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With inactive Colts rookie CB Quincy Wilson, it’s all about practice

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – With starting cornerback Rashaan Melvin likely to miss Sunday’s road trip to Cincinnati due to a concussion, the Indianapolis Colts would seem to have an obvious replacement.

That would be second-round draft pick Quincy Wilson.

But for those assuming Wilson is the obvious replacement, do so at your own risk.

Defensive coordinator Ted Monachino had every opportunity to endorse Wilson Thursday afternoon, but rather pointed out the reasons Wilson has been a healthy game-day inactive the last three weeks.

The bottom line: it’s all about practice.

“When Quincy practices and plays better than the other guys, he’ll be up and he’ll be playing,’’ Monachino said. “He played in the Arizona game (week 2), played well. We’re not at all worried about putting Quincy in the game.’’

Against the Cardinals, Wilson started in place of injured Vontae Davis and distinguished himself with a pair of defended passes – one at the goal line – and two tackles. He aggravated a knee injury in the game that led to him being inactive the next two games, but Wilson’s health has not been a factor the last three weeks.

According to Monachino, that might not change – even with Melvin’s situation; he missed his second straight day of practice Thursday while in the NFL’s concussion protocol – until and unless things change during the week of practice.

“He’s got to practice and prepare well,’’ Monachino said. “That’s part of him being young and it’s also a part of him being a little immature, and it’s also a function of he’s got guys who are pretty good pros who are working their tails off to keep him where he is right now.

“Hopefully that’s a motivator for him just to hear me say that. When he practices better and prepares better, he’ll play more.’’

It’s entirely possible the coaching staff decides Wilson’s game-day plusses outweigh his practice negatives and starts him against the Bengals. The other options are Chris Milton, Pierre Desir and Kenny Moore II. Rookie Nate Hairston has almost exclusively played in the slot.

“Quincy gives effort,’’ Monachino said. “He plays what we ask him to play.

“In practice, he’s got to know that every down counts and when we’re playing in those windows where we’re getting very focused work in a certain area, he’s got to understand that’s the area we’re defending against. If it’s third-down-and-medium, he’s got to play tight coverage. And if he can’t, he can’t be out there.

“It’s not a matter of effort with Quincy and it’s not even a matter of intelligence or want-to. He just has to show us on the practice field that he is dialed in and ready to go and mature enough to never take a down off mentally.’’

Wilson is the latest of the Colts’ 2017 draft class to be singled out. General manager Chris Ballard criticized outside linebacker Tarell Basham, a third-round pick, earlier this month.

“We need to see more out of Basham,’’ he said. “We have (seen) little flashes, but not enough right now. We need more out of him.’’

“We need him to grow up and continue to show us he can be the pass rusher we saw in college and right now, he’s not there.’’

Basham has been a healthy inactive once and contributed sparingly in six games: 1 tackle.

To make matters worse for the rookie class, first-round pick Malik Hooker suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville.

 You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.