Colts Notebook: How Is Jalen Collins Performing In Practice?
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INDIANAPOLIS – Full-on December football has arrived for the Indianapolis Colts.
And that means Frank Reich is altering the schedule for his players.
Tuesday has normally been a day of mandatory work for the Colts in 2018, but Reich gave his players that day off this Tuesday, as they prepare for the final quarter of the season.
Like normal though, Tuesday was coordinator day at the Colts Complex, so here are some thoughts from Nick Sirianni and Matt Eberflus:
- Matt Eberflus has now seen Jalen Collins practice 8 times with the Colts. It sounds like Collins could see some action this season, but there’s still a definite jump needed before game days come each week for the talented, but troubled, corner. “I do see the talent there,” Eberflus said of Collins on Tuesday. “What he has to learn to do is to practice the way we practice. The way we practice is full-out. There’s walk through and then full speed. We want you to go full speed all the time. That’s practicing our way. I think he’s learning to do that. He’s not there yet. But we have a style in which we play, and each player is held to that standard. When he does that, we’ll see where he is. We are just trying to keep evaluating him. Chris (Ballard) and his staff and the coaching staff are just evaluating where he is, in terms of getting him ready to go, potentially to play at some point.”
- Eberflus said on Tuesday that he is really pleased with the jump his defense has had over the course of 12 games. That unit is playing better, even though the sack numbers aren’t as abundant as they were earlier in the season. You could debate that Deshaun Watson this coming Sunday is the ‘best’ quarterback the Colts have faced since Tom Brady two months ago.
- On Tuesday, Eberflus spoke pretty highly of second-year cornerback Quincy Wilson. Due to a variety of reasons, the Colts have asked Wilson to play a couple of different spots around the Indy defense. Wilson is currently in the team’s nickel package, playing the outside corner spot when that personnel group is used. “It’s really a tribute to him and to his function and intelligence,” Eberflus said of using Wilson inside in the dime package earlier this season, and now back outside at more of his normal spot. “He’s able to process a lot of information, take it to practice and then take it to a game. He’s a versatile guy for us. He’s been doing good in that way.”
- How to evaluate Malik Hooker from Sunday? The second-year safety was a reason why the Jaguars had just 1 play over 18 yards all day. But Hooker also didn’t record a tackle in playing all 58 snaps. That’s something you hardly ever see from an NFL defender. Certainly, the Colts’ scheme and what they ask for from Hooker, coupled with how limited the Jaguars were offensively, played into his zero-tackle afternoon. “He did a good job of being where he’s supposed to be,” Eberflus said of Hooker’s performance against the Jaguars. “If you look at that game, the balls that were thrown down the field were on the outside of the field, so that’s going to be the corner’s play if you were playing a certain coverage, which we were. Then the longest run of the day was 11 yards, by a quarterback scramble, on a third down, so there’s not a lot of opportunity for him to run the alley, make the tackle. He was where he was supposed to be with his job.”
- The Colts have received pretty solid play from the likes of Denico Autry, Jabaal Sheard and (lately) Tyquan Lewis this season. Eberflus touched on all three during his Tuesday media availability. Even Dwight Freeney acknowledged the really impressive performance from Autry this weekend. Eberflus credited Autry’s lower pad level and constant second effort to him racking up 7 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles against the Jaguars.
- Scary thought looking ahead to Sunday and the Texans? Nick Sirianni said on Tuesday that he thinks the Texans’ defensive front is actually a better pass rushing group than Jacksonville’s talented group. “I think that Houston actually rushes the passer a little bit better than Jacksonville,” Sirianni said. Back in Week Four, with the Colts having to play from behind for the vast majority of the game, the Colts allowed a season-high 4 sacks, as Luck chucked it 62 times with Denzelle Good and Le’Raven Clark starting at tackles that Sunday afternoon.
- We’ve seen Ryan Grant’s numbers really dip since his ankle injury in Week Six. In the first 5 games of the season, Grant had 24 catches for 246 yards and a catch percentage of 77.4. Since returning from his ankle issue to play in 4 games, Grant has had just 4 catches for 21 yards with a catch percentage of 57.1. Here were Sirianni’s comments on Tuesday about Grant’s recent play: “Obviously when Ryan had his injury that set him back a little bit just with his timing, with Andrew (Luck), and just being out on the field,” Sirianni said. “I actually thought Ryan played a good game (this past Sunday). He did a good job. He created some separation against some good corners. So we noticed that and definitely have it in our plans that we need to get Ryan going. He needs to be able to have the games he was having prior to getting injured. The targets aren’t there and the catches aren’t there, but sometimes again, that does go in ebbs and flows. He might be quiet for a couple weeks and in our system we do like to spread the ball around and then maybe he has 8 catches next week. Maybe he has 2 again next week and then 8 the following week. I just think with receivers sometimes that does go in ebbs and flows. So we need him to really hang in there and I get no impression that he won’t. He’s a great guy and a good football player. We know he will because I know his opportunity is going to come again very shortly.”
- Several times this season, Frank Reich has done a really nice job of sticking with the run when most coaches would abandon it. Reich did go away from it against the Jaguars, despite the margin still being just one possession. From the mid-way point of the third quarter until 4 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Colts passed the ball (or were sacked) on 14 straight plays. “We felt like the best thing we needed to do and what gave us the best chance to win was to throw the football,” Sirianni said on Tuesday. “Obviously, you always want to run the ball more. You never want to have to drop back and pass it 52 times. So we always want to run it more. Just in that scenario, the way we were running it, we had some plays on our call sheet that we felt were going to be good to hit some chunks in the pass game and that’s the way we went. Again, every game is different. We definitely stand by our decision there. That’s how we felt at the time was going to be our best opportunity to win the game. It just didn’t work.”
- The Colts will return to practice on Wednesday as they play a game that should probably be viewed as a ‘must-win’ to keep any somewhat realistic playoff hopes alive.