"Bradshaw is a very good third-down back and he's a very good running back, too," Jaguars defensive coordinator Bob Babich said. "I think he was the third-leading receiver and he had a bunch of touchdowns. I think that they will miss that loss, obviously."
Bradshaw has rushed for 425 yards and two touchdowns and averaged 4.7 yards per carry. He has caught 38 passes for 300 yards and six touchdowns.
Trent Richardson has not exactly flourished since the Colts acquired him in a trade with Cleveland before Week 3 of the 2013 season. He has rushed for 849 yards and five touchdowns on 271 carries in 24 games, which works out to just 35.4 yards per game. He is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry in those games as well.
One of his better games this season came against the Jaguars, however. He ran for 57 yards on 14 carries in the Colts’ 44-17 victory in Week 3. Bradshaw had 65 yards on nine carries and the Colts ran for 144 yards.
It should be an easier task for the Jaguars to deal with Richardson and Dan Herron, a second-year back who has run for 74 yards on 22 carries this season.
The reason the Colts won that day is the same reason they won the previous three meetings: Andrew Luck. He torched the Jaguars for 370 yards and four touchdowns, completing 31-of-39 passes. In the four games since the Jaguars won in their first matchup with Luck in 2012, the former Stanford standout has completed 7.01 percent of his passes for 1,136 yards and seven touchdowns with two interceptions against the Jaguars.
Jacksonville will be breaking in another rookie in the secondary: nickelback Aaron Colvin, who will make his pro debut after rehabbing a torn ACL. Plus, the Jaguars will be without their best defender (linebacker Paul Posluszny) and pass rusher (Andre Branch). Unless Blake Bortles is up for a shootout -- which seems unlikely, as the Jaguars lost leading receiver Allen Robinson for the season with a stress fracture in his foot -- the Jaguars are going to have another long day.
My prediction: Indianapolis 35, Jacksonville 17
This time it includes something the Jaguars have not yet tried this season: moving weakside linebacker Geno Hayes to the Otto spot. The Otto, which replaces the strongside linebacker in the Jaguars’ defense, lines up close to the line of scrimmage and can rush the passer or drop in coverage depending on the play.
"It’s new for him," coach Gus Bradley said. "Geno is pretty sharp and some of the techniques that we’re asking him to do he’s done before so he has some recall."
Hayes is fifth on the team in tackles (33), but he hasn’t made many impact plays. He has five tackles for loss but no quarterback pressures, interceptions, forced fumbles, or fumble recoveries. He is a seventh-year veteran who has started 66 games, which makes him the team’s most experienced linebacker now that Paul Posluszny (torn pectoral) is done for the season.
"He’s done a good job," defensive coordinator Bob Babich said. "I had him in Chicago [in 2012] and I’m very proud of the effort and the attitude. He’s now the old man on the linebackers unit so he’s accepted that role and has flourished in it so we’re excited about what he’s doing."
With Hayes at Otto, the Jaguars’ plan to start fourth-year player J.T. Thomas in the middle and rookie Telvin Smith on weak side. If the Jaguars are in nickel they’ll either pair Thomas with Smith or Hayes with Smith depending on the coverage.
The Jaguars would like to use rookie Jeremiah George in the middle but he is expected to miss his second game in a row because of a high ankle sprain he suffered against Cincinnati on Nov. 2.
The Jaguars are eagerly anticipating tight end Marcedes Lewis' return on Sunday, writes the Florida Times-Union's Hays Carlyon. The 6-foot-6, 272-pound Lewis will help in the run game and be a bigger target for rookie quarterback Blake Bortles. "He’s obviously a dominant force in pass protection and in run blocking," offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. "But, the target that he gives us in the passing game is something that we don’t have. We don’t have someone with that kind of size and range, so to be able to get him back is huge for us."
Gus Bradley liked Thursday's spirited practice, which included a couple of minor scuffles, writes the T-U's Vito Stellino. Bradley wouldn't give up the names, though.
ESPN NFL Nation Colts reporter Mike Wells writes that three starters -- right tackle Gosder Cherilus, cornerback Greg Toler, and tight end Dwayne Allen -- missed practice on Thursday. Allen is likely out. Toler has to go through the NFL's concussion protocol before he can practice so he's likely out, too.
After several days of missing him in the open locker room period, I was finally able to catch up with cornerback Aaron Colvin on Thursday. The Jaguars are just as eager to see what he can do as he is to finally get on the field as he is to make his debut on Sunday at Indianapolis. Colvin will play mainly as a nickelback. It has been a long road for the rookie from Oklahoma, who tore his ACL during the Senior Bowl.
The Jaguars are going to try out a new lineup at linebacker this weekend, one that includes Geno Smith playing some at Otto (a position where the linebacker is up on the line of scrimmage and either rushes the passer or goes back in coverage). Rookie Telvin Smith may get some snaps there, too.
Stopping the run is always the defense's first priority. It should be a little easier this week because the Colts won't have Ahmad Bradshaw (broken leg) and Trent Richardson hasn't exactly flourished.
My prediction for Sunday's game will post at 1 p.m. ET
This week’s question, in honor of the 26 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists being released: Would you rather have a Hall of Fame career but never win a Super Bowl or be an average player with a four-to-five year career and win a Super Bowl?
It’s tempting to take Hall of Fame career, isn’t it? You get the jacket, the bust in Canton.
Gerhart: "Oh yeah, for sure. You’d go down as one of the greatest. If you’re in the Hall of Fame you’re one of the greatest to ever play the game. That’s special, too. That’d be a tough one but I’m going to go with the Super Bowl."
"I’ll be honest with you I’d probably be a Hall of Fame career."
You’re right, it is an elite club.
Shorts: "Yes. Absolutely. It’s very rare to get in the Hall of Fame. This is how Cris Carter put it to me, you cannot tell the story of the game without your name being in it, and that’s very significant to me. If you cannot tell the story of the game without my name being in it, that’s something I would like to be a part of. That’s why I’ll choose the Hall of Fame."
Marks: "It’s kind of hard to answer. You don’t want to be selfish, but it boils down to how you play individually within the team. You could be a guy that comes in and never plays a down and wins a Super Bowl ring. Say you get drafted in New England and you go to Seattle and you play there and you get cut in the offseason and you go to Denver and you go back to another Super Bowl. You can be a guy that goes through that and never really contributes. You could be a guy that played in the Super Bowl that actually didn’t do well but your team won. So I think overall, as a personal question, I’d rather be a guy who was a Hall of Famer that plays his best individually within the team and not win a Super Bowl than win Super Bowls and you probably haven’t done anything."
If you’re a Hall of Famer you’re one of the best to ever play the game.
Sanders: "That’s tough. You know if you did make it to the Hall of Fame, obviously your career was [great]. When you start thinking about all that stuff, it’s like, yeah, you made it to the Hall of Fame but you didn’t get the ultimate prize. I feel like they could point that out on both ends. ‘Yeah, you got a Super Bowl ring but I’m in the Hall of Fame.’ ‘Yeah, you’re in the Hall of Fame but I got a ring.’ That’s tough."
"I love playing football. I love the brotherhood and the bond that’s up here. Outside of winning the Super Bowl or being in the Hall of Fame I would want to continue to do this for as long as I could. That’s truly what’s most important to me. Super Ball, Hall of Fame, whatever comes with that is fine but I like being up here."
Blackmon entered the plea in Edmond, Oklahoma, Municipal Court. If he does not commit any crimes in the next six months, the charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct, the newspaper reported.
He did not speak to the media but his attorney, Robert Gray, told Judge Diane Slayton that Blackmon had recently completed a voluntary drug rehab program.
Blackmon was arrested on July 23 in Edmond after police officers stopped him for a traffic violation and could smell the odor of marijuana coming from his car.
If Bortles cleans up his fundamentals, limits his mistakes, and adjusts to the speed of the game, the Jaguars could be a playoff team rather quickly. If not, they could continue to be one of the league’s worst teams and spending a lot more time at the bottom of the AFC South.
In other words, it’s all about that Blake.
The idea struck when he and his son Paul-Reid were running errands during the Jaguars’ home game against Indianapolis on Sept. 21. Paul-Reid stayed in the car during one stop and when Scott returned, his son told him that Chad Henne had been benched and Bortles had begun the second half.
"For whatever reason, maybe I had heard that song, I remember saying, 'Oh, it’s all about that Blake, about that Blake,'" Scott said. "... It pretty much wrote itself. Once you get the title you go, 'Oh yeah, we’ve got to go with this one.'"
Scott produced the song, and he voices most of the backing tracks. Paul-Reid, who works at Jacksonville sports talk station SportsRadio 930 AM, sings background vocals. Hillary Borden, a promotional assistant at WQIK, sings the lead.
Bortles hadn’t heard it until Wednesday. He seemed a bit sheepish, as well as amused, by it.
"It’s weird," he said. "I don’t know a lot of people who like songs about themselves.
"It’s kind of cool that somebody took the time to do it."
Scott said the Jax Big Show tries to come up with a parody song each month, and the Bortles parody has generated the most positive feedback in a long time.
"For parody songs you want to hit what’s hot or universal," Scott said. "That’s why Weird Al [Yankovic] made so much money singing about food. It’s universal. The Jaguars are pretty much universal [in Jacksonville].
"It was the best response we’ve had in years because everybody was excited about [Bortles]. ... It hit at the right time, and it’s all about timing when it comes to things like this."
Robinson among league’s best
A better indicator of how effective Robinson has been for the Jaguars is his yards per carry. He’s averaging 5.4 yards on 72 carries in his last four games, which is the fourth-highest total among all players and third-highest total among running backs.
The top five:
QB Russell Wilson, Seattle: 8.14 yards per carry (350 yards on 43 carries)
RB Arian Foster, Houston: 5.62 yards per carry (309 yards on 55 carries)
RB Jamaal Charles, Kansas City: 5.46 yards per carry (497 yards on 91 carries)
Robinson: 5.40 yards per carry (389 yards on 72 carries)
RB DeMarco Murray, Dallas: 5.27 yards per carry (448 yards on 85 carries)
Robinson’s numbers for the first six weeks: 94 yards on 28 carries (3.36 yards per carry).
"For Denard, you’ve got to give him all the credit, and the coaching staff, for his development," Jaguars GM David Caldwell said. "Over the offseason he got serious about football, gained about 20 pounds, maintained his weight and he’s just going to continue to get better. I think there’s even a higher ceiling for him than where he’s at now."
The Associated Press' Mark Long writes that the Jaguars are expecting a boost from the return of tight end Marcedes Lewis, who has spent the past nine weeks on the short-term IR because of a high-ankle sprain. The Jaguars certainly need his help: They're ranked 27th in the league in total offense and 31st in scoring.
The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran discusses whether the Jaguars can get their offense back on track this week against Indianapolis.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is 11-1 in games immediately following a loss, which makes the Jaguars' task on Sunday even tougher than it normally is when they play the Colts, writes the T-U's Vito Stellino. The Jaguars have lost four in a row to Indianapolis and Luck has thrown for at least 300 yards in eight consecutive games.
Cornerback Dwayne Gratz apologized on Wednesday for his Sunday morning arrest for disorderly intoxication and trespassing.
Indianapolis Colts reporter Mike Wells and I preview Sunday's matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium.
With the release of the semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 on Wednesday, I went with a Hall of Fame theme for the Question of the Week. I asked five players if they'd rather have a Hall of Fame career that didn't include a Super Bowl victory or an average career of five or six years that did include a Super Bowl title. There were some interesting answers.
The Stat of the Week has to do with Denard Robinson's production since taking over as the Jaguars' primary running back in Week 7.
INDIANAPOLIS -- What better way to get back on track than facing a team that has struggled all season?
The Indianapolis Colts, losers of two of their last three games, have an opportunity to rebound from an embarrassing 22-point loss at home to the New England Patriots last weekend when the face the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9). The Jaguars are in the midst of a three-game losing streak.
The Colts beat Jacksonville 44-17 in Week 3.
ESPN.com Colts reporter Mike Wells and Jaguars reporter Mike DiRocco discuss Sunday’s game.
Wells: Quarterback Blake Bortles made his regular-season debut when he replaced Chad Henne against the Colts in late September. Where is he in his development, and is there confidence within the organization that he has the necessary tools to lead the franchise in the future?
DiRocco: The last six games will be important for Bortles, because it will give GM David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley an indication of where he is in his development. Bortles has thrown an NFL-high 14 interceptions in the first 10 games, and the Jaguars want to see him average less than one per game over the last six. The Jaguars are pleased with Bortles’ understanding of the offense, his poise in the pocket and his confidence, especially the way he bounces back after throwing interceptions. They want to see improvement in his decision-making. He has thrown four pick-sixes and three interceptions in the red zone. They don’t want to see him throwing across his body any more, either. Even with those issues, Caldwell and Bradley have no doubts about Bortles being the player to lead the franchise over the next decade.
Losing Ahmad Bradshaw to a fractured ankle obviously will impact the running game. Does this mean it will be the Trent Richardson show from now on, and can the Colts rely on him to provide the balance the offense needs to keep teams from ganging up on Andrew Luck?
Wells: It’s put-up-or-shut-up time for Richardson. He shared the workload with Bradshaw in the nine games they played together, but now he’ll be the workhorse in the backfield. That’s kind of a scary thought when you take into account that Richardson rushed for zero yards on seven carries against the Patriots last weekend. Richardson and general manager Ryan Grigson have a lot on the line, because there’s no excuse for Richardson not to be effective. He has been in the system for more than a year and no longer has to split carries. Produce and it will soften the blow of Richardson’s inconsistent play the past year. Struggle and the questions continue as to why Grigson gave up a first-round draft pick for a player who hasn’t been worth it so far.
Denard Robinson is a familiar name to people up here in Big 10 country from his playing days at Michigan. I see that he leads the Jags in rushing. Why has the transition from quarterback to running back worked for him?
DiRocco: The most important thing is that he has always been dynamic with the ball in his hands, which we saw on a consistent basis at Michigan. He’s got good speed, vision and elusiveness in the open field. What he had to learn was how to carry the ball as a running back, which means adjusting to carrying the ball inside, reading blocks at the line of scrimmage to hit the hole and knowing that defenses are accounting for you on every play. It’s the opposite as a quarterback. Robinson added about 10 pounds to his frame in the offseason, and that has shown in the way he is running behind his pads. He’s running through arm tackles and pushing tacklers backward. This is just Robinson’s first season as a running back, so there is more room for development.
Losing to the Patriots the way they did at home indicates the Colts aren't quite ready to be considered a serious contender in the AFC. What pieces do they need to get there?
Wells: You’re right, the Colts can’t be taken as serious as contenders in the AFC, yet. Where do I start with their area of concerns? The offensive line has not progressed. The line is at fault, too, for the problems in the running game. Things changed once they replaced A.Q. Shipley at center with undrafted free agent Jonotthan Harrison. They averaged 118 yards a game rushing with Shipley starting at center, and they're only averaging 95 yards a game rushing with Harrison starting. That’s one. The defensive line was supposed to be improved with the addition of Arthur Jones. It has been fine with Jones on the field. The issue, though, is that Jones has played less than three games this season because of an ankle injury. The Colts could be looking for two new starting safeties in the offseason, because veteran Mike Adams is a free agent, and there’s no reason to believe LaRon Landry, who has been demoted, will be brought back next season.
Sticking with the running game, the Patriots gashed the Colts up for 244 yards last weekend. The Jaguars rushed for 105 yards against Indy earlier this season. Do you think they’ll try to copy what the Patriots did, or will they let Bortles fling the ball around the field to try to pull off the upset?
DiRocco: The Jaguars are striving for balance, not only because the Colts might be susceptible against the run but because they want to take some pressure off Bortles. Tight end Marcedes Lewis returns from a high ankle sprain this week, and that’s a big help in the running game. Lewis is one of the league’s better blocking tight ends and does a good job of setting the edge. One of the Jaguars’ biggest goals over the final six games is to cut down on turnovers, and that means Bortles taking more calculated risks. Bortles will have to make several plays in the passing game, but the Jaguars aren’t going to put the entire game on his shoulders.
It looks like the Colts haven't had a lot of success stopping the tight end this season, but Jaguars tight ends caught just one pass in the earlier meeting. Lewis wasn't playing then, and this will be his first game back. Why have the Colts had issues with tight ends?
Wells: Their linebackers aren’t fast enough to stay with opposing tight ends, and their safeties aren’t strong enough for them. Watch the video clip of New England’s Rob Gronkowski manhandling Sergio Brown on the sideline last weekend for further proof of that. Opposing quarterbacks recognize the mismatch and take advantage of it. Tight ends on Denver, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New England all had effective games against the Colts. Indianapolis just doesn’t have the personnel capable of matching up with the athletic tight ends that play in the NFL these days.
"He's going to have to step up his game in terms of study habits and his preparation," Fisch said. "... I think it will be a great opportunity for him to roll. He'll have six weeks to really get in a rhythm and get going."
Lee has just 13 catches for 131 yards and hasn't caught more than one pass in a game since an Oct. 12 loss to Tennessee. He was supposed to be a much bigger part of the offense all season, but the second-round pick from USC battled hamstring issues during OTAs and training camp and wasn't able to do much during the preseason. He struggled to pick up the offense and had problems with route adjustments, knowing where he was supposed to be on certain plays, and running consistent routes.
Lee said he has gained a better understanding of the playbook over the last month.
"I've got Cecil [Shorts] here and Hurns here to help me, so at the end of the day, I think I'll be prepared," he said.
That's good, because he's going to get more work. Fisch said the best way to utilize Lee is to get him the ball with quick throws and let him use his speed to make plays after the catch. They'll likely take a few deep shots with him, too, but the bulk of his work will be in the short passing game.
Lee says that's fine with him because he wants to prove that he can contribute more than just an occasional catch.
"Being reliable [is important]," he said. "Being out there and when the ball comes my way or a run comes my way, just me doing my job and handling my business."
"We talk about that all the time, all about the ball, and just continue to have a conscience about it and protect it and take care of it," Bortles said Wednesday. "You don't need to be timid with it, especially playing quarterback, but you've got to be smart with it and understand when to take shots and when not to.
"Things are going to happen, you're going to get some bad breaks and turnovers are going to happen. You want to limit those and definitely try to not turn it over so much."
The Jaguars have committed 22 turnovers and have a minus-11 turnover ratio through 10 games, numbers that both rank next-to-last in the NFL. A bigger issue is that six of Bortles' 14 interceptions have come inside the opponents' 45-yard line, including five inside the 25.
Overall, though, Bortles has cut down his turnovers over the last two games. He threw a combined five interceptions in back-to-back weeks against Cleveland and Miami but threw just one each against Cincinnati and Dallas. Unfortunately, both came inside the opponents' 25.
"We're down to one [per game over the last two games] so I guess you could say that's getting better, but the goal is to have none," Bortles said. "You don't want to turn the ball over at all especially playing quarterback in this league. It's hard to do and that's something we continue to work on and it's a work in progress."
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said the Jaguars are getting Bortles to be more conscious of down, distance, time on the clock, score, and score differential in his decision making. Trailing by double digits late in the fourth quarter is the time to take more chances, not when the game is tied midway through the third. It's something they worked on pretty heavily in Wednesday's practice.
"When he gets into those situations, I think the challenge for him is just to play and not think too much," Bradley said. "I think what we want him to do when he gets into the team situations is just play with that clear mind. It's hard though. Make good decisions, but play with freedom. Don't throw interceptions, but be fearless. It almost feels contradictory at times.
"He's figuring it out and I know today in practice, he did some really good things and then some things he wish he had back. It was more good today, so that was good."