INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – His Indianapolis Colts fell short against the Baltimore Ravens, but Frank Reich exited Lucas Oil Stadium Monday evening with plenty of teachable moments.
In the 20-19 loss, the Colts were penalized 13 times for 129 yards, including two more flags for violating the NFL’s new helmet rule. And they suffered three turnovers. And on two of its four red-zone opportunities, the offense came away with zero points.
“That’s not a good formula,’’ Reich said. “The good news is we can correct those things.’’
There’s little time to do so. The Colts are back at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday afternoon for a 4:30 kickoff with the San Francisco 49ers.
The red-zone shortcomings were crippling.
Andrew Luck was guilty of the first when he tried to force a pass to tight end Jack Dolye from the Ravens’ 11-yard line. Defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. tipped the ball and secured it for an interception.
“That was a bad play something I would like to not repeat,’’ Luck said.
Another red-zone drive reached a first-and-goal at the Ravens’ 2, but went no further. Rookie running back Jordan Wilkins was dropped for a 1-yard loss on first down before Jacoby Brissett misfired on three straight passes.
Hines’ troubles continue
This is not the way to impress your coaches. Nyheim Hines’ ball-security issues continued as the rookie running back bobbled one kickoff return in the first half and lost a fumble on the second-half kick.
Late in the fourth quarter, Hines bobbled a punt return before securing it.
That came on the heels of the fourth-round draft pick bobbling two punt returns at Seattle. The Colts are searching for a viable kick returner, but Hines is doing nothing to boost his candidacy.
“It needs to be better,’’ Reich said. “He knows that and we all know that.
“Don’t want to overreact. Want to go back and evaluate the whole deal and then make a decision.’’
It’s early, but the Colts might be among the league leaders in being penalized for violating the new leading-with-the-helmet rule.
Against the Ravens, defensive tackle Denico Autry was flagged in the first quarter for lowering his head and leading with his helmet while cleaning up a tackle on Ravens tight end Nick Boyle. Early in the second quarter, cornerback Nate Hairston was penalized for another helmet violation while tackling running back Javorius Allen.
Here’s where we remind you safety Shamarko Thomas was penalized and ejected for a leading-with-the-helmet infraction in the Aug. 9 opener at Seattle. The Colts released him two days later, then the NFL slapped him with a $26,739 fine.
Reich believes officials are purposely “over-officiating’’ the new rule during the preseason, and the penalties will lessen in the regular season as players adjust.
“We welcome that,’’ he said. “We all know that the helmet as a weapon is not good for the game.’’
Safety Clayton Geathers made his first appearance of the preseason, and an immediate impression. Geathers started alongside Matthias Farley and was credited with two tackles. He also had a special teams tackle that forced the Ravens’ Tim White to fumble on a punt return.
Geathers missed a good portion of training camp and the preseason opener at Seattle while fully recovering from offseason knee surgery.
“Yeah, it felt good to be back,’’ he said. “The first one back is always a blessing.’’
Looking to create takeaways, Geathers added, is a “mentality. Just go for the ball and I am glad that I was able to make a play.’’
Running back Josh Ferguson suffered a groin injury in the second quarter and did not return. That’s a major blow to his attempt at making the final cut. Ferguson missed the majority of training camp with an injury.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.