Marlon Mack fractures right hand, status uncertain

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 10: Marlon Mack #25 of the Indianapolis Colts runs the ball downfield during the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 10, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In the euphoric aftermath of Sunday’s critical AFC South win over Jacksonville at Lucas Oil Stadium, it’s fair to wonder how much the Indianapolis Colts will have left in four days.

That’s when they travel to Houston for Thursday night’s prime-time rematch with the Texans.

It appears the Colts paid a heavy price for their 33-13 win over the Jaguars. Several players were forced from the game with injuries, including running back Marlon Mack.

The team’s leading rusher fractured his right hand on his final run of the day – a 20-yard gain early in the third quarter which pushed his total to 109 – putting his immediate availability very much in question. His status for Thursday’s game won’t be determined until Monday, but again, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be in the lineup.

“On the play I just felt some pain in my hand,’’ Mack said. “It was just crazy because I was going to have a good day. I had to go in (to the locker room) and they just took me out.

“I’m not nervous. Life’s always about ups and downs, it’s about how you get back up from it. I’m just being patient with it, and we’ll take it from there. It is what it is.’’

Losing Mack for any length of time would be a serious blow to the offense. He leads the team with 862 yards and is on pace for what 1,379 yards.

Complicating Mack’s situation in the backfield is the fact Jordan Wilkins missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. The Colts finished the game with only two healthy running backs: Jonathan Williams, who piled up a career-high 117 yards, and Nyheim Hines.

Mack’s injury is one of many clouding the Colts’ immediate future.

Sunday, rookie corner Rock Ya-Sin left the game midway through the third quarter with an ankle injury sustained when he tackled Leonard Fournette for a 2-yard loss. He appeared to first injury his ankle in the second quarter when registering his first interception.

Also in the game, tight end Mo Alie-Cox suffered a thumb injury and rookie cornerback Shak Taylor an ankle injury. There was no announcement, but safety George Odom went to the locker room late in the fourth quarter.

The Colts already were dealing with injuries to wideout T.Y. Hilton (calf), cornerback Pierre Desir (hamstring), rookie wideout Parris Campbell (fractured hand) and Wilkins. Veteran wideout Devin Funchess (shoulder) has started practicing on a limited basis and is eligible to return from the injured reserve list.

Back on top

The Colts find themselves back atop the AFC South after snapping their two-game losing streak.

They are tied with Houston with 6-4 records heading into Thursday night, but hold the tiebreaker on the strength of their 30-23 win in week 7. The Texans dropped to 6-4 with a 41-7 loss at Baltimore. Tennessee sits at 5-5 and the Jaguars 4-6.

The 20-point win also ended the Colts’ streak of nine straight games decided by 7 points or fewer. It was the second-longest streak to open a season in NFL history.

The celebration that wasn’t

If it didn’t count, did it happen? Yes, it did.

We’re talking about the celebration for guard Quenton Nelson’s 1-yard touchdown, that was overturned by the replay booth.

For the second time this season, Nelson lined up at fullback, this time for a third-and-goal at the 1 in the third quarter. He burrowed into the middle of the line, and the officials ruled it a TD.

That sparked the much-anticipated and oft-practiced celebration by the offensive line: the Keg Stand. With guard Mark Glowinski serving as the keg, Nelson leaned over Glowinski and Braden Smith and Joe Haeg grabbed and lifted Nelson’s legs.

The motivation for the celebration?

“Keg stands,’’ a stoic Nelson said of the popular activity on college campuses. “It’s been a while (he’s participated) because we are in season.

“I just thought of it one day and told the boys that we were going to do it. We executed it perfect and all the wide receivers got in and shot-gunned or chugged, so it was awesome.’’

Trouble is, it was a premature celebration. Replay wiped out the TD. On the next play, Jacoby Brissett hit Marcus Johnson with a 1-yard touchdown.

Nelson’s objectives on the play were simple.

“Don’t fumble and get into the end zone,’’ he said. “I accomplished one of those.’’

Brissett smiled as he considered Nelson’s almost-TD.

“I almost cried because that celebration was pretty cool,’’ he said. “I hope that still can be nominated as one of the best celebrations because I don’t know how they picked him up.’’

Frank Reich noted the Colts have been working on that goal-line play for “five or six weeks now.’’

Nelson, he added, was “all apologetic he didn’t get it in.’’

Reich also made one thing clear: Nelson is a better guard than he is a fullback.

“I think he’s a really good left guard,’’ he said. “I think we’ll keep him there.’’

For historical purposes, the failed rush snapped Nelson’s streak of consecutive snaps. He entered the game having been on the field for every snap in 25 regular-season games: 1,771.

T.Y. streak ends

All streaks eventually end, and the Colts finally snapped one that was getting out of hand. Sunday’s victory was the first when Hilton has been out with an injury. The Colts had been 0-7.

With Hilton out, Marcus Johnson led wideouts with four catches for 38 yards and one TD. Zach Pascal had two catches for 17 yards and Chester Rogers one for 11 yards.

This and that

Justin Houston contributed one of the two sacks of Nick Foles, upping his team-high total to 8. He’s now had a sack in six straight games, tying his career-best for consecutive games within a season. . . . cornerback Kenny Moore II had a busy day with a team-high eight tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss and one defended pass. . . . placekicker Adam Vinatieri shrugged off recent criticism and was perfect – a 34-yard field goal and four PATs. The field goal attempt was the 709th of his career, the most in NFL history. Vinatieri had been tied with Morten Andersen. The six points pushed his Colts-record total to 1,500 points.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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