INDIANAPOLIS — Darius Leonard sounded refreshed and ready to get back to work on Monday.
The Indianapolis Colts rookie weakside linebacker missed his first NFL game on Thursday due to an ankle injury but suggested he could have suited up if the game at New England were on Sunday.
“I think so,” Leonard said. “If it was Sunday, I would have been fine.”
The Colts (1-4) were so banged up in their 38-24 road loss to the Patriots, they had just 44 active players, two fewer than allowed. And left tackle Anthony Castonzo, who didn’t play and has yet to do so this year due to a hamstring injury, was strictly an emergency player.
Then, several players were injured in Thursday’s game, most notably defensive tackle Denico Autry (hamstring), linebacker Anthony Walker (concussion), safety Clayton Geathers (neck/concussion) and safety Matthias Farley (hamstring).
As the Colts look to snap a three-game losing streak with another road game at the New York Jets (2-3) on Sunday, a recurring question will focus on who will be healthy enough to return.
“We’ll have to sort through everything for the next couple days,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said. “We had a little extra rest, obviously guys get a little extra rest, all of us get a little extra rest, but also a little jump start on the Jets.”
He later added, “We’ve got to win with the guys we have.”
While determinations for several players won’t be known until late in the week, Reich said cornerbacks Kenny Moore II and Quincy Wilson are in the league-mandated concussion protocol for a second consecutive week.
Leonard and cornerback Nate Hairston (hamstring) were game-time decisions last Thursday, Reich said, and the team decided to play it safe.
The defense needs Leonard, a second-round pick who was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month last week. Despite missing the game, Leonard still leads the league with 54 total tackles. His 38 solo tackles rank second.
“It was very hard,” he said of being sidelined, “especially with how well I was doing, and you think you’re clicking on all cylinders, then you get a minor setback.”
Leonard said he “should be” ready for Sunday.
Wide receiver Chester Rogers conceded his gassed team welcomed last weekend off after playing two games in five days.
“Mentally and physically, we needed that. We were drained,” Rogers said. “We played two games in a four- or five-day span. That’s crazy, especially in the NFL. We needed that break. We regroup. We’ve got another day off [Tuesday], then it’s all about the Jets.”
QB Andrew Luck has completed 163-of-245 passes, the most in a player’s first five games since 1950. He’s on pace for 784 pass attempts, which would shatter the league mark of 727 set by Detroit’s Matthew Stafford in 2012. He’s also on pace for 521 completions, which would shatter Drew Brees‘ league record of 471 in 2016. “It’s killing me to have to throw this much,” Reich said. “I know you can’t sustain this.”
TE Eric Ebron, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, had a career-high 105 yards receiving and two touchdowns at New England. He has a team-high five touchdowns.
WR T.Y. Hilton, who didn’t participate in walk-throughs last week and sat out Thursday with chest and hamstring injuries, didn’t take part in Monday’s light workout. His status is uncertain for Sunday.
T Braden Smith, a rookie second-round pick who played guard at Auburn, became the team’s fifth different starting tackle when he made his first NFL start at right tackle. “Braden played well,” Reich said. “Tough situation, being thrown out there at the last minute. He did a really nice job. I think he exceeded expectations at that spot.”
S Malik Hooker, a 2017 first-round selection, led the Colts with 12 tackles against the Patriots.