INDIANAPOLIS — A sense of accomplishment about a five-game winning streak was tempered on Monday by the news that the Indianapolis Colts will finish the season without tight end Jack Doyle.
The 28-year-old Indianapolis native was placed on injured reserve after suffering a kidney injury that required a hospital procedure on Sunday night. Colts head coach Frank Reich said Doyle is recuperating well and the prognosis is positive.
The fifth-year pro sustained the injury in Sunday’s 27-24 home win over Miami, in which he caught a 1-yard touchdown pass.
“He was admitted to the hospital last night and had a procedure to control the injury,” Reich said. “He is doing well. The prognosis is good, but we are going to have to place him on injured reserve. So we have been in communication with him. We are expecting him to be released from the hospital soon.”
Formerly an undrafted rookie claimed off waivers from Tennessee in 2013, Doyle gradually worked his way into a starting role as a solid blocker and effective pass catcher and earned his first Pro Bowl nod with a career-best 80 catches for 690 yards last season.
But Doyle’s numbers had dropped off this year due to a five-game absence with a hip injury and the arrival of free-agent Eric Ebron, who is tied for the NFL lead with 11 touchdown receptions. Doyle had 26 catches for 245 yards and two TDs.
"I think it was late in the third quarter,” Reich said of when Doyle suffered the injury. “He ran a little stick route and took a pretty big hit. (He) came off (and) told the trainers, ‘Hey, (I) took a big hit.’ He came back in (and) tried to play I think two or three plays, but couldn’t do it and came off. Then he was out the rest of the game – the rest of the fourth quarter.”
The Colts had just two healthy tight ends entering the game. Mo Alie-Cox, Erik Swoope and Ryan Hewitt were sidelined for Sunday. Reich sounded optimistic that they could be back this week.
“I sure hope,” the coach said. “We are hopeful and optimistic that some of those guys – one or two or all three of those guys – will be ready. We will have to take it day-to-day on them, but they have been making good progress.”
Although the Colts (6-5) are enjoying their longest win streak since 2014, the most recent triumph came with another costly injury as starting running back Marlon Mack suffered a concussion. Reich said Mack is in the concussion protocol, which means the second-year pro’s status for Sunday’s game at Jacksonville (3-8) is uncertain.
While the next AFC South Division game is of vital importance for the Colts’ playoff push, another development Monday night could also impact Sunday’s game as the NFL suspended Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette for the game due to his ejection for unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness in a loss at Buffalo. The Jaguars have lost seven in a row.
If Mack can’t play, the Colts will rely upon rookie running backs Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins, who have shown promising potential but with ball-control issues. Mack has a team-best 556 yards rushing on 109 carries (5.1 ypc) with four TDs. Hines has gained 283 yards on 69 carries (4.1 ypc) with one score and is the team’s third-leading receiver with 40 catches for 248 yards and two TDs. Wilkins is averaging 5.6 yards per carry with 318 on 57 attempts and one TD. He’s caught 13 passes for 74 yards.
Reich alluded to the obvious about the rigors of the NFL when asked about Doyle’s injury.
“It’s a physical game – there’s no getting around it,” he said. “Every player who plays and that has played knows that that’s part of the risk that they take. But again, I always put it in context, there are a lot of other jobs out there in the world that are dangerous, you know? It’s dangerous being a fireman. It’s dangerous being a policeman. So there are risks that you take playing this game and certainly this injury was unfortunate for Jack (Doyle), but he’ll be fine.”
Reich said it’s too soon to ascertain if center Ryan Kelly, who missed Sunday’s game with a knee injury, can return against the Jaguars.
Rookie weakside linebacker Darius Leonard, whose NFL-leading 114 total tackles are 17 more than the next player, suffered a knee injury on the game’s first play but returned. Reich said Leonard didn’t encounter any complications. The second-round selection had 10 tackles and his team-leading sixth sack.
— Ebron’s two scoring receptions on Sunday means he’s now caught as many touchdown passes (11) with the Colts in 11 games this season as he had in four years with Detroit. He’s also had a touchdown run. He’s tied with Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill for the league lead in reception scores. Ebron’s 11 TD receptions tie Dallas Clark for most by a tight end in a season in franchise history. Hall of Fame wide receiver Marvin Harrison has the overall franchise record with 15 TD catches, accomplished in 2001 and 2004.
— The Colts’ sack-less streak ended Sunday at five games and 239 pass attempts as Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake got to quarterback Andrew Luck. It’s the first time he had been sacked since the opening drive at New England in Week 5. The clean streak is the third longest in league history, according to @EliasSports. The Colts’ 11 sacks allowed are tied with New Orleans for fewest in the league. The next-closest teams have allowed 16.
— Luck tied Peyton Manning for the second-longest streak in NFL history with at least three touchdown passes in eight consecutive games. New England’s Tom Brady owns the record with 10 in 2007.
— Luck led the Colts back from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit with his 20th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime.
— Luck’s 343 passing yards moved him into second place in league history with his 31st 300-yard passing game in seven seasons, breaking a tie with Manning, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and Kurt Warner.
— The Colts have scored at least 24 points in eight consecutive games, the first time that’s happened since a streak of 10 games in 2005.
— During that eight-game stretch, the Colts have averaged 33.1 points to boost their season average to 29.5 points per game, which ranks fourth in the league.
— Leonard has now had at least five games with 10 total tackles, the first Colts rookie to do so since Mike Peterson in 1994.
— The defense has come up with at least one turnover in each game. The only other team to do this is Cleveland.
— Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton led the Colts in receiving for the second consecutive game with seven catches for 125 yards. The sixth catch enabled Hilton to surpass 7,500 career receiving yards, which just four other players have accomplished since entering the league in 2012.
— Kicker Adam Vinatieri’s deciding 32-yard field goal on Sunday’s final play marked the 28th time in his legendary career that he’s kicked a game-winning field goal, including the postseason.
— Doyle’s fourth and final catch of the game and season was the 200th of his career.