Some normality returned to the Indianapolis Colts on November 10. That was at least the case for quarterback Matt Ryan.
The 37-year-old veteran reportedly returned to practice for the first time in three weeks on November 10. He had been out with a Grade 2 separated shoulder.
Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday announced in his introductory press conference that second-year signal caller Sam Ehlinger would start in Week 10. The Colts have not yet revealed if Ryan will be active for the game.
Former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles has been serving as Ehlinger’s backup the last two contests.
Ryan Not Assuming He’s Done With the Colts
When the Colts benched Ryan following Week 7, the assumption was that he was done in Indianapolis. A big reason why that was the case was because of the way Ryan’s contract is constructed.
The quarterback has a roster bonus greater than $17 million guaranteed for injury if he can’t pass a physical by the middle of March 2023. So it made sense to bench Ryan to avoid paying him his bonus since the Colts likely already realized, based on how he played in the first seven weeks, that they didn’t want the veteran quarterback on the roster next year.
But Ryan isn’t taking anything for granted.
“As a player, you learn to not assume anything,” he told the media when talking about all of what has been happening with the Colts on November 9. “I think that it’s fair after 15 years and what has transpired (here), it’s fair to not assume anything.”
Ryan also mentioned the potential for more changes before the end of the season. He couldn’t be more right.
Colts owner Jim Irsay pushed back about the narrative Ryan won’t play the rest of this season during a phone call with The Athletic’s Bob Kravitz on November 8.
“I don’t know how people report these things falsely. There’s no playing-time thing for Matt Ryan to get his $17-million bonus in the offseason,” Irsay said. “There’s no such thing. They’re all available to help us win, bottom line. There’s no bonus if Matt plays a certain amount of time, it’s ridiculous.”
Irsay continued to say that Ehlinger is not guaranteed to finish the season as the team’s starting quarterback and that Ryan or Foles could play as well.
With that in mind, Ryan returning to practice is more noteworthy than a traditional backup signal caller getting healthy. Ryan’s return gives the Colts more options behind center.
Ryan has thrown for 2,008 passing yards with 9 touchdowns and a 68.4% completion percentage in 7 starts this season. He also leads the league with 9 interceptions.
Ehlinger has posted a 61.5% completion percentage with 304 passing yards, no touchdowns and zero interceptions in two starts.
Jonathan Taylor Practices a Second Straight Day
The Colts received other good news on the injury front as well. All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor practiced on November 10.
It was the second straight day Taylor, who has been dealing with an ankle injury since Week 4, was practicing.
Taylor missed Week 9, and without him, the Colts had their worst offensive performance from a yardage standpoint since 1997.
He has struggled this season, but that’s mostly due to the ankle problem and slumping offensive line in front of him. A year after leading the NFL with 1,811 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, Taylor has 462 rushing yards and 1 touchdown.
Taylor hasn’t eclipsed the 100-yard mark in a game since Week 1.
But him playing will still be key for the Colts in Week 10, as Indianapolis aims to break a 3-game losing streak.
While the Las Vegas Raiders are ranked 14th in the NFL in run defense this season, they have allowed each of their last four opponents to run for 100 yards. In Week 9, Las Vegas yielded 168 rushing yards to the Jacksonville Jaguars, which is a season high for the Raiders defense.