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Can Jonathan Taylor Pick Up the Running Back Slack for the Colts?

Next man up.

That’s got to be the feeling in the Colts front offices these days after Sunday’s season-ending injury to running back Marlon Mack in the team’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Colts drafting of running back Jonathan Taylor now looms to maybe be the biggest pickup for the team for the offseason, and no matter how many times you play at best online casinos, no one could have made that prediction even a few weeks ago.

But that is the reality of the situation, as Mack’s torn Achilles is going to keep him sidelined for the rest of 2020, and it’s now up to Taylor and the Colts offensive line to give him a chance to take advantage of it.

“Marlon is beloved in our locker room,” Colts coach Frank Reich said.

“[The team has] such an immense amount of respect and love for this guy. He’s a true Colt. He was looking so good in training camp and even in his few snaps [against the Jaguars]. Very unfortunate and very bad timing for him and his family.”

The first test for Taylor and the Colts run game will not be an easy one, as they go up against a stout Minnesota Vikings defense on Sunday at home in their home opener at Lucas Oil Stadium.

It wouldn’t be a shock to see Taylor go through a bit of a trial by fire, but the running back seems poised and ready for his big chance in the starting spotlight.

“Jonathan is ready,” Reich said Monday.

“He’ll step up and do a great job. … I think it’s a mindset that Jonathan has to come in and just take ownership of the position. We’re still going to rotate guys through, but Jonathan still has to be lead dog and have that mindset and confidence, and I know he’ll do that.”

The Colts run game against the Jaguars in their Sunday loss in Jacksonville saw them rush for less than 100 yards, putting up 88 yards total on 22 carries, nowhere near enough to be long term effective.

If the team is going to be competitive and make an impact in the AFC South, a lot of the momentum is going to have to fall on Taylor, who knows that quickly he won’t have to look over his shoulder at Mack, who is done for the season.

“I think coach Reich has done a great job, not only through training camp, but this started before training camp, making sure that I was up to speed as much as possible,” Taylor said.

“Not being able to have OTAs and not being able to have rookie minicamp, we had to try to do as many meetings as we could and also add on top of that throughout training camp to try to get me up to speed with those vets.”

Let’s see if Taylor’s words ring true on Sunday.

Wednesday’s Injury Report for the Colts Opener vs the Jaguars

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
 
Practice Report
  LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday LB Matthew Adams (ankle), S Julian Blackmon (knee), T Anthony Castonzo (oblique), C Ryan Kelly (knee), WR Dezmon Patmon (knee)
 
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
 
Practice Report
  DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE
  Wednesday TE Tyler Davis (knee), TE Tyler Eifert (not injury related), RB Devine Ozigbo (hamstring)

Colts Signing Center Ryan Kelly to a Four-year Extension

The Colts are opening up their pocketbooks, as reports say the team is inking center Ryan Kelly to a four-year extension.

The deal according to Adam Schefter of ESPN is worth $50 million dollars, making him the highest paid center in the league.

The extension includes a whopping $34 million guaranteed.

Colts Center Ryan Kelly Offers Emotional Insight on Societal Unrest

This would have been the last season of Kelly’s rookie contract, but now with a five-year deal he’ll be linked with the Colts through the 2024 season.

“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be,” Kelly said via the Indy Star. “It’s been a long process to get here, and to be honest, it’s kind of an emotional whirlwind.”

Longtime Colts O-Line Coach Howard Mudd Passes Away at 78

Howard Mudd, a former All-Pro lineman who coached in the NFL for 38 seasons, passed away Wednesday, his family announced. Mudd was surrounded by family after suffering multiple injuries from a motorcycle accident in late July. He was 78.

The Michigan native spent nearly 50 years in the NFL, breaking in as an offensive lineman with the San Francisco 49ers in 1964 and wrapping up his playing career with the Chicago Bears in 1970. In-between, he was a member of the 1960s All-Decade team after making the Pro Bowl three times and All-Pro twice.

His work on the offensive line was just getting started, however. Mudd served as an O-line coach for the 49ers, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles. His 12-year tenure in Indianapolis was his longest, and it’s where he helped the franchise win Super Bowl XLI.

Colts Start the Gradual Process of Opening Up Their Team Headquarters

The Colts will begin the process of opening their team facility on Tuesday, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star reports.

But it’s not business as usual, at least not right away.

The Colts have “spent the entire quarantine period preparing to reopen,” but the plan is for the reopening to be “gradual and deliberate,” following in accordance with guidelines for the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana, the NFL and the CDC. The team first closed its headquarters March 13 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

That means there will be no coaches or players back in the building yet, save for players coming back from injury who needed to be in the facility for medical reasons.

“The guys who’ve been hurt have been coming in to the building, rehabbing,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said. “As soon as we can get more players in the building, we want that, because we have to make up for a little bit of lost time. The sooner we can get together and get out there working, the better it will be.”

Colts 2020 Schedule Released; One Prime Time Game at Tennessee

The 2020 Colts slate is out, and with it the team has just one prime time game, that being in Tennessee against the Titans.

The team will start the Jacksonville against the Jaguars. The Home opener will be in week two against Minnesota.

Sun., Sept. 13 — At Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Sun., Sept. 20 — Minnesota, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Sun., Sept. 27 — N.Y. Jets, 4:05 p.m. (CBS)

Sun., Oct. 4 — at Chicago, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Sun., Oct. 11 — at Cleveland, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

Sun., Oct. 18 — Cincinnati, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Sun., Oct. 25 — Bye

Sun., Nov. 1 — at Detroit, 1 p.m., CBS

Sun., Nov. 8 — Baltimore, 1 p.m., CBS

Thurs., Nov. 12 — at Tennessee, 8:20 p.m. (FOX/NFLN/AMAZON**)

Sun., Nov. 22 — Green Bay, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Sun., Nov. 29 — Tennessee, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Sun., Dec. 6 — at Houston, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Sun., Dec. 13 — at Las Vegas, 4:05 p.m., (CBS)

Sat. or Sun., Dec. 19 or 20 — Houston, TBD (TV TBD)

Sun., Dec. 27 — at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m., (CBS)

Sun., Jan. 3 — Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (CBS)

(** NFL Network and Amazon simulcast subject to change)

Colts Reportedly Shopping Safety Malik Hooker Ahead of the Draft

There is news today that the Colts are shopping around safety Malik Hooker, which may give some indication of what they will be looking for in Thursday and Friday’s NFL Draft.

What Hooker is worth on the open market is anyone’s guess, but he was a first-round pick just a few years ago in 2017, so trading him now one would think the Colts could get a second or third round pick at worst for his services.

It is also being reported that the Colts may be seeking a trade partner for cornerback Quincy Wilson, again to try and get more picks in the Thursday and Friday Draft.

Based on How It Stands Right Now, the Colts are Favored in 10 Games in 2020

The 2019 Colts season ended with a thud, as the team missed the postseason in a season that was defined by the team losing franchise QB Andrew Luck prior to the start of the season due to retirement.

Looking ahead to 2020, the NFL schedule won’t be out till May, but we know the teams that the Colts will play and where it will be.

With that, website BetOnline (www.BetOnline.ag, Twitter: @betonline_ag) has put out odds for all 32 teams in the league.

Here’s the rundown on what the site expects for Indy in 2020.

Indianapolis Colts +1½ @ Chicago Bears

Indianapolis Colts +1 @ Cleveland Browns

Indianapolis Colts -1½ @ Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts +1 @ Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts -6 @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Indianapolis Colts -1½ @ Las Vegas Raiders

Indianapolis Colts +2½ @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Indianapolis Colts +2½ @ Tennessee Titans

Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts +2½

Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts -9½

Green Bay Packers @ Indianapolis Colts -1½

Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts -4½

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts -10½

Minnesota Vikings @ Indianapolis Colts -2

New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts -7

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts -3

When it Comes to Drafting a QB, The Colts Say They Won’t Force It

The Colts have their quarterback set for 2020 in former Los Angeles Chargers signal caller Phillip Rivers, but beyond that the team is going to need a QB for the future as Rivers won’t last forever.

With the NFL Draft approaching starting on Thursday, the Colts are a team that a number of people seem to feel are going to go after a QB early, but that’s not something they will force.

General manager Chris Ballard says that despite needing one, the team is not going to force it taking a QB just because they will need one eventually to take the place of the 38-year-old Rivers.

“It’s gotta be the right guy, the right fit for us, and for our staff and for our organization,” Ballard said Friday in a pre-draft media session, via the team website.

“So I don’t know when it’s gonna happen: maybe this year, maybe next year, maybe two years from now. I don’t know. And I’m not gonna force it — much to everybody’s dismay, and it might drive everybody nuts, but I’m not gonna force that issue.

“When we decide to take one up that we think is going to be the future guy of this franchise, you gotta be right.”

The Colts owned the 13th pick in the 2020 draft, but now are without a first-rounder and have eight picks overall, including two in the second round. In the second, the Colts have the No. 34 and 44 choices, which could be in the neighborhood for a promising QB.

As for shipping away No. 13 — which would have likely been a good spot for perhaps Utah State’s Jordan Love — Ballard is more that happy with having traded it away to the 49ers for defensive lineman DeForest Buckner.

“He’s got everything we stand for — high character, he’s a producer,” Ballard said of Buckner. “He’s durable, he’s got the character (and) he plays a premium position in this defense. It was an easy decision, easy decision.

“I know the 13th pick is a high price, but we haven’t made a lot of big moves like this and a chance to acquire a player of this caliber with is character, I thought it was a no-brainer,” Ballard said.

“Matter of fact, I held my freaking breath, praying that it was going to get done. I couldn’t be more pleased about getting this young man into this organization and I think you will see the same things I see here going forward.”