Several Colts Stars Return to Practice, Key Defenders Sidelined With Injury

Frank Reich

Getty Head coach Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts saw several key players return to practice on September 29.

The Indianapolis Colts’ list of players not participating in practice was rather long on September 28. But Colts fans can breathe a sigh of relief, as several of their stars returned to fully practicing on September 29 after sitting out the day prior.

The list of returnees included 2021 NFL rushing champion Jonathan Taylor.

With Taylor, center Ryan Kelly, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Stephon Gilmore were back at practice on September 29 after not practicing the previous day. Linebacker Shaquille Leonard was also fully practicing both days.

But, it wasn’t all good news for the Colts on the injury front. Key defensive players — defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and safety Julian Blackmon — remained on the sidelines and did not practice on September 29.

Colts Stars Return to Practice

Indianapolis was missing talent at pretty much every position group in practice on September 28. While the team is still far from fully healthy, the Colts getting back the team’s top running back, center, edge rusher and cornerback helps a lot.

CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin reported that Taylor missed the first practice of his entire football career on September 28. Even though it was a Wednesday practice, that probably left some Colts fans feeling uneasy about Taylor dealing with a toe injury.

But Taylor fully practiced on September 29, putting him on schedule to face the Tennessee Titans.

The Colts-Titans showdown in Week 4 will feature the NFL rushing champions from each of the last 3 seasons. The running back who performs the best behind his offensive line — both of which have struggled early this season for the Colts and Titans — will likely have the edge in the matchup.

Ngakoue has been dealing with a back injury for a couple weeks. He didn’t practice on Thursday ahead of Week 3, but he still played his normal amount of snaps against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Gilmore and Kelly were new additions to the Indianapolis injury report this week. But there should be no concern either player will be limited with their return to practice.

Blackmon & Buckner Remain Sidelined, Bernhard Raimann Limited

Like Ngakoue, Buckner has dealt with injuries over the last few weeks. Only for Buckner, it’s been different ailments.

Ahead of Week 3, the Colts listed Buckner on the injury report with a hip issue. Heading into Week 4, Buckner hasn’t practiced because of an elbow ailment.

Blackmon hasn’t practiced either because of an ankle injury he suffered against the Chiefs in Week 3. He left the game in the first half and didn’t return.

Of those 2 defenders, Buckner is the more likely 1 to play versus the Titans. The defensive tackle has only missed 2 games in his 7-year NFL career. But the Colts will likely know more about the playing status for Buckner and Blackmon after Friday’s practice.

On offense, rookie offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann has been practicing ahead of Week 4 but in limited fashion. He missed the matchup against the Chiefs because of an ankle injury.

Leonard Again Practicing in Full

The last key element to Indianapolis’ practice report on September 29 was the team’s 3-time All-Pro linebacker.

Leonard is fully practicing, but the Colts have seen this story the previous 2 weeks. He practiced in full before Weeks 2 and 3 but did not play on Sunday.

The linebacker explained to the media on September 29 that there’s a lot more involved with playing on Sundays than simply practicing.

“Practicing for four weeks, people gotta understand that you know that that first week there’s just nothing but stiffness,” Leonard told the media. “Second week, ‘OK, now let me see how I can cover ground.’ Third week, ‘OK, let me see how can I tackle. Can I tackle in space? Can I move left or right? Can I do things I know I’m supposed to do?’

“That’s what it all comes down to. It’s not just me practicing. Yes, I’ve practiced full. But you’ve got to know in depth why am I practicing? Why am I just practicing and why am I not playing?”

Leonard emphasized a couple times that if he feels able to play, then he will do whatever he can to be on the field. But despite practicing fully, it’s not clear if Leonard will return to game action this week.

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