Colts Notebook: Mike Mitchell Goes On Injured Reserve
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INDIANAPOLIS – One of the Colts most successful roster acquisitions this season will not play again this year.
Mike Mitchell (calf) was placed on injured reserve Wednesday morning, after re-injuring a lingering calf injury in last Saturday’s win over the Texans.
While Mitchell’s role has been relegated to around 15-20 snaps per game late in the season, his loss is notable this time of year.
For one, the safety position for the Colts has dealt with a slew of injuries all year long. This week, Malik Hooker is wearing a boot on his left foot after he played through that injury to log 66 of 71 snaps against the Texans. Hooker didn't practice on Wednesday. Clayton Geathers has missed ample practice time and even a few games as well. Geathers was practicing on Wednesday.
Second, the Colts’ depth in the secondary will inevitably be tested on Saturday. While the Colts have a set-in stone nickel package with Quincy Wilson as the 5th defensive back, the dime look with six defensive backs will likely be needed for the air assault from the Chiefs.
Against Houston, the Colts played nickel on 90 percent of their snaps.
A possible replacement for the role Mitchell was in is veteran J.J. Wilcox, who the Colts signed in late December. Wilcox missed last week’s game due to an ankle injury, but practiced on Wednesday. Undrafted free agent George Odum is another option for the sub packages.
Normally, a player serving the role that Mitchell was at this point of the season isn’t a notable storyline. But this one weighs a bit more considering the opponent waiting on Saturday and how effective Mitchell was in his time on the field.
Mitchell, 31, was a key in-season signing by Chris Ballard this year.
In just his second game with the Colts, Mitchell was starting and actually won AFC Defensive Player of the Week back in Week 7.
The nagging calf injury kept Mitchell to just 8 games (4 starts) played, as he was sidelined for 3 weeks. Mitchell is a free agent in 2019.
To replace Mitchell on the 53-man roster, the Colts promoted safety Rolan Milligan to the 53-man roster.
The Colts will have their first practice of the week on Wednesday afternoon.
Here is a notebook look at the Colts’ first practice of the week:
- With a temperature of 23 degrees on Wednesday, the Colts were outside for practice. Early forecast looking ahead to Saturday in Kansas City has some snow showers possible, especially in the morning, with temps hovering in the mid-30s. Not a lot of wind is expected though. Again, the worse the weather on Saturday, the better for the Colts.
- Tyquan Lewis (left knee) was not practicing on Wednesday. It looks like Lewis will miss a second straight game. The injury came on a friendly fire play late in the first half against the Titans. Lewis ran into Denico Autry on a stunt play that sidelined Lewis for the win over the Texans.
- No Malik Hooker (foot) at Wednesday’s practice, after he was wearing a boot on his injured left foot during Tuesday’s media availability. This is a big injury to watch at Thursday’s final practice of the week. Hooker injured his foot late in the first half against the Texans, but only missed 5 snaps in the entire game. It goes without saying how key a healthy Hooker is for this weekend, with the Chiefs leading the NFL in passing plays of at least 25 yards. Hooker has missed various practice time this year and still played in the game that weekend.
- Some very good news, if you are a Colts fan, on the Matt Eberflus/head coaching front came on Wednesday. The Cleveland Browns are hiring Freddie Kitchens as their new head coach. Eberflus had interviewed for the Cleveland opening on Sunday. Now, three NFL head coach openings still remain: Jets, Bengals and Dolphins. But Eberflus’ name hasn’t been thrown around for those jobs. And the same can be said for Nick Sirianni. It looks like the Colts could have both of their coordinators back for another season under Frank Reich.
- Caught up with Marlon Mack on Wednesday and he said this is probably the healthiest he’s been in his (small) NFL career. The hamstring is healed and there’s no shoulder issue from last year still lingering. Mack looked healthy last Saturday in setting a Colts’ franchise playoff record with 148 rushing yards.
- Ryan Kelly’s return to the lineup last week carried on the run of tremendous success for the Colts with their starting offensive line intact. During the 6 games this season that the Colts have had their healthy O-line (which will happen again Saturday) together, they have averaged 33.5 points per game, rushed for 159 yards per game (5.1 yards per carry) and haven’t allowed a sack.
- What a wild last week for Eric Ebron. The Ebron family welcomed their second child, Aiden Blaise Ebron, into the world on Thursday. And, in a bit of good fortune, Eric Ebron was present for the birh. The Ebron’s call Houston home during the offseason. So Ebron’s wife, Gabriella, was down in Houston to deliver their new son. And Eric was able to fly down, separate from the team, for the birth on Thursday. Of course, Ebron then stayed in the Houston area and had an opening drive touchdown against the Texans on Saturday before eventually having to return to Indy earlier in the week for his job. “Lots of mixed emotions,” Ebron said on Wednesday of last week’s events. “Happiness, sadness, overall excitement.” The sadness, of course, is having to leave his family for work duties.
- Those work duties for Ebron on Saturday could include playing some less than ideal weather. As a former member of the NFC North, Ebron is ready for the cold: “The worst is the TV timeouts,” Ebron said on Wednesday. “Once that’s over with, you’ll warm back up. Other than that, it should be fun. I love snow games. It’s always fun. I feel like it brings out the little kid in you, the reason why you play football.”
- Remember the epic Colts’ playoff comeback against the Chiefs from back in January 2014? Well, the Colts have 4 players still left from that game: Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Anthony Castonzo and Adam Vinatieri. The Chiefs have 8 guys left on their 53-man roster. Hilton was talking about that game on Wednesday, including his 64-yard game-winning touchdown. In the huddle before that play, Andrew Luck’s message to Hilton? “Andrew just told me to run,” Hilton recalled on Wednesday. Hilton did just that in finishing off the second biggest comeback in NFL history.
- Speaking of Hilton, he looked healthier on Saturday against the Texans, compared to the regular season finale against the Titans the week prior. “It’s getting better,” is how Hilton described his ankle on Wednesday. That’s a better assessment than a few weeks back when Hilton admitted that his ankle had flared up.
- I’m a firm believer past playoff history has virtually nothing to do with this Saturday’s result, but it is still hard to believe how bad the Chiefs have been in the postseason. They’ve lost 11 of their last 12 playoff games. The only win was over Brian Hoyer and the Texans back in 2015.
- It is true that the Chiefs present a challenge unlike anything the Colts have encountered this season. But the Chiefs have also struggled against playoff teams this year. They are 2-4 against playoff teams (wins over the Chargers and Ravens; losses to the Chargers, Patriots, Rams, Seahawks). Now, those four losses were by 3 points, 3 points, 1 point and 7 points.
- Tony Dungy was present at Colts practice on Wednesday, doing some NBC coverage with Saturday’s game airing on NBC. Remember, it was Dungy who first hired Frank Reich, as a coaching intern back in 2006. Dungy joined JMV on Wednesday afternoon. On the show, Dungy said he voted for Frank Reich for Coach of the Year.
- Chiefs safety Eric Berry (heel) missed Wednesday's practice, after participating on Tuesday. Both Sammy Watkins (foot) and RB-Spencer Ware (hamstring) continued to practice. Berry looks to be the biggest concern for the Chiefs this weekend.
WEDNESDAY’S INJURY REPORT
DNP: DL-Denico Autry (shoulder), WR-Ryan Grant (toe), WR-T.Y. Hilton (ankle), S-Malik Hooker (foot), DL-Tyquan Lewis (knee)
-Bowen’s Analysis: Autry is a name to watch on Thursday, with the Colts already likely to be without Lewis again this week.
LIMITED: TE-Eric Ebron (hip), WR-Dontrelle Inman (shoulder/finger), DE-Jabaal Sheard (knee)
-Bowen’s Analysis: All three of these guys were DNPs on the ‘walk-through’ list from Tuesday.
FULL: S-Clayton Geathers (knee), LB-Darius Leonard (shoulder/ankle), S-J.J. Wilcox (ankle)
-Bowen’s Analysis: Wilcox could be very key this week with the injuries at safety. Geathers also practiced last Wednesday, before playing every snap against the Texans.