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Practice Notebook: First Trip Back To Jacksonville Just 'Another Game' For Yannick Ngakoue

Ngakoue hasn't played in Jacksonville since he was traded from the Jaguars to Minnesota Vikings in 2020, but isn't viewing Sunday's game at TIAA Bank Stadium any differently. 

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Colts defensive end Yannick Ngakoue on Sunday will return to TIAA Bank Stadium in Jacksonville for the first time since the Jaguars traded him to the Minnesota Vikings just before the start of the 2020 season.

  • Does playing the Jaguars – who selected Ngakoue in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft – provide any extra motivation for the 27-year-old defensive end? Not really: "This is another game for me," Ngakoue said. "It's a special game since it's the first time I've been back since my trade." 
  • Ngakoue appeared in 63 games (62 starts) over four seasons with the Jaguars, totaling 37 1/2 sacks, 14 forced fumbles and 58 tackles for a loss while earning a spot in the 2017 Pro Bowl. Ngakoue in 2017 set career highs in forced fumbles (six) and sacks (12).
  • While Sunday will be the first time Ngakoue has played in Jacksonville since the trade, he did face the Jaguars in 2020 after he was dealt from the Vikings to the Baltimore Ravens. Ngakoue had two sacks and a forced fumble in the Ravens' 40-14 win in Baltimore.

Speaking of treating Week 2 like it's another game: Ngakoue, linebacker Shaquille Leonard and safety Julian Blackmon all emphasized they're not focusing on the Colts' seven-game away losing streak to the Jaguars.

  • That losing streak, of course, is punctuated by last season's 26-11 Week 18 road loss to the Jaguars that knocked the Colts out of the playoffs.
  • "Just put that to the side because certain guys weren't here for that whole little ordeal as far as knowing the history behind that," Ngakoue, who was on the winning side of Colts-Jaguars games in Jacksonville four times, said. "So I would say, just treat it like it's the next one and it's super critical because it's a conference game." 
  • "It's just another game," Leonard said. "All you hear about is Jacksonville last year, last year. It's like talking about your ex-girlfriend when you're with somebody new. You gotta learn from your ex, make your life better and continue to get better from there." 
  • "The approach right now for us really isn't, okay, we've lost seven straight with these guys," Blackmon said. "It's, this is the next team and they're in the way, they're a division opponent, we need to come out here and give it everything we got." 

Thursday's practice report:

  • Leonard said on Thursday he feels better than he did last week, when the Colts ruled him out of their season opener two days before kickoff.
  • Leonard said of his approach: "Continue to practice and make the right decision when the time has come and leave it up to the coaches, training staff and myself whenever I feel like I can go."

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