Colts Rule Out Defensive Star, Key Offensive Weapons Set to Return in Week 3

Frank Reich

Getty Head coach Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts will see some key players return to the field but also sit out Week 3 because of injuries.

The Indianapolis Colts received more good and bad news on the injury front ahead of Week 3.

Wide receivers Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce are set to return after missing last week’s matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Colts insider Joel A. Erickson of The Indianapolis Star reported Pierce cleared the concussion protocol on the night of September 22. Furthermore, Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich said during a press conference on September 23 that Pittman is “ready to go.”

But the Colts also ruled out All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard for the third straight game. Leonard has yet to make his 2022 debut despite having practiced in full the past two weeks.

In addition to Leonard, rookie left tackle Bernhard Raimann has also been ruled out because of injury.

Pierce Clears Protocol, Pittman “Ready to Go”

While the Colts still aren’t fully healthy, it’s great news that Indianapolis’ 2 injured wide receivers from Week 2 are set to return.

In Week 1, Pittman accounted for about one-third of Indianapolis’ passing offense, recording 9 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Without him, the Colts wide receivers combined for just 8 catches and 126 yards while the Colts didn’t score against the Jaguars in Week 2.

Indianapolis still needs to develop a second receiver, but the team’s No. 1 passing-game weapon will be available. He’ll likely be called upon a lot for the Colts to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Pierce had a tough NFL debut in Week 1 versus the Houston Texans. He only received 2 targets despite playing 47 snaps and dropped a touchdown. Pierce also sustained a hit to the head, which gave him mild concussion-like symptoms hours after the game.

But Pierce is still a candidate to emerge as a secondary weapon behind Pittman. At the University of Cincinnati last year, Pierce posted 52 catches for 884 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Raimann to Miss First NFL Game

The rookie left tackle did not practice on September 21 and was limited in practice on September 22 because of an ankle injury. The ailment will cause him to miss his first NFL game.

Raimann has been in a rotation with Colts starting left tackle Matt Pryor to begin this season. Raimann played 15 snaps in Week 2 after lining up for 16 snaps during his NFL debut. While he played fewer snaps against Jacksonville, Raimann lined up for a greater percentage of the team’s offensive plays in Week 2 (30% versus 17%).

Pryor’s snaps and snap percentage dropped from the first to the two second game, going from 87% to 70%.

Pryor struggled versus the Jaguars, giving up multiple hits on quarterback Matt Ryan. If he continues to not play well, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Colts turn to Raimann on a more regular basis.

But that won’t be the case this week. Ryan’s blind side figures to be entirely Pryor’s responsibility against the Chiefs.

Colts See “Incremental Improvement” With Leonard

While the Indianapolis fanbase has to be pleased Pittman and Pierce will return, it’s equally disappointing that Leonard will not make his season debut in Week 3.

Leonard underwent back surgery on June 7 to repair a nerve that caused pain in his left calf and ankle during 2022. Initially, Reich didn’t rule out Leonard returning at the beginning of the preseason, but Leonard didn’t make it back onto the practice field until August 30.

The Colts elected to keep Leonard off the PUP list to begin the season. Placing Leonard on the PUP list would have ruled him out for the first 4 games and not allowed him to practice.

Leonard is going to end up missing the first 3 games anyway, but through practicing, Reich at least can offer fans a silver lining.

“There’s been incremental improvement every week,” Reich said to the media. “What’s left is he’s got to know he can go out there and play winning football. That’s the bottom line.”

That’s a very small silver lining, though, as the Colts try to win their first game of the season against the Chiefs.

Fellow defensive star Yannick Ngakoue has not been ruled out, but he only practiced in limited fashion during the week because of a back issue. Erickson reported Ngakoue is questionable heading into the Week 3 matchup.

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