Indianapolis Colts insiders and beat writers argued during the offseason that the team lacked depth on their roster in several areas. Those depth concerns largely went unanswered in the preseason and during Week 1.
But the Indianapolis Colts may have no choice but to test their depth in Week 2.
On the team’s latest injury report released September 15, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, cornerback Kenny Moore II and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. were all listed as “DNP.” That designation stands for “did not practice.”
Furthermore, rookie wide receiver Alec Pierce was a limited participant in practice on September 15.
Friday’s practice report will hold the most importance, but if the ailments for those players do not improve, the Colts could be missing as many as 5 starters in the Week 2 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Colts Stars Do Not Practice on Thursday
It’s hard to pick which of those first 3 players are most important for Indianapolis in Week 2. Pittman posted 9 catches for 121 yards and scored the game-tying touchdown versus the Houston Texans. His 121 yards accounted for more than one-third of Indianapolis’ passing yards in Week 1.
Although running back Nyheim Hines had 6 receptions and 50 receiving yards, Indianapolis’ second-leading wide receiver was Ashton Dulin with just 3 catches and 46 yards.
Running back Jonathan Taylor had 35 touches in Week 1. If Pittman can’t play, the Colts may need to give Taylor the ball 40 times to win.
Even so, Indianapolis still has to see another one of its receivers, Dulin, Parris Campbell or Mike Strachan, step up and produce more than what he did in the season opener.
It’s hard to expect Pierce to be the guy to step up when he, like Pittman, is also dealing with an injury. But Pierce playing would also help.
The Colts also lack depth along their defensive line. Buckner played 60 snaps in the season opener against the Texans. Buckner lined up for at least 60 snaps in a single game just once during the 2020 season and twice last year.
That’s evidence the Colts already don’t trust their depth up front. Not having Buckner would likely force backup defensive tackles Bryon Cowart, who played 14 defensive snaps, and Eric Johnson, who had 4 snaps in Week 1, to play a lot more versus Jacksonville.
In his 7-year career, Buckner has earned a spot on an All-Pro team twice and made 2 Pro Bowls.
Indianapolis does feature good depth at cornerback, but that doesn’t mean the Colts don’t want Moore at their disposal on September 18. Moore is considered one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL, and he made 6 solo tackles in the season opener.
Shaquille Leonard Continuing to Progress
If there was any good news with Indianapolis’ injury report on September 15, it was that Leonard was a full participant in Thursday’s practice.
“Feeling better than last week,” Leonard told The Athletic’s Zak Keefer. “Practice going pretty smooth.”
Leonard wouldn’t indicate if that meant he was planning to play in Week 2, but the linebacker is apparently closer to suiting up this Sunday than he was for the season opener.
Getting Leonard back would be a huge boost. The 3-time All-Pro has 15.0 sacks, 20 quarterback hits, 8 forced fumbles and 11 interceptions in his 4-year career.
Leonard returning becomes even more important if any of the other Colts stars on the injury report don’t dress in Week 2.
The Colts will have a better idea which of their stars, if any, will be able to play versus Jacksonville after practice on September 16.