INDIANAPOLIS – While the Texans got their best defender (Jadeveon Clowney) back to practice on Thursday, the health for the defensive unit in Indy still has some questions.
The Colts practiced again on Thursday. After a lighter day on Wednesday, the Colts have returned to a more normal schedule the rest of the week.
Here is the Thursday notebook with some insight from the coordinators and Antonio Morrison---the man who will be replacing D'Qwell Jackson going forward.
- S-Clayton Geathers (neck): Geathers has yet to practice this week. It's a week-to-week update for the team's starting safety, alongside Mike Adams. That timetable means it's unlikely the Colts will have the physical Geathers for a team in Houston that wants to run the football.
- OG-Denzelle Good (concussion): Good has not practiced this week. The team's starting right guard left Monday's game with a concussion and remains in the protocol.
- DT-Zach Kerr (concussion): Kerr has not practiced this week. The Colts had two players not feel well following Monday's game. Kerr was one of them. The reserve defensive lineman is in the concussion protocol.
- OLB-Curt Maggitt (concussion): The Colts did get Maggitt back to practice on Thursday, in a red non-contact jersey. Maggitt is progressing through the concussion protocol.
- OLB-Robert Mathis (bicep): We have yet to see Mathis at practice this week. Chuck Pagano is listing Mathis at "day-to-day." Mathis did say on Tuesday that he was planning on practicing this week.
- CB-Patrick Robinson (groin): Robinson worked in a limited role on Thursday, a positive step for the first time in more than a week.
Antonio Morrison on the opportunity coming his way in replacing D'Qwell Jackson:
"I had good knowledge of the playbook all along.
"It is just different translating it to the field and just seeing all the different things offenses can do and stuff. Sitting behind DQ (D'Qwell Jackson) really helped me."
Bowen's Analysis: Antonio Morrison is in the same mold as D'Qwell Jackson. Morrison is best at stopping the run, playing the MIKE linebacker spot (where as Edwin Jackson is the WILL linebacker, on the weakside). That has contributed as to why Morrison hasn't played as much recently. Defensive coordinator Ted Monachino says Morrison is moving better than he was earlier this season. Morrison playing mostly on running downs is the likely plan for him this week.
From a personnel standpoint, the Colts are going to be flexible defensively. Ideally, the Colts would probably like to play more nickel/dime, relieving some of the stress on Morrison/Jackson. Flip that to Houston's thought process, and the Texans would probably want to play more two tight end looks in an effort to keep the Colts in the their base defense, with Jackson and Morrison on the field. Monachino had a great line in describing the 'tough' Morrison: "If you can't have confidence in a tough guy, you can't have confidence in anybody."Rob Chudzinski on the fast starts as of late:
"We have executed well the past few games at the beginning of the games and have been able to get some points on the board."
Bowen's Analysis: The Colts have won the last three games Andrew Luck has started. In each of those games, they've scored at least 14 points in the opening quarter. That's an obvious recipe for success, especially this week when you're playing a Houston team that ranks 29th in points per game this season.
As the familiarity into Rob Chudzinski's system grows, this offense is doing its part in the playoff push. With a very healthy unit (especially the returns of Donte Moncrief and Dwayne Allen), the Colts have been much more potent on that side of the ball lately. Some extra practice time with the team's bye week and mini-bye coming in the last month has helped, too.Ted Monachino on what Sunday means:
"This game means an awful lot to our players, to our city and to our club.
"They are really excited to go back in there and redeem themselves."
Bowen's Analysis: Monachino admitted on Thursday that the Week Six loss to the Texans did take a while for him to get over. How his unit finished that game is a motivation coming into this week.
Also on Thursday, Monachino touched on the play the Colts got out of Trent Cole against the Jets. The Colts needed a bigger body to help set the edge in the run game. Cole gave them that on Monday, along with some disruptive plays in the pass game. With Robert Mathis still out this week and Curt Maggitt working through the concussion protocol, more Cole will be needed again this week.**
Here is Thursday's injury report:
-DNP: S-Clayton Geathers (neck), OG-Denzelle Good (concussion), DT-Zach Kerr (concussion), OLB-Robert Mathis (bicep)
-LIMITED: QB-Andrew Luck (right shoulder), OLB-Curt Maggitt (concussion), CB-Patrick Robinson (groin)
-FULL: RB-Frank Gore (rest)