Who is the Guy?
Shaquille Leonard has been in and out of the lineup due to an assortment of injuries but the All-Pro linebacker remains one of the most dominant defenders in the game. The fifth-year pro is a diagnostic marvel with the ability to anticipate, react and disrupt plays at the point of attack. Whether he blows up runs between the tackles or floats down the seam to swat passes away from tight ends and slot receivers, Leonard makes his presence known as a dominant playmaker between the hashes.
Don't Sleep On…
Do not let the Colts' appearance overshadow DeForest Buckner's dominance at the line of scrimmage. The 6-foot-7, 295-pounder is an athletic interior disruptor with a combination of strength, power and explosiveness that overwhelms blockers at the point. With 38 tackles and five sacks as the focal point of a defense that prioritizes four-man pressures, the Colts' standout defensive lineman is the straw that stirs the drink for Gus Bradley's defense.
Know His Name
While Jonathan Taylor has not put up the numbers commensurate with his status as a top 5 running back, the former NFL rushing leader remains the Colts' most dangerous offensive weapon. As an old-school power runner with superior size and speed, Taylor is a rare sledgehammer with big play potential as an inside runner. Although he is averaging fewer than 100 rushing yards per game (77.0) on the season, the all-star runner is a few big plays away from reminding the football world of his greatness as dynamic RB1.
Jeff Saturday is in the Colts' Ring of Honor, but a great playing career does not guarantee success as a coach on the sideline. The inexperienced leader is tasked with reversing the fortunes of an underachieving squad. Despite his impressive cast of mentors (SEE: Tony Dungy and Howard Mudd), the former All-Pro could find it a lot harder to impact the game as a coach than a player.
Numbers Game: 17
Look no further than the Colts' 17 giveaways as the reason for the team's sub-.500 record. The Colts rank last in turnovers and their inability to protect the football has given their opponents prime field position and scoring opportunities.
Matchup To Watch: Stephon Gilmore vs. Davante Adams
The battle between the Colts' CB1 and Raiders' WR1 is must-see TV based on the spectacular skills that each player brings to the field. Gilmore is a polished technician with outstanding instincts, awareness and ball skills who perfectly suits the Colts' hybrid three-deep scheme. With Adams capable of threatening the veteran defender's technique with an assortment of releases and creative routes, the winner of this one-on-one matchup could lead their team to the winner's circle.
Who knows what the Colts will run after Frank Reich's dismissal as the head coach/offensive coordinator? Saturday steps in as the interim head coach but he is entrusting the play calling to a 30-year-old assistant (Parks Frazier) making his debut as an offensive coordinator. Although Frazier knows the scheme based on experience as Reich's apprentice, it is hard to expect the first-time playcaller to hit the ground running in his debut.
Gus Bradley has installed a "bend but don't break" defense that limits big plays by taking away the deep ball. The veteran defensive architect will test the patience and discipline of the quarterback with an assortment of soft zones that concede checkdowns and underneath throws while squashing all vertical routes. If the quarterback refuses to resist the temptation to push the ball down the field, the turnovers could come in bunches with defenders flying to the ball from their spot drops.
Head inside Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center to view the best photos from Thursday's practice.