Indianapolis Colts' Adam Vinatieri (4) kicks a field goal from the hold of Rigoberto Sanchez during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich throws the challenge flag during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) takes a snap against the Pittsburgh Steelers after Jacoby Brissett was injured in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Houston Texans inside linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) during the second half of an NFL football game at Wembley Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone walks the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans at Wembley Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
Jaguars QB Nick Foles holds a ball during a NFL training session of the Jacksonville Jaguars at the at Allianz Park in London, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. The Jacksonville Jaguars are preparing for an NFL regular season game against the Houston Texans in London on Sunday. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Nick Foles’ long-awaited return will come with all the typical emotions Sunday.
The Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback is excited to play, eager to prove he’s healthy and optimistic about keeping his team in the playoff hunt. And, the most anticipated part for Foles might be his brief reunion with Colts coach Frank Reich, the man who helped revive his career.
“He’s a guy that I admire more than anything,” Foles said. “He’s a guy that has impacted my life so much, and he’s going to be on the opposing sideline, so that’s going to be fun.”
Foles entered the league as a third-round pick, full of promise. But after four seasons and 35 starts in Philadelphia and St. Louis, Foles found himself in the backup role in Kansas City and then Philadelphia, where Reich was in his second season as offensive coordinator.
Then, when MVP front-runner Carson Wentz went down with a late-season injury and the Eagles’ offense started to sputter, Reich made an adjustment for the playoffs and everything changed.
Foles led the Eagles to the Super Bowl title, was named Super Bowl MVP and Reich took the job in Indianapolis.
On Sunday, they’ll be on opposite sidelines in Indianapolis.
“I think it will be emotional seeing him because of what he means to me,” Foles said. “He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever met, so when he went there, I was so excited for him. But I’m going to go out there and play.”
The Colts (5-4) don’t have much film on Foles.
He took only 11 snaps before breaking his left collarbone then turned the job over to rookie Gardner Minshew who became an instant sensation because of his moustache and his ability to win.
Now with the Jags (4-5) needing a division win, Foles returns - just in time for Reich to help give his defensive coaches a scouting report.
“I sat down and spoke with (defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus) about Nick’s abilities, mindset and that kind of thing - not a whole lot to be honest with you,” Reich said. “I told him what I thought about a few things, in detail about a few things.”
Indy is dealing with its own issues.
For the first time in 13 months, they’ve lost back-to-back games. They’ve fallen out of the AFC South lead and are dealing with their own quarterback situation as Jacoby Brissett tries to play with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Brian Hoyer replaced Brissett each of the past two weeks but Brissett was a full participant in practice and is expected to reclaim his starting job Sunday.
But for Foles, this game comes with a personal touch.
“He’d get up in front of the team after a loss or tough time and he just kept it real and he kept it light, he was joyful,” Foles said of Reich. “There was something different in his heart. But seeing him handle his everyday life like he did, with the joy he had, and how he spoke to people and loved everyone, was the most impactful thing and it was really special to be around. And obviously, he’s an amazing coach, he knows football.”
Adam Vinatieri has missed six extra points and five field goals this season, and it was a hot topic all week in Indy.
The Colts brought in free agents for tryouts Tuesday before opting to stick with the 24-year veteran who is the league’s career scoring leader. Reich continues to insist he has full confidence in his kicker.
“I believe whatever we’re going through is just a phase and he is going to help us win games and get to where we want to go,” Reich said.
Indy won 11 of the first 14 games in this series, but lately Jacksonville has had the upper hand.
The Jags have won three of four under coach Doug Marrone and have not allowed a point in the past three halves against the Colts. Indy has only been shut out twice since 2003 - and both came against Jacksonville during Marrone’s tenure.
“We still have to keep developing, we still have to get these guys better,” Marrone said. “We need to get better and better each week.”
While Indy’s offense has languished the past few weeks, the defense has played well.
In the past five games, Indy is allowing an average of 18.2 points - a number that is even lower when an interception return for a touchdown is subtracted. But the difference isn’t just showing up on the scoreboard.
Reich and Eberflus say they see it on tape, play after play.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery was actively shopped after the team guaranteed his 2020 salary last season. Jeffery found out that he was on the market and was troubled by the mixed messages he had received from the team, a source close to the receiver said.
Fantasy Spin: Jeffery is now 30 and has been riddled by injuries his entire career. He hasn't had a 1,000-yard season since 2014, and he has very minimal upside as a WR5.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins averaged 96 yards receiving in three playoff contests in 2019 after averaging 51.8 receiving yards in 13 regular-season outings.
Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack managed only three catches (four targets) for 14 yards in his final six games after producing 11 catches (13 targets) for 68 yards in his first eight outings.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne signed his one-year tender on Monday. Bourne had 30 receptions on 44 targets for 358 yards and a career-high five touchdowns in 16 games (zero starts) for the team in 2019. There is plenty of opportunity for Bourne and others to start in three-receiver sets in 2020 behind Deebo Samuel. With nine touchdowns in his last two seasons with the Niners, the 24-year-old has proven to be a nice red-zone presence for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but it remains to be seen if he can become a consistent starting option. There will be plenty of competition at the receiver position in San Fran, and they're also likely to address the position in the draft.
Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said that the team has "had internal discussions" about an extension for running back Christian McCaffrey. The stud running back is heading into the final year of his rookie deal, but the Panthers may wait and have him play on the fifth-year team option in 2021 before signing him to a long-term extension. Whether or not McCaffrey is playing with a new deal or not, he should be the No. 1 overall fantasy selection this fall. The 23-year-old former eighth overall pick ran the ball 287 times for a career-high 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns, while also catching 116 passes for 1,005 yards and another four scores.
Updating a previous report, free-agent S D.J. Swearinger (Saints) officially signed with the New Orleans Saints Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent WR Emmanuel Sanders (49ers) officially signed with the New Orleans Saints Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Fantasy Spin: Sanders is joining one of the top offenses in the NFL and should see a solid amount of targets in 2020. He can be a No. 3 or No. 4 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Updating previous reports, free-agent TE Richard Rodgers (Eagles) and CB Ronald Darby (Eagles) officially signed with the Washington Redskins Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent DE Benson Mayowa (Raiders) officially signed with the Seattle Seahawks Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Updating previous reports, free-agent FB Anthony Sherman (Chiefs) and DT Mike Pennel (Chiefs) officially re-signed with the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent DT Jordan Phillips (Bills) officially signed with the Arizona Cardinals Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent WR Geronimo Allison (Packers) officially signed with the Detroit Lions Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent RB Todd Gurley (Rams) officially signed with the Atlanta Falcons Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Fantasy Spin: Gurley will be the main running back for the Falcons next season and likely will be a weekly starting option in most fantasy leagues.
Miami Dolphins restricted free-agent LB Vince Biegel signed his one-year tender offer Monday, April 6. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent DE Cassius Marsh (Cardinals) officially signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent CB Rashaan Melvin (Lions) officially signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Updating a previous report, free-agent LB Patrick Onwuasor (Ravens) officially signed with the New York Jets Monday, April 6. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey could be a candidate for a contract extension in the near future, according to general manager Marty Hurney.
Fantasy Spin: McCaffrey is one of the top players in the NFL and should receive a lucrative extension at some point. He likely will be the first overall pick in most fantasy leagues in 2020.
Free-agent DT Carl Davis (Jaguars) re-signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars Monday, April 6. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) said his recovery is going fine and that he believes he would have been able to participate in some offseason workouts.
Fantasy Spin: Roethlisberger miss most of the 2019 season because of elbow surgery but appears to be on track for training camp and the 2020 season. He has played well over the last few seasons and could be a low-end No. 1 quarterback in fantasy leagues.