Colts WRs Return to Practice, Key Defender Sidelined With Injury

Frank Reich

Getty Head coach Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts saw 2 wide receivers return to practice this week.

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

The good news is wide receivers Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce have returned to the practice field — although in Pittman’s case, in limited fashion. But unfortunately, the Colts added edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue to the injury report this week.

On September 22, Ngakoue didn’t practice at all.

Pittman, Pierce Return to Practice

It’s great news Pittman and Pierce are back on the field ahead of the Week 3 matchup versus the Kansas City Chiefs. Without them on September 18 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Colts wide receivers combined for only 8 catches and 126 yards. Plus, the Indianapolis offense scored zero points.

The Colts badly need back Pittman. In Week 1, he posted 9 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Pittman still leads all Indianapolis wide receivers in receptions despite missing Week 2.

Last year, Pittman received 129 targets. The next closest Indianapolis pass catcher had 69 targets.

Pittman is a huge part of the offense, and the Colts need him on the field making big plays in order to keep up with the high-powered Chiefs.

The Colts drafted Pierce in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Pierce received 2 targets in Week 1, but didn’t bring in a catch. He dropped a pass in the end zone.

How well Pierce bounces back and emerges during his rookie season, though, will be a key factor for the Colts offense this year.

Pierce missed Week 2 because he was not able to clear the concussion protocol. Colts head coach Frank Reich said Pierce developed mild concussion-like symptoms following the Week 1 matchup against the Houston Texans.

Pittman is dealing with a quad injury that he suffered in practice preparing for Week 1. The Athletic’s James Boyd reported Pittman declined to answer questions about his injury on September 22.

Ngakoue Dealing With Back Injury

As great as it was to see the receivers back on the field, Ngakoue’s ailment appears to be getting worse. He was limited in practice on September 21 because of a back injury. Ngakoue then didn’t practice at all the following day.

Ngakoue was one of Indianapolis’ key offseason acquisitions. The Colts traded veteran cornerback Rock Ya-Sin to the Las Vegas Raiders for Ngakoue in a rare NFL player-for-player swap.

Through 2 games, the trade hasn’t exactly worked out for the Colts.

Ngakoue has been largely non-existence in the pass rush for Indianapolis. He doesn’t have a sack and only 1 quarterback hit with 1 tackle for loss in 106 snaps to begin the season.

If there’s any silver lining, Ngakoue usually improves as the season goes. In 3 of the last 4 years, Ngakoue didn’t have any sacks in at least his first 3 games, but he has never finished with less than 8.0 sacks in any of his 6 seasons.

Last year, Ngakoue didn’t record a sack until Week 5, and he ended the 2021 season with 10 sacks.

The Colts are still counting on Ngakoue being a difference maker, but he has to get healthy first.

Decision on Shaquille Leonard’s Status Coming Friday

Speaking of difference makers, it would be a huge boost if the 3-time All-Pro Shaquille Leonard returned in time to play against the Chiefs.

Last season, Leonard led the NFL with 8 forced fumbles. He has 17 forced fumbles and 11 interceptions in 4 NFL seasons.

Leonard underwent back surgery on June 7, but this is his fourth week back at practice. He was a full participant in practice last week and has been on September 21 and 22.

The Athletic’s Zak Keefer reported the Colts will determine on September 23 whether Leonard will play versus the Chiefs.

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