenges this late into the season, as you're taking on a quality quarterback in a new system with just 10 snaps to his credit on the year.
The Colts do have one key resource to lean on heading into this matchup, however: head coach Frank Reich.
Reich, of course, was the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator in 2017 when he worked hand-in-hand with Foles down the stretch and through the postseason; that partnership was instrumental in the Eagles' 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
Needless to say, Reich has had a few extra conversations this week with defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.
"Yeah, I sat down and spoke with 'Flus generally speaking about Nick's abilities, mindset and that kind of thing – not a whole lot to be honest with you," Reich said. "I told him what I thought about a few things, in detail about a few things."
With limited tape available on Foles in the Jaguars' system, Eberflus and his staff have combed through the archives of the quarterback's play going back to when he was a third-round pick by the Eagles in the 2012 NFL Draft.
"'Flus is tireless and his staff is tireless," Reich said. "He's only got limited snaps this year so they have supplemented a lot of that by going back and looking at last year and other tape as well."
The players on the field are anticipating a simple offensive approach on Sunday from the Jaguars (4-5), who desperately need a win to stay relevant in the AFC South race.
Justin Houston, who has a sack in five straight games and 7.0 sacks overall to lead the Colts, knows it'll be tough getting in Foles' grill Sunday afternoon.
"He's fresh off an injury, so I think they wanna get his feet wet; they're not just gonna let him open the whole playbook up," Houston said today. "So I feel they're just gonna make sure he's comfortable in the pocket and make sure he's able to do what he wants to do."
The Colts had a bit of good news on Wednesday, when No. 2 receiver Devin Funchess, who was placed on IR after suffering a clavicle injury Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers, was able to make his return to the practice field.
But Reich explained Funchess still has some boxes to check until he gains official clearance to get back to game action, and on Thursday, the receiver added some more context to his situation.
"My bone's still gotta heal," Funchess said when asked if he could play Sunday against the Jaguars. "So I'm not gonna go out there and try to re-break it, because we've got a nice little stretch coming up."
Funchess has worn a red no-contact jersey in his first two practices this week; the team still has 20 days left until it needs to decide whether to move the receiver back to the active roster or revert him to IR for the rest of the season.
Regardless, Funchess said he was ecstatic to get back on the field with his teammates this week.
"It felt good," he said. "I got to see the speed of the game again, got to go against DBs. And just overall it was blissful — just happy to be back, and enjoying my time back."
Here's the full injury report from Thursday's practice:
» DNP: TE Mo Alie-Cox (hip); WR Parris Campbell (hand); CB Pierre Desir (hamstring); WR Ashton Dulin (neck); WR T.Y. Hilton (calf); S Malik Hooker (knee); DE Jabaal Sheard (not injury related; rest); RB Jordan Wilkins (ankle)
» Limited: TE Jack Doyle (shoulder)
» Full: QB Jacoby Brissett (knee); S Clayton Geathers (not injury related; rest); LB Darius Leonard (abdomen)
— Dulin (neck) and Hooker (knee) were both new additions to the injury report on Thursday.