Clayton Geathers returns to the Colts despite little practice

Jeremy Langford #36 of the Chicago Bears runs the ball near the goal line against Clayton Geathers #42 of the Indianapolis Colts in the second half of a preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 22, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Jeremy Langford #36 of the Chicago Bears runs the ball near the goal line against Clayton Geathers #42 of the Indianapolis Colts in the second half of a preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 22, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – To those who trumpet the importance of training camp and preseason games, we give you Clayton Geathers.

Projected to be the starting free safety before breaking a bone in his right foot in late July, Geathers will see his first action of the season Sunday when the Indianapolis Colts face the Broncos in Denver.

He will have practiced twice since mid-June. Total. Geathers missed Wednesday’s practice because of the birth of his daughter, Carsyn.

“It feels good to be back on the field with the guys,’’ he said Thursday. “To get back to work, to get back on the field is great.

“Now I am feeling stronger and better than ever.’’

Geathers’ accelerated return couldn’t come at a better time. The Colts list 11 players on the Friday injury/status report, and all are defensive players. Rookie T.J. Green, who started in Geathers’ spot against Detroit, is out with a sprained right knee. Also, out are cornerbacks Patrick Robinson (concussion) and Vontae Davis (ankle) and defensive end Henry Anderson (knee).

Although Geathers is listed as questionable, coach Chuck Pagano confirmed he’ll play, albeit in a limited role.

“We’ll use him right away,’’ he said, adding, “I can’t expect him to go out there and play 60, 65, 70 plays. That would be foolish on our part.

“He feels good. He understands and knows the plan. There will be some rust to knock off and we’ll be smart how we use him.’’

A likely scenario is for Winston Guy to start alongside Mike Adams and Geathers being sprinkled in as a coverage safety/linebacker in nickel situations.

“Whatever they ask me to do,’’ Geathers said.

The 2015 fourth-round draft pick appeared in 15 games as a rookie, two as a starter. Geathers spent the offseason working in tandem with Adams, but broke a bone in his right foot while working out on his own in late July.

Pagano was asked about Geathers playing after such limited practice time. He referenced Sio Moore. The veteran linebacker started against Detroit last week after a week of practice. He suffered a hamstring injury in the preseason opener against Buffalo.

Moore led the Colts with 13 tackles against the Lions.

“Came in, practiced a couple of days during the week and was out for a long period of time,’’ Pagano said.

However, mistakes are to be expected whenever a player misses extended practice time.

“There’s going to be some stuff that doesn’t look so good and doesn’t look like football,’’ Pagano said, “but that’s understandable because they haven’t played.

“But he’s a smart guy, a talented guy. He’ll go out there and make some plays.’’

Medical update: Linebacker Trent Cole is doubtful after missing all week with a back injury. The list of questionables: Geathers, cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie (hamstring) and Darius Butler (ankle), linebacker Robert Mathis (foot) and defensive linemen Zach Kerr (foot) and Kendall Langford (knee). Linebacker Trent Cole, who didn’t practice all week with a back injury, is doubtful.

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton returned to practice Friday after being held out the previous day due to a knee issue. Pagano said that was a maintenance situation with Hinton and that he “was fine.’’

Contrasting styles: Don’t be surprised if the Colts attempt to ease Andrew Luck’s workload against the Broncos by attempting to establish Frank Gore and the ground game.

But should we have confidence in them succeeding?

Here’s where we’ll remind everyone the Colts haven’t had a 100-yard rusher since Vick Ballard in week 14 of the 2012 season. That 57-game drought, including the playoffs, is the NFL’s longest active streak.

During that stretch, the NFL has had 312 100-yard games by 88 different players.

But here’s more perspective. While the Colts have had one 100-yard rusher in their last 58 games:

  • Their defense has allowed 13.
  • The Broncos have had 17. Contributing to Denver’s total have been Ronnie Hillman (6), C.J. Anderson (4), Willis McGahee (3), Knowshon Moreno (3) and Montee Ball (1).