INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts were once down by 21 points during their loss to the New England Patriots last week on Thursday Night Football, but their spirited comeback attempt — in which they got to within a touchdown in the fourth quarter — caught the eyes of those at Pro Football Focus.
The offensive line got a good bit of attention in particular, with one member even making PFF’s Team of the Week.
Offensive Tackle No. 5 (79.0), 83 snaps (100 percent)
The rookie offensive lineman saw his most extensive action of the season, getting the start at right tackle in Denzelle Good’s absence. Although right guard appears to be the plan for Smith long-term, he saw plenty of action at right tackle during training camp and the preseason, which helped prepare him for last Thursday.
The Colts’ offensive line did a great job of keeping Luck upright, as he was sacked just once and it was on their first drive of the game. Smith was credited with allowing just two hurries/pressures in 62 pass blocks.
"Yeah, Braden played well, I mean Braden played well," Colts head coach Frank Reich said this week about Smith's performance. "Tough situation getting thrown out there at the last minute. He did a really nice job, I think exceeded expectations at that spot."
It was an impressive performance for a rookie who has primarily been used as an extra blocker to this point.
Offensive Guard No. 5 (75.8), 83 snaps (100 percent)
Slauson is becoming a consistent presence among PFF’s weekly guard rankings, coming in at No. 9 in Week 4 and now No. 5 this week. He helped hold the right side of the line down with Smith against the Patriots on Thursday, also getting dinged for just two hurries/pressures. Slauson also had one false start penalty.
Tight End No. 6 (74.7), 59 snaps (71 percent)
It always hurts to lose a player like Jack Doyle, whom the Colts have been without for the last three games, but luckily for the Colts they can rely on Ebron.
He had a career game Thursday, posting new personal single-game highs in targets (15), yards (105) and touchdowns (two). He did have one drop, but the good heavily outweighed the bad.
Ebron’s been a consistent presence for Luck whether Doyle is around or not. Ebron has his role, but still succeeds when it needs to expand. He was very important for Luck on Thursday, as Luck had a 126.5 passer rating when throwing to Ebron.
Offensive Guard No. 7 (73.7), 83 snaps (100 percent)
Although the Colts lost, this was a game that showed there were some solid moves made by the front office this offseason.
This week, Nelson is the fourth Colts 2018 newcomer to be among the top 10 at his position, and the third offensive lineman. It looks even better when you consider the Colts selected Nelson in the first round of the 2018 Draft, followed by Smith in the second round. With Slauson added as some dependable veteran insurance, the three acquisitions are paying off thus far.
Nelson made PFF’s Week 5 NFL Team of the Week as the left guard. Here’s what they had to say about the rookie:
“A strange week sees most of our top performances at the guard position come on the right side, but the sixth overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft makes his first appearance on the PFF Team of the Week with a solid showing on Thursday Night Football. He produced the best PFF overall grade of his career in the loss to the Patriots, allowing a hit and two hurries from 62 pass-blocking snaps.”