INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – They’re easy to overlook, considering the mass of humanity roaming the practice fields.
As the Indianapolis Colts went through more offseason work Wednesday, more than 70 players transitioned from stretching to light jogging to position drills to 11-on-11 work.
But it was impossible not to notice the handful who weren’t there. Roughly a dozen players are spending a good portion of the offseason on the mend from surgery or dealing with an injury. The list included more than a few notables: Andrew Luck (strained calf), Darius Leonard (ankle surgery), Clayton Geathers (knee procedure), Jack Doyle (hip surgery), Eric Ebron (groin surgery), Deon Cain (knee surgery).
As significant as the offseason is in the growth of a team, even that takes a backseat to ensuring everyone is as ready as possible for the start of training camp in late July and, more important, the Sept. 8 opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“My whole mode and our whole mode . . . is just to be real conservative with guys; anyone who has an issue whatsoever,’’ Frank Reich said. “The main thing is to get to camp at full strength.
“So really any player who has an issue, we are just going to be overcautious.’’
That in mind, here’s a look at three Colts on the mend.
TE Jack Doyle
- Background: The 2017 Pro Bowler suffered a hip injury in week 2 at Washington that would force him to miss the next five games. He then sustained a kidney injury in week 12 against Miami that would send him to the season-ending injured reserve list. Doyle said he underwent a “procedure’’ to address the kidney injury and surgery to repair the hip.
- Update: So far, so good. The kidney is 100 percent and Doyle still is working his way back from the hip surgery. He’s running and starting to introduce cutting and other position-specific movements into his rehab. General manager Chris Ballard indicated Doyle might be cleared in mid-June to return to practice and should be ready for training camp. Doyle lost roughly 20 pounds while dealing with his injuries, but has regained most of his playing weight (approximately 260 pounds).
- From Doyle: “I feel good. Happy with the progress that I am making. Just slowly coming along, but it’s going in the right direction. (A timetable?) No, I really don’t. I really am trying to take it one day at a time. Not rushing anything.’’
S Clayton Geathers
- Background: It was the week 1 participation/injury report as the Colts prepared for their opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, and noteworthy for whose name was missing. That would be Clayton Geathers. It would be the only time all season the veteran safety was a no-show. Over the final 15 weeks, excluding the bye, he was listed with knee, elbow and neck injuries along with a concussion. Leading up to the final 15 games, Geathers would be a full practice participant just 11 times. He would practice twice in a week – either full or limited – only on three occasions.
Geathers would start 12 games, but it always was a battle getting to Sunday. That resolve endeared him to his teammates and Ballard, but was an issue nonetheless. He’s missed 22 of 48 regular-season games over the last three seasons. Geathers’ injury history contributed to the Colts re-signing him to a “prove it’’ one-year contract worth approximately $2.75 million.
- Update: Geathers revealed he underwent a “clean up procedure’’ on the knee that bothered him throughout much of last season, and his rehab has kept him off the practice field to this point. Again, all signs point to Geathers being ready for camp.
- From Geathers: “I’m feeling great. It’s been a while, so I’m just happy to be back and be back out there soon. The goal is to practice more (in 2019). That’s my mindset. It’s kind of protecting me from myself. It’s good. I think the plan we have in place is a good plan and I’m just trying to stick to it and follow it.’’
WR Deon Cain
- Background: The 2018 sixth-round draft pick was impossible to miss during his rookie training camp. He made play-after-play, day-after-day. Then, the cruel nature of the NFL reared its head. In the preseason opener at Seattle Cain tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Did we mention cruel? It came without contact, as he was coming out of a break. And it came on Aug. 9, his 21st birthday.
- Update: Cain is approximately 10 months out from surgery. He’s upbeat, determined. A visit to Colts.com offers an interesting video series on Cain’s rehab process. While he continues to spend tons of time with the team’s trainers and rehab staff, he’s also getting on the field away from the team and running routes and improving his conditioning. Cain should be ready for what promises to be an ultra-competitive training camp among wideouts, but Ballard cautioned it might be October or November before Cain is ready to really cut it loose.
- From Cain: “Pretty much right on schedule. Feeling good. Just still trying to work on the little things, but definitely feeling good. Probably around training camp I should be back around and full-go. Man, there’s a lot I’m looking forward to. Just put back on my jersey. You know, go out there and smell that first green grass again, really go out there competing, man. That’s really what I’m all about. It’s really just putting on my jersey, being back out there, strapping it up and being out there with the guys again.’’
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