Behind Enemy Lines

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Behind Enemy Lines: A Look at the Indianapolis Colts

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NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night at Nissan Stadium.

Here's a quick look at the Colts:

Record: 5-3.

Last game: Ravens 24, Colts 10.

Points for/against: 26.0/20.0 ppg.

NFL RANKINGS

Offense: 18th overall, 360.5 ypg (23rd rushing, 14th passing).

Defense: 1st overall, 290.0 (3rd rushing, 3rd passing).

TEAM LEADERS

Head coach: Frank Reich.

Offense:

QB: Philip Rivers (186-of-274, 2,087 yards, 10 TDs, 7 INTs, 91.9 rating).

Top RB: Jonathan Taylor (106 carries, 416 yards, 4 TDs).

Top WR: Zach Pascal (24 catches, 297 yards, 2 TDs).

Top TE: Trey Burton (15 catches, 122 yards, 1 TD).

Defense:

Sacks: DE Denico Autrey (5).

Leading tackler: LB Darius Leonard (51).

Interceptions: Many with 2.

Take/Give: +4 (13/9).

Kicker: Rodrigo Blackenship (17-of-19 FGs, 19-of-21 PATs).

Punter: Rigoberto Sanchez 47.5 (41.0).

Last meeting: December 1, 2019: Titans 31, Colts 17

Of note:

-Colts tight end Jack Doyle was originally signed by the Titans as a free agent in 2013. He attended Western Kentucky University.

-Colts receiver Zach Pascal signed to the Titans practice squad in Week One of 2017-18 season before being claimed off waivers by the Colts.

-Colts tight ends coach Jason Michael was with the Titans for four seasons, serving as the club's offensive coordinator (2014-15) and quarterbacks coach (2016-17).

-Titans cornerback Chris Milton played for the Colts from 2016-18.

-Titans guard/center Jamil Douglas spent a week on the Colts practice squad at the beginning of the 2018 season.

-Titans running back Jeremy McNichols spent time with the Colts in 2018 on the practice squad as well as on the 53-man roster.

Injury Report

LB Matthews Adams (not-injury related)

TE Mo Alie-Cox (knee)

TE Jack Doyle (concussion)

WR T.Y. Hilton (groin)

Colts HC Frank Reich …

(on the challenge of playing on a short week and the challenge of facing the Titans)

The challenge of playing on Thursday night is it's really physical. It's really getting the guys healthy and ready to play a grueling physical game Sunday to Thursday, and then from the coach's standpoint, obviously the shorter turnaround time for preparation for a gameplan. But the good news is we've all done this, players and coaches. It's part of our routine in this league, and quite honestly I enjoy it. I enjoy it. It's a different kind of a rhythm to it and I think we've all really grown accustom to how we've got to prepare ourselves in a week like this. Secondly, as far as the Titans, just really look forward to coming and playing a division team, a great football team, an extremely well-coached team. Obviously, a team that has established itself as really the top team in our division, and so it's a challenge for us to come on the road at their place and play a team that is good in all three phases. We'll do our best to get ready for the game.

(on having a threatening vertical receiver and what that skill does for a receiver-quarterback tandem)

That's a unique threat. It's a game-changing threat. When you've got a guy who is good run after catch, but also has the speed to be explosive down the field, you can't just come up. If he's run after catch guy, sometimes the answer is just come up, try to play tight coverage, keep him from getting the ball, contest every throw. But then you do that and now he can go vertical on you. So, it just creates problems for defenses when you've got a guy who has both of those dimensions, who's both great run after catch and also a vertical threat.

(on how that concept applies to wide receiver A.J. Brown emerging as a vertical threat)

There's no doubt. I think he and (Ryan) Tannehill have really emerged as a dangerous duo in this league and I have all the respect in the world for both of them. (A.J.) Brown has just been playing lights out. He's proven to be, like you said, you've always seen how dangerous he is with the ball in his hand, how physical he is, but also now with the play action game and getting the ball vertical down the field, that makes it tougher for defenses to handle.

(on playing a divisional opponent a short week and twice in two weeks)

I don't mind it. It's the same for both teams. Be it the fact that it's a quick turnaround, in some ways it's an advantage that it's a team that you know a little bit about. Obviously playing them twice a year, we know each other. So, we know what we're trying to do on offense and defense and special teams, so that actually helps the preparation but it's the same for both teams. As far as playing twice in three weeks, it's fine. When the schedule comes out, I look at it like it is what it is, and so I try to look at it like anything that comes out in the schedule is to our advantage. 'Oh, you want us to play the Titans twice in three weeks? That's to our advantage.' 'You want us to play – that's to our advantage,' keep that positive mindset that whatever circumstances are thrown your way, just take the positive angle and approach to it.

(on how Head Coach Mike Vrabel has done in his head coaching career and if Vrabel's coaching style reminds him of Vrabel as a player)

No doubt, physically and mentally tough. I've gotten to know coach (Mike) Vrabel a little bit over the last three years, obviously coached in the same division and have really a ton of respect for him. You see how well-coached they are from a penalty standpoint. You see how well they are coached from a situational standpoint. He has those guys prepared for the little things, and then just as a competitor. You know Mike (Vrabel) is a competitor, and you feel like that team sees that and understands that, and you take that on into your personality, so I have a ton of respect for Mike (Vrabel).

(on what stands out about the Titans pass rush)

They've got nice blitz packages. They mix them up real well. They disguise well. They have relentless effort. Like I said, good packages and good players. I do think they're really good up front. There's no quote unquote weak links, not that there's many in this league anyway, but certainly not on this team.

Titans HC Mike Vrabel….

(on Colts quarterback Philip Rivers' career and the challenge he presents)

He's been able to play at a high level for a long period of time. These franchise quarterbacks that don't miss games, they're durable, they're available, very productive, and then really, you're not going to be able to fool him. You're not going to be able to disguise him, so he knows what you're doing. He's studying, very smart, very accurate with the football, so we'll have to try to find ways to disrupt him.

(on what stands out about the effectiveness of the Colts run defense)

I think they're good tacklers. They're long. They're active up front. They mix in movement. They mix in base. They'll have some run pressures. They're good tacklers. The tacklers can run, they're fast. Sometimes the movement makes it tough to get guys to the second level. They'll force when they have to, and in cover two stuff. Good length up front. They've got a really good front and again they're sound throughout. But really good tackling football team.

(on if Colts linebacker Darius Leonard got better after defensive lineman DeForest Buckner joined the Colts)

(DeForest Buckner) is unique. He's got great length, great athletic ability. If he gets his hands on you, he keeps guys away from you. I don't know how many guys he necessarily eats up for Darius (Leonard). Darius (Leonard), he can handle blockers on his own. He can slip them, and he can chop and shake, so (DeForest Buckner)'s not a space-eater. He's and active and disruptive player who's been very productive.

(on Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and the offense with him in the lineup)

It's not any different. The offense isn't any different, it's just that his ability, his route running – you have to be very good in coverage, you've got to be perfect in your technique, he's threat. I don't think the plays change, maybe the way he runs routes may be different. Conceptually, I haven't seen much different. They're willing to spread the football around and get a lot of guys involved, which is a testament to Frank (Reich) and Nick (Sirianni) and obviously Philip (Riviers) to find finding the guy that is open and knowing where to go with the football no matter who it is. That's the best thing you could ask him to do, is to find the guy that's open, give him the ball, be accurate, and give the guys an opportunity to run after the catch. We'll have to be prepared for T.Y. (Hilton) if he's in there, but there's a lot of guys that we'll have to pay attention to.

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