INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts today had their second of three days of on-field preparations for Sunday's 2020 season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. What were some of the top takeaways on the day? Here's today's Colts Notebook.
Here is today's injury report:
All-Pro sits out
Colts All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson missed practice today with a back injury. Head coach Frank Reich does not typically speak with reporters on Thursdays; he'll next address the media on Friday, when he'll list who's been ruled questionable, doubtful or out for Sunday's 2020 opener against the Jaguars.
Nelson is yet to miss a game in his first two NFL seasons.
Nelson is one of three Colts starting offensive linemen on this week's injury report; he's joined by left tackle Anthony Castonzo (oblique) and center Ryan Kelly (knee), both of whom were listed as limited participants on Thursday for a second straight day.
In other injury-related news on Thursday, rookie wide receiver Dezmon Patmon, who was limited with a knee injury on Wednesday, was listed as a full participant today.
Also new to the injury report Thursday was defensive end Justin Houston, who was limited with a calf injury.
T.Y. Hilton hasn't been able to sleep very well the last couple nights.
Oh — there's nothing wrong with The Ghost. He's just really excited to get the 2020 season started on Sunday.
The four-time Pro Bowler, who is entering his ninth season, says he's finally feeling fully healthy after battling various injuries the last couple years — including last season, when he would play in a career-low 10 games.
A healthy Hilton is expected to make a huge difference for the Colts' offense, and he knows it.
"I feel great. I'm ready to go. I've been excited this whole week," Hilton told reporters today. "I wasn't able to sleep yesterday, wasn't able to sleep much today. I'm just excited man – just happy to get back out there with my teammates, have fun. (This is) the healthiest I've been this whole offseason. That is the only thing I've been worrying about, just being healthy because a healthy 13 is a different 13. Banged up or not, they can't stop me. Me healthy – still can't stop me. It's going to be fun. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Hilton isn't much in the business of making guarantees, but he's just got a good feeling about this Colts team this season.
"I think this team right here – you're going to see a different team and it's going to show on Sunday," Hilton said. " I can't wait. I can't wait — can't wait. Tune in. It's gonna be fun."
Learning from Rivers
Hilton and the Colts' offensive players aren't the only ones benefitting from having a future Hall of Fame quarterback around over the past several weeks.
Philip Rivers also hasn't been shy about giving the Colts' defensive players little tidbits here and there, just to provide a look at their play from a quarterback's perspective.
Take Darius Leonard, for example. An All-Pro selection in each of his first two NFL seasons, Leonard is always looking for an advantage on the field, and with Rivers, he can start to process the looks and the tendencies he's showing through a former opponent's eyes.
The Colts opened up their season last year playing Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers, and the veteran QB has had plenty of pointers for Leonard to use starting in Sunday's season opener against the Jaguars.
"It's more so just being in coverage — what are guys looking for? How, with me playing where I play, and he's scouting (me), he played against me last year, seeing some things that I could've gotten better at," Leonard said. "So just picking his brain just from a rushing standpoint and what he sees in my alignment, stuff like that, and just try to go from there.
"He's a very experienced quarterback," He knows a lot. I've learned so much from him this offseason, so definitely looking forward to the see to put what he told me on display."
Rivers' experience and assistance is also helpful on the practice field. Second-year linebacker Bobby Okereke said the Colts' new quarterback has "incredible experience, incredible gamesmanship."
"You get up there and he lines up across the ball and he's scanning everything," Okereke said. "If somebody looks out of place, he'll pause on it. You see it – his processing is just on a different level than other guys I've played with. He's definitely improved my game, made me be on my P's and Q's more and it's been fun competing in camp."
'It means a lot'
Leonard this week was voted a team captain by his teammates for the second straight year.
While Leonard is one of the more aware players on the Colts' roster when it comes to how he's perceived outside of the building — he's said he's always looking for any sort of slight, big or small, to keep him motivated — he said being recognized by his own teammates is better than any outside recognition he can receive.
"It means a lot," Leonard said. "It definitely tops all the awards that I've ever had because other awards are outside people looking in. Now, it means a lot that your peers – the people you come to work with day in and day out – they are seeing exactly what you're doing. They are looking up to you. They see you as a leader. So, it means the most."
Leonard said any number of teammates could've been voted captain this year, so to be one of two defensive captains — alongside defensive end Justin Houston — it's certainly an honor.
"I'm very honored to be this team captain because we have a team that I feel like anybody could've been a team captain of this team because we have so many leaders," he said. "Just to be voted this year as a team captain definitely means a lot to me."