INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It’s a different week and different opponent, but a similar challenge for the Indianapolis Colts’ injury-depleted secondary.
Yes, next man up. Or men.
With the Houston Texans in town Sunday for a massive AFC South showdown, the Colts will be without one of their top cornerbacks – Kenny Moore II is out with a knee injury – and with the status of another – Pierre Desir – is uncertain. Desir is questionable with a hamstring injury that kept him out of practice all week.
Frank Reich mentioned Friday Desir would be a “game-time decision.’’
Moore and Desir were temporarily forced from the week 5 win at Kansas City with their injuries, but each returned. It was thought having the bye week would benefit each’s rehab, but that hasn’t been the case, most certainly with Moore.
Also ruled out of the Texans game are rookie wideout Parris Campbell (abdomen) and defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis (ankle). Safety Malik Hooker is doubtful as he continues his rehab from knee surgery.
Guard Quenton Nelson (hip) and defensive end Justin Houston (calf) are questionable. Nelson has yet to miss a snap in 23 career games and was one of 11 players held out of Friday’s practice. Five had scheduled rest days: offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, defensive tackle Denico Autry, safety Clayton Geathers, wideout T.Y. Hilton and defensive end Jabaal Sheard.
Being forced to tap into their depth isn’t novel to the Colts. They headed into their meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs without Hooker and Geathers (concussion), their starting safeties. They were forced to compensate for the loss of All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, who missed three games with a concussion, and dealt with Hilton missing one game with a quadriceps injury.
“Just to have a plan,’’ Reich said of juggling personnel. “Kenny, Malik and Pierre have not been going all week so nothing catches us by surprise.
“Guys have got a lot of reps and (will) be ready to step up as needed.’’
Players rarely play after missing an entire week of practice. One noticeable except is Hilton, who routinely did just that over the final five games last season while dealing with a serious injury to his right ankle.
The Colts should be in decent shape if Desir is cleared to play. He likely would start along with rookie Rock Ya-Sin. That would leave Quincy Wilson as the nickel back.
However, the remaining depth consists of rookies Shakial Taylor and Marvell Tell III. They share 15 snaps, and all came in the Kansas City game when Desir and Moore were briefly sidelined.
Taylor was signed to the practice squad Sept. 30 and elevated to the active roster Oct. 5. He saw his first NFL action the next day at Arrowhead. Tell, a fifth-round draft pick, also took his first defensive snaps – three in all – against the Chiefs.
“Next man up pretty much,’’ Wilson said. “We just take it from there. We’ll see on Sunday who those guys are depending on who’s there and who’s not.
“Everyone’s on the team for a reason.’’
The timing is hardly ideal.
The Houston Texans follow the lead of quarterback Deshaun Watson, and he’s surrounded by a diverse and skilled supporting case.
Watson is among the early front-runners for MVP consideration on the strength of 1,644 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 107.9 passer rating. He’s been at his best in pressure situations: a league-best 142.0 rating in the fourth quarter.
The Texans offer three top wideout threats – DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Kenny Stills – and a pair of productive running backs in Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson. Houston’s offense No. 6 in total yards per game (396.8), No. 5 in rushing (139.8), No. 10 in passing (257) and No. 15 in scoring (27.0). Tight ends Darren Fells and Jordan Akins have combined for 28 catches, 355 yards and five TDs.
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