Colts’ Kwity Paye on track to return vs. Texans

Sports

Colts defensive end Kwity Paye at training camp (WXIN July 28, 2021).

INDIANAPOLIS – Help is coming for the Indianapolis Colts’ lackluster pass rush.

Rookie defensive end Kwity Paye expects to play Sunday when the Houston Texans visit Lucas oil Stadium. The team’s first-round draft pick has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury.

Paye suffered the injury in the week 3 loss to the Tennessee Titans. He missed the next game at Miami, but nearly returned for Monday night’s loss at Baltimore.

“It was really, really close, but just not there, yet,’’ Paye said Thursday. “So coming back this week I feel like I’ll be full-go. I’ll be ready.’’

Paye, who was a full participant in Thursday’s practice, has sharpened his focus on properly preparing for practice and games to lessen the risk of aggravating the hamstring injury. It’s the type of injury that can bother a player throughout the season.

“It lingers,’’ he said. “It’s an injury where you feel better, (then) it just comes back on you unexpectedly. For me, just stay on top of it, active recovery, make sure I warm up.

“I’m not in college anymore so I can’t just suit up and go out to practice. I have to really warm up and then do my thing.’’

In the morning, Paye lifts weights to strengthen his hamstrings and gluteus muscles, then hits the ice tubs. Next are soft-tissue massages.

“Anything I can do to loosen it up and at practice I try to go through a warm-up,’’ he said. “After practice, I get more treatment.’’

The Colts need Paye on the field and as the catalyst for a pass rush that has been one of the NFL’s least effective over the first five weeks. They rank in the middle of the pack with 10 sacks, but have generated a league-low 21 quarterback hits.

In two-plus games, Paye has eight tackles, including one for a loss, and one fumble recovery. He’s yet to register his first NFL sack or even get a QB hit.

Sunday should offer an ideal opportunity for Paye and the Colts’ pass rush to assert itself. The Texans will be without starting tackles Laremy Tunsil and Mark Cannon, and have given up 10 sacks in the last three games since rookie Davis Mills replaced injured starter Tyrod Taylor.

Mills has been sacked 11 times overall on just 107 drop-back opportunities.

Thursday, cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes (concussion) and Rock Ya-Sin (ankle) were limited participants in practice.

Defensive end Kemoko Turay (groin) and right tackle Braden Smith (foot/thumb) were among players who did not practice.

Listen to the Colts Blue Zone Podcast for weekly coverage and analysis of the Indianapolis Colts.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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