Frank Reich perfectly played Kemoko Turay’s injury situation

Colts DE Kemoko Turay (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Colts DE Kemoko Turay (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Colts head coach Frank Reich was smart with DE Kemoko Turay.

With back-to-back strong performances against two of the better offenses in the NFL (Baltimore and Tennessee), the Indianapolis Colts’ defense is finally garnering national recognition as one of the best. It’s nice to see the group receive the praise it deserves after coasting under the radar for the first half of the campaign.

Coming into Thursday night’s divisional clash, Tennessee ranked in the top 10 in both total yards and points per game. In dominating fashion, however, Indianapolis — albeit after a woeful start — surrendered just 17 points to Derrick Henry and Co, which included posting a shutout in the second half. That showing comes a week after limiting Lamar Jackson and the Ravens high-powered offense to two touchdowns and a field goal.

What’s made the Colts lights out display this season all the more impressive? The fact that they’ve done it without defensive end Kemoko Turay, who’s been recovering from a broken ankle suffered in Week 5 of last season. His impending return proves that head coach Frank Reich couldn’t have managed his injury situation more perfectly.

Turay has been at full strength for several weeks now despite still being listed on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) since the start of the season. However, Reich revealed last month that he wanted to give him extensive reps on the practice field before clearing him for game action.

Considering the severity of his injury and the fact that Indianapolis’ defense hasn’t skipped a beat during his rehab — they rank first in total yards allowed (290.4) and third in points allowed (19.7) through nine games — that was undoubtedly the right call.

There was minimal optimism that Turay could return for Week 9 against Baltimore, but now that he’s missed that game and a short week vs the Titans, you have to think the 2018 second-round pick will make his season debut next Sunday on the road in Green Bay.

Whatever the case, Turay’s return appears imminent and to say that the Colts, despite their efficiency at pressuring opposing quarterbacks, could use his combination of speed and power off the edge would be an understatement.

The Rutgers product showed flashes of star potential over the first 18 games (three starts) of his career, but fans should probably temper expectations for him given his lengthy spell on the sidelines. Nonetheless, the fact that he’s fully recovered and available for Indianapolis’ playoff push is more than enough for us to be satisfied with Reich’s meticulous management of him.