AFC South: Indianapolis Colts

Colts need Landry to lead secondary

August, 22, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS – For as much as there is hope in the Indianapolis Colts’ defensive front seven this season, there’s as many questions about their safeties.

Part of the concern is because the Colts haven't named a starter yet to replace the departed Antoine Bethea at one of the safety positions. The other concern is whether LaRon Landry can be the player the Colts envisioned when they signed him to a four-year, $24 million contract in 2013.

“I never have any pressure like that,” Landry said in his first comments since the end of last season. “I don’t feel any pressure like that as far as my role. I come in each and every day to try and lead by example. I’m my toughest critic. I’m the hardest on myself, so it’s never good enough for me. It’s never perfect.”

[+] EnlargeLaRon Landry
AJ Mast/AP PhotoWith uncertainty at one safety spot, safety LaRon Landry needs to perform at a high level for the Colts.
The pressure is on Landry, even though he says he doesn’t feel it.

Coach Chuck Pagano jokingly asked me if I knew who would be one of their starting safeties this season Thursday. Delano Howell, who was the frontrunner for most of the offseason, is dealing with a serious enough neck injury that he’s had to see several specialists. Veteran Mike Adams, who signed in June, just recently got a full grasp of the defense. Sergio Brown and Colt Anderson lack experience.

That means Landry has to be the backbone of the secondary. He has to make sure everybody is on the same page because the safeties depend on each other. That’s especially important in Pagano’s defensive system with his safeties being interchangeable.

“He knows the defense better going into Year 2,” Pagano said. “He’s got to be an enforcer back there. He’s got to be a dominant, dominant football player, which he’s done and will continue to do. We need all those guys, we need more interceptions, more out of all of them. Just make the plays you’re supposed to make, be where you’re supposed to be and the rest will take care of itself.”

Landry dealt with an ankle injury that cost him four games last season. That was a setback for him because he led the NFL in tackles during the early part of the season. He lacked consistency after returning.

Landry, like cornerback Greg Toler, needs to stay healthy. Fast and fierce is how Landry plays. He just has to be productive when he plays that way.

“I think, just like all those guys, just be there 16 games, that’s all,” Pagano said. “Greg (Toler) 16 games, Vontae (Davis). Seriously, you know? That’s his mindset, it’s our mindset as a coaching staff, and all those guys. Easier said than done when you play the game at the rate of speed that the guy plays at.”

Landry’s health came into question in June. He spent the offseason working out on his own, as he has done throughout his career, only to show up for the team’s mandatory minicamp with what turned out to be a hip injury that kept him out the entire camp. Landry was on the sidelines during the first two weeks of training camp.

"It’s hard for any competitor just to sit out and watch, but I know it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I knew I had to go through the phases, the healing phases and I think just with the whole training staff, and strength staff, we’ve done a great job to nurse me back to health and get ready to play some of these preseason games so I could be able to come in the opener,” Landry said.
Hughes
INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts second-year defensive lineman Montori Hughes is on a leave of absence from the team because of the recent death of his 3-month-old daughter, coach Chuck Pagano said.

Pagano said Maveah Alice Hughes, the daughter of Hughes and his girlfriend, Leigh Burton, died last week.

“I can't imagine,” Pagano said. “No parent should have to bury a child. We all go through circumstances. This is an extremely, extremely difficult time for Montori and his family. But we've got his back and we'll get through this thing as a family like we get through anything."

Hughes had been working as Josh Chapman’s backup at defensive tackle.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Reggie Wayne is done trying to lobby with coach Chuck Pagano. The Indianapolis Colts receiver did it with his coach at the start of training camp. He did it when it came to his practice time. He did it before the first two preseason games.

Wayne knows lobbying won’t do any good. His status for the Saturday’s game against the New Orleans Saints will be determined by Pagano.

Bush
Wayne
So what do you say, coach, will Wayne play in his first game since Week 7 of the 2013 season when he tore his ACL?

“It’ll be a game-time decision,” Pagano said Thursday afternoon.

Ugh, the infamous game-time decision used by coaches.

Wayne said at the start of training camp that he wanted his first tackle in a game to come in the preseason, not on Sept. 7 against the Denver Broncos.

But that will likely be the case if Wayne doesn’t play Saturday because starters don’t routinely play in the preseason finale.

“I’ll just watch the Denver film from last year, watch the last time I got tackled,” Wayne said if he doesn’t play in the preseason. “I have to some kind of way. I have some kids. Sit in the middle of the living room and let them tee off on me. He says no go, I’ll be fine. I’ll be alright. There are not too many guys in this world who want to be tackled. I’ll be fine. I’ll be able to adjust. It’ll be Week 1, I guess.”

Wayne made sure to point out that he hasn’t had any kind of setback with his knee.

“I feel good, I feel like the Reggie of old. I really do,” he said. “Nothing has stopped me from doing what I have wanted to do. There’s no routes I can’t run. I feel fine. I guess it’s more that Coach Pagano and the Colts organization want to see me healthy for Week 1.”

Wayne wanting to play Saturday is about more than just getting that first tackle out of the way. He wants to be out there playing with fellow receivers T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks and the rest of the offense so they can get a feel for each other in a game that doesn’t count in the standings.

“Preseason, a lot of people think it’s nothing, but it’s very meaningful,” Wayne said. “You get a lot of stuff accomplished. You get a lot of stuff that you probably wouldn’t normally do in the regular season. You have an opportunity to try it out in the preseason. I just want to go out there and experience it.

“I want to be out there with my teammates. I want to be out there with T.Y. Hilton with Hakeem Nicks just to give people a glimpse of what they’re going to see. I want to be a part of that. I don’t want that to be the first time in Week 1.”

T.Y. Hilton No. 70 in player ranking

August, 21, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS -- About the only good thing to come out of Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne having his 2013 season cut short because of a torn ACL was that it allowed fellow receiver T.Y. Hilton to speed up his development.

And that’s why Hilton was voted as the 70th best offensive player in the NFL in ESPN.com’s player rankings. He’s the first Colts offensive player to crack the top-100 ranking.

Hilton finished 2013 with 82 receptions for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns.

Hilton became quarterback Andrew Luck’s go-to receiver after Wayne’s season ended in Week 7. He had 55 receptions for 671 yards in the games after Wayne went down. Hilton also had 224 yards receiving against Kansas City in the playoffs.

Some think Hilton's numbers could go down some because of Wayne's return and the addition of Hakeem Nicks to go with tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.

I disagree. I think Hilton will lead the Colts in receiving yards and yards per catch because those players will allow him to use his speed for big plays down field against single coverage.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts' starters will have the closest thing to a dress rehearsal for their season opener against the Denver Broncos on Sept. 7 when they likely play into the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints on Saturday.

Luck
The starters played one series against the New York Jets on Aug. 7. They played a little bit longer against the New York Giants last week. The starters aren't expected to play much if they even play at all in the preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals on Aug. 28.

“There’s a lot of, obviously, important things in the game,” quarterback Andrew Luck said. “But yeah, if we do it like we have the past couple years, when you get to come out and do a drive in the second half, it’s good to get back in that mode, that rhythm at halftime of sitting down for 12 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever it is and coming back out then hopefully putting a drive together.”

Depending on if coach Chuck Pagano decides to play receiver Reggie Wayne, Luck could be working with his entire offensive unit outside of starting center Khaled Holmes (ankle) against the Saints.

“It’ll be exciting,” Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. “I think we’ll be faced with some new challenges from week to week. The more evidence that you put on film that you’re going to do certain things, teams tend to scheme you up and have better answers in a sense. Our guys are working hard. It will be a tremendous challenge for us as an offensive unit, but I think we’re up to the challenge.”
INDIANAPOLIS – It would have only been natural for warning flags to go up after hearing about the Indianapolis Colts acquiring running back David Fluellen from Philadelphia for kicker Cody Parkey on Wednesday.

Trent Richardson is only averaging 2.4 yards a carry. Ahmad Bradshaw is coming off neck surgery, he’s wearing a red noncontact jersey during part of training camp and he’s yet to play in the preseason.

Don’t be alarmed.

Fluellen is just another running back to throw in the mix to compete with Daniel “Boom” Herron for the third running back position. Phillip Tanner, who was released Wednesday, reduced his odds to make the team when he fumbled in the end zone against the New York Giants last Saturday.

Fluellen finished fourth in rushing in school history with 3,336 yards while at the University of Toledo.

The Colts need some extra running backs on the roster because Richardson and Bradshaw likely won’t play in the preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals on Aug. 28.

That means Herron, Fluellen, Deji Karim and Zurlon Tipton will likely split carries against the Bengals if they survive the first roster cuts on Aug. 26.

Trent Richardson off to slow start

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Look at Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson's preseason rushing statistics and you probably want to climb to the top of the nearest mountain and scream, “Here we go again!” at the top of your lungs.

Richardson has rushed for 34 yards on 14 attempts in two preseason games. That’s 2.4 yards a carry, which is even less than the 2.9 yards he averaged last season when he lost his starting job after being acquired from the Cleveland Browns.

Coach Chuck Pagano isn’t ready to join you at the top of the mountain, but he’s not kidding himself, either. He knows they need to run the ball better. It's a necessity that the Colts provide something on the ground to help open things up on the outside for quarterback Andrew Luck.

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsTrent Richardson's numbers so far in the preseason are reminiscent of last season's struggles.
“I think everybody wants this guy to get going and that guy to get going, but there’s some tough sledding right now and we’re working at it,” Pagano said. “I think having the capability to do the other thing is going to open things up in the run game for us.”

The pass Richardson and the Colts got last year because the running back was acquired during the season is gone. He had the entire offseason to learn the offense, he’s comfortable with Luck, and he said he’s in exceptional health.

Now it’s time for the No. 3 overall pick in 2012 to produce on the field.

“Trent, he needs to answer the bell and do his job to the best of his ability,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. “We’re all accountable here. I will say this, there are a lot of backs last year that wouldn’t have got [2.4] considering the amount of people he had in that box and the amount of bodies that were hitting him before he even seemed to get the ball sometimes. He’s such a hard runner, we know how tough he is, but he’s got to produce just like all these guys do on this final 53.”

Richardson’s first run of the preseason was for 8 yards, giving the indication that good things were to come with him. But he gained only 26 yards since then. The New York Giants, according to Pagano, loaded up the box on more than 20 of the first 30 plays of their preseason game last weekend. Richardson’s two longest runs -- 8 yards each -- came with Luck in the shotgun. Richardson's running with better instincts. It's just not showing up in the results, which is the determining factor.

“I think any time for any back, not only Trent, I think any time you spread people out and you’re in one-back situations, you’re in the gun,” Pagano said. “Everything’s dictated on what the defense presents. If they give you a light box, it doesn’t matter who’s in there, you’re going to have an opportunity to gain some yards. … It kind of depends on how the defense decides to defend you. If they go light box and they spread things out, I think for any runner he’s going to have an opportunity to gain more yards. First and second down, you can do the same thing. If they want to drop a safety down like this team likes to do, you’re still going to be, get a hat on a hat, you’re still going to have to get things blocked up and make a guy miss probably on his own.”

The verdict still can’t be determined with Richardson because he has played limited snaps in the preseason and the Colts haven’t had their full arsenal of weapons on offense. Receiver Reggie Wayne and running back Ahmad Bradshaw have yet to play in the preseason. The Colts are also dealing with injuries at guard and center.

“When Reggie’s out there, and T.Y. and Hakeem, you can’t double all of them,” Richardson said. “To have them with us, especially when Ahmad comes back, it’s going to be dangerous, and I like the direction we’re going in. I’m just proud to be able to be where we’re at right now. I know there’s still a lot to come and still a lot to work on. When it comes down to it, we’re just a work in progress right now.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson decided against looking outside the organization for a replacement for safety Antoine Bethea during the heart of the free-agency period in March. Grigson didn’t address the position through the draft, either.

The Colts felt like they had their replacement on the roster in Delano Howell. Then they signed veteran Mike Adams in June, which indicated they weren't convinced Howell was ready to be the starter.

Adams
A neck injury has put Howell’s season, and possibly career, in question. The pressure is on Adams to step in and help a defense that’s shown vast improvements in the preseason.

“Pressure, what’s that? As far as I know, pressure busts pipes,” Adams said. “I’m not worried about any pressure or anything. I wasn’t given the job. I was here to compete for a job.”

Grigson said Howell is seeing a specialist for his neck. His 2013 season was cut short due to a neck problem.

Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano say the competition to start alongside LaRon Landry at safety is up in the air still because Sergio Brown and Colt Anderson are also in the mix.

“All those guys have the traits that you’re looking for to play in our system and in our scheme,” Pagano said. “They can all play down in the box, they can all get guys on the ground. They’re athletic enough to cover and they’ve got good range in the back end when they have to play in the deep part of the secondary. I think we’ve got guys that are more than capable. The better off your front is, the easier the job is back there.”

The reality is the job is Adams’ to lose.

He’s the most experienced of the group, having started 73 games in his 10-year career. Adams joked the day after signing with the Colts in June that he may be 33 years old mentally, but he feels 26 years old physically.

The Colts hope that is true because they like their safeties to have cover skills and the ability to play in the box.

“Watch me, that’s all I have to say,” Adams said Tuesday. “Sometimes I run better than most second- and third-year players. I’m in great shape. I’m good.”
INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis and general manager Ryan Grigson both talked Tuesday like the linebacker will not play in the preseason.

Mathis
“Do I ever question if Robert Mathis knows how to play this game? No,” Grigson said. “Has he done it at a high level for many years? Yes. It’s kind of trying to find a fine line to where you want him to be game ready, but at the same time, game ready for what? He’s not going to be there the first four games. So we’ve just got to be smart.

"Robert Mathis on his own, he’s going to be getting ready. He’s going to be taking mental reps. He’s going to be dreaming about playing. He loves this game. So he’s another one that you just kind of don’t worry about.”

Mathis is suspended the first four games of the season because he violated the NFL’s drug policy. His first game will be Oct. 5 against the Baltimore Ravens.

It’s not surprising that Mathis likely won’t play because the Colts have reached the point of the preseason where games are pretty scripted. The starters will play through the first half against the New Orleans Saints on Saturday and not many of the starters are expected to play in the preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Whenever my name is called I’ll answer the bell,” Mathis said.
INDIANAPOLIS -- It’s only natural for a receiver like Da'Rick Rogers or Griff Whalen to look over his shoulder and wonder how the other player at that position is doing.

The Indianapolis Colts are set (barring any kind of injury) with Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief as their top four receivers.

That leaves Rogers and Whalen and the remaining receivers on the roster competing for one or two spots on the roster at that position.

Veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said wondering how others are doing in the competition is the absolute wrong approach to take.

“Looking at the numbers is the worst thing you can do,” Hasselbeck said. “My advice to those guys is to not look at the guy next to you. You’re not competing with him necessarily. You’re competing against everybody playing football because teams are always looking to find players to help make their team better. Just worry about yourself, do the best job you can. Make the most of your opportunities.”

The Colts haven’t zeroed in on how many receivers they plan to keep on the roster. It wouldn’t be surprising if they kept six receivers, especially since veteran Reggie Wayne is coming off a torn ACL.

“It’s going to be extremely difficult because you see those guys making plays and doing great things,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “They’ve all had their moments. There’s a lot of guys just trying to make a case for themselves, so these next couple weeks are going to be very, very important for all those guys. Obviously we’re in a position now much better than any time since we’ve been here as far as the roster goes and the cutdowns.”

Rogers and Whalen are the front-runners for the final position or two at receiver.

Both have had their moments at different times.

Rogers spent most of last season on the practice squad before being called up and eventually having his first 100-yard receiving game against Cincinnati. The Colts are enamored with Rogers’ size (6-foot-3) and athleticism. But Rogers, who had maturity issues while in college, got off to a slow start in training camp and was outplayed by Whalen.

I asked a Colts official about Rogers’ lack of production in camp, and he responded, “Just wait until the lights come on. He’ll be fine.”

That person was right.

It started with Rogers making a 45-yard reception in the preseason opener against the New York Jets. Then he had a 14-yard touchdown reception against the New York Giants. Both of those passes were thrown by Hasselbeck.

“He was someone I invested a lot into last year,” Hasselbeck said. “I worked with him a lot. I like him, I trust him. Da’Rick has done a nice job of making big plays in the preseason, but he’s got a ton of room for improvement as far as earning the trust of the starting quarterback and the coaches.”

You might as well call Whalen "Mr. Reliable." He doesn’t have exceptional speed. He’s not flashy. He just simply gets the job done, and that’s all that matters.

Whalen and quarterback Andrew Luck were teammates and roommates in college at Stanford. It’s easy to tell that by their continuity on the field. They showed it last season. They showed at training camp at Anderson (Indiana) University and they showed it again when the two connected for a 5-yard touchdown against the Giants. Whalen is also a candidate to return punts.

It may come down to dependability (Whalen) vs. potential (Rogers) if the Colts go with only five receivers.

“I can’t think about it,” Rogers said. “Start to count numbers and you take yourself out the game.”

“It creeps in your mind," Whalen said. "Like human nature, I can’t completely ignore it. But I know focusing on it and dwelling on it isn’t going to help me. I try to focus on the things I can do. Like practicing hard every day and playing well in the games.”
INDIANAPOLIS – The first time Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis plays in a game this season might not be until he returns from his four-game suspension against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 5.

Mathis hasn’t played in the preseason, and Chuck Pagano doesn't sound like a coach who plans to play his star linebacker in either of the final two preseason games. Mathis is suspended for violating the league's drug policy.

Mathis
“We understand that we’re going to be without Rob, and we’ve got to make sure that from a preparation standpoint, staying in it mentally throughout the course of practice, those types of things, you get him enough,” Pagano said. “There’s a fine line because we know we’re not going to have him for four weeks. You’ve got to get the other guys ready to go, get them playing time and get them the snaps that they need. It’s tough.

“I’m not going to say we’ve totally ruled out the idea of him playing in the preseason. We’ll just take it day by day. I know we’ve got two opportunities left and we’ll just see where we’re at. If there’s an opportunity and it makes sense for us to get him out there then we will.”

The third preseason game is when teams tend to play their starters through at least halftime. That game for the Colts will be against the New Orleans Saints at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday. The final preseason game is the opposite. The starters routinely sit out that game.

Bjoern Werner will start in Mathis’ absence.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts thought they had gotten the ball back from the Giants on back-to-back plays in the first quarter on Saturday.

One was an interception by cornerback Darius Butler. The other was safety Mike Adams recovering a fumble after cornerback Greg Toler had stripped the ball from Giants receiver Victor Cruz.

Both plays did not count because a flag was thrown. Both penalties were because of illegal contact by the Colts.

The Colts found out the tough way just how serious the NFL is about the illegal contact penalty. Defensive players are not allowed to touch the offensive player after he gets outside of the 5-yard contact zone.

The Colts were called for illegal contact five times Saturday.

“It’s a point of emphasis coming into the season,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “We have officials in practice. We have the NFL officials in so we’ve been harping on it in the whole offseason program, OTAs, minicamp and all through training camp. You can kind of see where the weekend’s going, including our game, as far as the emphasis on illegal contact, offensive P.I., D.P.I., holding, all those things in the back end. Guys are going to have to do a great job. You’re allowed five yards, and then after five yards, you’ve got to get off guys and you can’t have contact. We’ve got to do a better job coaching it.”

Linebacker Kelvin Sheppard was called for illegal contact twice. The first time was when Butler intercepted Giants quarterback Eli Manning. When he was called for it a second time, it took away an exceptional play by linebacker Bjoern Werner, who caught Giants running back Rashad Jennings from behind for no gain.

“It’s tough, especially now days with these tight ends,” Sheppard said. “Most of them can run. They’re 6-6, 260 pounds running a 4.5. It’s tough for linebackers now days to put ourselves in a position of success. It is what it was. They called me for it. They’re right, I’m wrong. You have to learn from it.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- Quarterback Andrew Luck's skill set and ability to lead the Indianapolis Colts to victories is well documented.

You can say the same about the praise he constantly receives from coaches and players around the league, too.

That’s why it isn’t surprising that New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle joined the group in complimenting Luck.

“I think Luck is an elite quarterback,” Rolle told New York reporters Wednesday. “He’s an outstanding young and rising star in the league. I think he possesses great tools and great poise as a quarterback. This is going to be the best test that we’ve done thus far this year with the receiver tandem they do have.”

The Colts and Giants play Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Giants are about to play their third preseason game. They faced Buffalo’s EJ Manuel in the Hall of Fame game and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in their second game.

Rolle and the rest of the Giants might see Luck for the entire first quarter Saturday.

“That's the plan right now, and then we'll see how that goes,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “If we have two drives like we had in the first ballgame, you've got a 10, 12-play drive and you've got a couple scores, then it might be time to pull him if that happens before the first quarter. So we'll just play it by ear."
INDIANAPOLIS – The statistics don’t lie. The Indianapolis Colts know it, too, that’s why there hasn’t been excuse making about their inability to stop the run last season.

They were 26th in the league in that category, including giving up 384 yards on the ground in their two playoff games.

The Colts had no choice but to add different pieces in an attempt to improve their run defense.

Jackson
Enter defensive lineman Arthur Jones and linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, a tackling machine during his time with the Cleveland Browns, from the outside to go with finally healthy defensive tackle Josh Chapman anchoring the defensive line.

“We’re going to be a lot better,” defensive lineman Cory Redding said. “We’ve made leaps and bounds in training camp with the new pieces that we’ve added.”

Jackson, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Browns, did his homework before signing with the Colts. He wanted to play with players who pursued the ball, did the small things and had the intangibles that can’t be coached. Jackson had also heard that Jones was interested in signing with the Colts. That ended up happening eight days after Jackson agreed to a deal with Indianapolis in March.

“I’ve been very impressed in my short time here,” Jackson said. “I did my homework and knew they had some nice pieces in front of me and a good group of linebackers.”

The Colts will have two new starters up front on the defensive line. Jones will play tackle and nose. He constantly showed that he’ll be causing chaos on teams during training camp. Chapman and his 340-pound frame will take up space in the middle, commanding double teams so that Jerrell Freeman and Jackson can pursue the ball carrier.

“Any linebacker would be thrilled to have an opportunity to play behind this guy,” Jackson said. “He’s a space-eater. The guys on the edge, I honestly think if we can stay healthy, we should see some substantial amount of improvement from a run defense standpoint.”

Jackson and Freeman are both 100-tackle-a-year players who have no problem finding the ball. Colts coach Chuck Pagano referred to the two of them as the quarterbacks of the defense.

“D’Qwell, just his instincts knowing where the ball is and the trust, knowing we’re going to be in our gaps is going to pay off,” Redding said. “He and Free will be able to perform how they know how to perform.”

Depth -- and health -- will be key for the Colts because they have the bodies to constantly keep fresh players on the field so that they can avoid wearing down during the course of the game.

“We’ve got the front seven that we want now,” Pagano said. “We’re bigger, stronger and we have more depth than we’ve ever had up front. As a linebacker, you have big guys like that in front of you and they can command double teams. If they’re getting singled and guys are getting off and getting to the second level we’re not going to be very good. We’ve got guys now I think can command those double teams. Those guys are going to be free to hit and make plays for us.”

Colts Camp Report: Day 16

August, 13, 2014
Aug 13
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ANDERSON, Ind. -- A daily review of hot topics coming out of Indianapolis Colts training camp:
  • The players didn’t waste any time loading up their cars and speeding out of the parking lot at Anderson (Indiana) University to head back home after spending the past three weeks in training camp. “Offense, defense and special teams, individually, I think we’ve seen everybody make strides,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “We’ve seen everybody get better. I think as long as we stay on track and avoid the injury bug. If we stay healthy ... I think this team has the potential to do some great things this year."
  • Quarterback Andrew Luck will play against the visiting Giants on Saturday (7 p.m. ET). How much he plays will likely depend on how successful the offense is, according to Pagano. “That's the plan right now, and then we'll see how that goes,” the coach said. “If we have two drives like we had in the first ballgame, you've got a 10, 12-play drive and you've got a couple scores, then it might be time to pull him if that happens before the first quarter. So we'll just play it by ear." Receiver T.Y. Hilton will play despite not practicing the previous two days.
  • Pagano had hoped for rookie offensive lineman Jack Mewhort to practice Wednesday after not practicing the previous three days. That didn’t happen. Mewhort had offseason knee surgery and was pulled from practice early last Saturday. "He could have went, but I held him,” Pagano said. “I was just making sure that thing's all right." As far as other key players go, the Colts are going to take a wait-and-see approach with running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw didn’t play against the New York Jets last week and he’s wearing a red no-contact jersey in practice. “We'll see where he's at from a physical standpoint (Friday), see how he's feeling and then make a decision if we want to play him or not," Pagano said.
  • There were a lot of nervous players standing on the field late Wednesday morning. They had put the final 40 minutes of practice in the hands of special teams coaches Tom McMahon and Brant Boyer. Catch the kickoff off the Jugs machine and Pagano would end training camp early. Drop the ball and the final practice continues. Two tries, one catch. That's all it took for the celebration to take place. Practice ended -- and the celebration began -- after the first kick. “(McMahon’s) a gamer,” Pagano said. “I found out he's a gamer, so good job Tommy."

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