Sun Aug 11 3:37pm ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
WESTFIELD, Ind. (AP) The Indianapolis Colts' offense needs a jump start.
Indy's defense has largely held the upper hand in practice and in Thursday's preseason loss the Colts produced only two first downs in their first seven possessions.
Yes, it's early, Andrew Luck remains out with a strained left calf and nobody at training camp is panicking. But the Colts need to find a fix - and quickly.
''I think we started off kind of rough in the run game today,'' left tackle Anthony Castonzo said after Sunday's workout in full pads. ''I thought we came back, doing the things we're supposed to do with our hands and feet and we were playing better football at the end.''
The Colts understand things must change.
In Luck's absence, Jacoby Brissett has been working with a starting unit that has rarely been at full strength.
The coaches kept Castonzo, starting center Ryan Kelly, receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron on the sideline Thursday night. They also put Hilton and Castonzo on a lighter training camp schedule in hopes of keeping two of their oldest and most consistent veterans healthy and fresh for the Sept. 8 season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Kelly, Doyle and Ebron, have all been hurt.
Ebron missed the past week with a foot-ankle injury, Doyle has battled an oblique injury since coming back from offseason hip surgery and Kelly finally made it back to practice Sunday after a shoulder injury kept him out since July 31. Getting Kelly back could be just what the Colts need considering the vital role he played in last season's offensive line turnaround with the first 16-start season of his career.
''Ryan is a special player, so having him back in there helps,'' Castonzo said. ''I will say Josh Andrews got in there and did a good job, but it's good to have Ryan back.''
Indy can't afford to blame all of the problems on missing pieces - especially with the Cleveland Browns coming to suburban Indianapolis for two joint practices this week.
Offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni makes no secret about his desire to produce a top-five rushing offense this season behind incumbent starter Marlon Mack. So far, though, not much has gone right.
Mack also sat out Thursday when quarterback Chad Kelly led the Colts with 53 yards on four carries. Kelly is in a battle for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart with Phillip Walker.
''There's been things that have been good at camp and things that we saw that have been bad at camp, and I think what we saw (in Buffalo) is that we've still got a little ways to go,'' Sirianni said. ''We definitely want to run the ball better and make the plays that are out there to make. I thought we missed a couple throws, dropped a couple balls, we were in the wrong spots so we've just got to tighten things up a little bit.''
Nobody knows when Luck will be back, either.
On Friday, coach Frank Reich said the star quarterback would miss three more practices before he's evaluated on Tuesday when the Colts are off. With joint practices scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, another off day Friday and the game Saturday, it's unlikely Luck practices this week.
The bigger concern might be Luck's inability to get in sync with newcomers Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell or emerging playmakers Deon Cain and Daurice Fountain, who have impressed coaches with an asssortment of big plays in practice. Luck's injury forced him to miss all of the Colts' offseason workouts and cancel the usual West Coast work he does with receivers, too.
But the Colts have continued to see good things out of Funchess, Cain and Fountain.
''Deon had a huge day,'' Reich said after Saturday's light workout. ''I don't know how many deep balls he caught today but usually in practice if you catch one deep ball, you feel great about it. I think he caught three or four. That's a massive day for a receiver out on the practice field.''
They're just hoping the rest of the offense gets it going, too.
''Our defense is posing problems for us, we have to really work,'' Sirianni said. ''We want to clean things up but we also understand that the competition is only going to make us better and we've got good guys on our side of the ball, too.''
NOTES: Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, the Colts former vice chairman, attended practice Sunday. Former defensive end Dwight Freeney attended Saturday's workout. ... The Colts signed cornerback Isaiah Langley and waived tight end Zach Conque.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who can become a free agent in March, remains confident that he will work out a long-term extension with the team. "So when you put that in perspective, my mindset is to be in Dallas. And I've got the confidence in my team to get something done and the confidence in the Cowboys that we'll be able to," Prescott said. The Cowboys are putting Prescott as their No. 1 priority this offseason, but the franchise tag is also an option. The Cowboys disappointed by not making the postseason, but Prescott wasn't the problem. He was the No. 3 QB in terms of fantasy points and threw for 4,902 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. If he remains in Dallas as expected, he'll be a high-end QB1 for fantasy owners in 2020 and beyond.
Updating a previous story from Monday, the Los Angeles Chargers haven't officially moved on from quarterback Philip Rivers, as FOX Sports' Jay Glazer alluded to. All options remain available with the veteran gunslinger, including the franchise tag. However, the fact that Rivers moved his family 2,000 miles away from Los Angeles to Florida could factor into the decision on both sides. The writing seems to be on the wall for the Bolts to cut ties with Rivers when he becomes a free agent this March. The 38-year-old had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2019 in his 16th and likely final season with the Chargers. Rivers can still put up numbers as he gets closer to retirement, but fantasy owners will likely be drafting him as a backup for the 2020 season, no matter where he winds up.
Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said the team could wait until next year to sign quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a long-term contract extension. "I don't want to say necessarily it has to be this offseason, but I will say that it's a priority to get him done," Hunt said. A first-round pick in 2017, Mahomes is eligible for a contract extension now that he's finished his third year in the NFL, but it sounds like the Chiefs aren't exactly in a hurry to get something done. The 24-year-old didn't post the gaudy numbers he had in 2018 -- 5,097 yards, 50 touchdowns -- but he was still more than adequate with 4,031 yards, 26 touchdowns and only five interceptions in 14 games. Mahomes is an elite signal-caller with exceptional athleticism with both his arm and legs. He's here to stay as a high-end QB1 and will take on the 49ers in the Super Bowl this Sunday.
Free-agent RB Alex Collins (Ravens) and QB Chris Streveler (CFL) worked out for the Miami Dolphins recently.
San Francisco 49ers DE Dee Ford (knee, hamstring) said he's not 100 percent and will play through pain of knee tendonitis and a hamstring injury in the Super Bowl.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy, who hasn't had a touch since Week 15 and who was inactive for the AFC Championship against the Titans, said he's not ready to retire after this season. "Nah, I'm not ready to retire, yet," McCoy said. "I still can play. So, I'm not going to retire yet, but that day is coming. That day is definitely coming." The 31-year-old has taken a back seat to running backs Damien Williams and rookie Darwin Thompson down the stretch, and he's unlikely to have much of a role, if any, in the Super Bowl against the 49ers. Shady has become more of a mentor in the running back room than an on-field performer for fantasy owners.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) said his injured shoulder is feeling good but wants to see how his range of motion is and how he will be able to manage the pain in his shoulder.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor Coleman's practice participation this week to see if he will be in any danger of missing the Super Bowl. He will be part of a committee if he plays and can be a flex option.
Los Angeles Chargers impending free-agent QB Philip Rivers' status with the Chargers is uncertain at this time, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The team may consider placing the franchise tag on him or let him leave in free agency.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor the situation to see where Rivers will be playing in 2020. He likely will find a starting job this offseason but may only be a No. 2 quarterback in fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (shoulder) said he has been playing the last two seasons with a torn labrum in his right shoulder and does not plan to have surgery on the shoulder.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle seems to be playing fine despite the injury and continues to be an important part of the running and passing game. He continues to be one of the top tight ends in the NFL and is a must-start fantasy option.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (shoulder) said that he's been playing through a torn labrum in his right shoulder since the start of the 2018 season. "So I dislocated my shoulder last year," Kittle said Sunday on the Pardon My Take podcast, "and my labrum is completely torn. So I don't get surgery on it -- [The protective sleeve] basically helps me, so it doesn't hurt all the time." He didn't miss any games in 2018 and set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377. Kittle said there's "no chance" he has surgery in the future. The 26-year-old has been quiet in the postseason with four catches for 35 yards in two games, but the Niners haven't really needed him with their ground game humming. That could change in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs on Feb. 2.
Free-agent WR Tommylee Lewis (Lions) signed a Reserve/Future contract with the New Orleans Saints Monday, Jan. 27. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Chicago Bears WR Taylor Gabriel could be released this offseason since the team could save $4.5 million in salary cap space.
Fantasy Spin: Gabriel struggled with concussions this season but can be a role in an offense because of his playmaking abilities. He probably will be avoided in most fantasy leagues no matter where he plays in 2020.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt, who will be a free agent in March, emotionally admitted that he would fail a drug test to a police officer during a traffic stop recently. This was caught on video of the police officer's dash cam during the traffic stop. Hunt also admitted that the small amounts of marijuana found in the car were his, but the officer let Hunt off with just the speeding ticket. It remains to be seen if the NFL will consider a suspension for the 24-year-old from this incident. Hunt was released by the Chiefs during the 2018 season due to a domestic-violence incident, and he served a suspension before making his Browns debut in 2019. If he signs with another team this offseason and is given bell-cow duties in the backfield, Hunt could have RB1 upside.
The Los Angeles Chargers have "moved on from Philip Rivers," according to FOX Sports' Jay Glazer. Rivers is set to become a free agent in March, and the writing was on the wall when he recently moved his entire family from San Diego to Florida. Rivers will end a 16-year run with the Chargers, but it remains to be seen where he'll land on the free-agent market this offseason. The Buccaneers are a popular expected destination, but that'll only be if they move on from Jameis Winston. Rivers completed 66 percent of his passes for 4,615 yards, 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 2019 for a QB rating of 88.5. He might have a few more seasons left in him, but at 38 years old his arm strength is clearly deteriorating, and he'll probably be more of a QB2 in 2020, depending on where he winds up.
The Buffalo Bills were cleared of violating policy over the reporting of DE Jerry Hughes' (wrist) wrist injury in 2019. Hughes posted to social media that he was undergoing surgery after playing the season with torn ligaments, but he was not listed on the injury report.
Philadelphia Eagles DT Fletcher Cox was credited with a 61-yard interception return for touchdown at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle posted three catches for 63 yards and a touchdown on four targets for the AFC at the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 26.
Pittsburgh Steelers DE T.J. Watt posted an 82-yard fumble return for touchdown in the fourth quarter for the AFC at the Pro Bowl in Orlando on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews ended up with a game-high nine receptions for an AFC-best 73 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.