AFC South: Indianapolis Colts

Wayne causes a scare, but body responds

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Reggie Wayne knew everybody was holding their breath wondering if he would be okay as he remained on the ground in Denver after slipping and having his knee bend awkwardly.

The Indianapolis Colts receiver joked that he didn’t know if it was out of respect or if his fantasy owners were worried.

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Everybody in the Colts organization was concerned, because it was only 11 months ago that Wayne tore his ACL in the second half against that same Denver team.

"As I’m laying there, I’m trying to compare feelings," Wayne said. "But at the same time, that’s the healthiest joint on my body. It’s still got the price tag on. It’s all the other stuff you have to worry about at this point in time. It’s not something that I stress. It’s already written. If it’s going to happen it’s going to happen and hopefully it doesn’t."

Wayne left the game for only a snap against the Broncos before returning. Still, coach Chuck Pagano joked it would have probably been better if Wayne got the "crap knocked out of him" because "you hold your breath" worrying about the possibility of another severe knee injury.

"One thing you realize is that friendship stuff is overrated," Wayne said with a smile. "But to a sense he’s probably got some truth to that. I’ve been hit many times before and bounced up, but when you go down awkward it’s a different kind of get up. It’s kind of a get up and make sure your leg is still attached to your body and make sure everything is functional."

It took the majority of the week for the soreness in Wayne’s body to go away, because the Denver game was the first full game he has played in since the injury in October. He finished with nine catches for 98 yards, both team highs.

"I wanted to see how I would respond. It responded about right," Wayne said. "I didn’t take into [account] the fact that it would take a week to get the soreness out, but when you sit back and think about it, that’s about right. That’s about what it is.

"My body is responding fine, especially for a 35-year-old. Not many 35-year-olds can get hit by a mack truck and keep it moving. So far so good, and hopefully we continue to keep that ball bouncing."

Freeman out vs. Eagles, McNary to start

September, 13, 2014
Sep 13
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts will be without starting linebacker Jerrell Freeman against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday.

Freeman
It's not surprising that that Freeman is not playing, because he didn’t practice all week after injuring his hamstring against Denver in Week 1.

Second-year player Josh McNary will start in Freeman’s place against the Eagles. The Colts will miss Freeman’s experience against Chip Kelly’s complex offense, but McNary is Indianapolis' most athletic linebacker, which is a necessity in defending Philadelphia’s tight ends.

"Certainly going to miss (Freeman)," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "Josh will go in there and play good football. It’s not going to be perfect. It’s never perfect for anybody on either side of the ball, but he’ll make a ton plays."

McNary got a late start on the season because of a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for most of training camp.

"Physically I just had to recondition and get my legs back under me and everything from a mental standpoint," McNary said. "I think I’m set from a mental side of it ... Definitely, you always want that opportunity and when you’re not starting it’s something you’re always striving for. So when you get the opportunity you want to make sure you do what you can with it, maximize it and not look back."

As far as other injured Colts go, Pagano said offensive lineman Joe Reitz (ankle) is also out, center Khaled Holmes (ankle), defensive linemen Arthur Jones (shoulder) and Josh Chapman (ankle) are questionable, and safety Sergio Brown (shoulder) and cornerback Greg Toler (ribs) are probable.

Colts DBs adapt while staying aggressive

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts proved last season that they’re at their best in the secondary when cornerback Greg Toler leads the way with his aggressive play.

That’s why it’s not surprising that the NFL’s approach to calling illegal contact tighter after the first 5 yards impacts Toler more than any other defensive player on the Colts’ roster. His preference is to get up on the receiver he’s defending and be physical with him.

He has to change that approach now.

Toler
“I try to still play my game,” Toler said. “But I know they’re looking for more calls now. If it’s getting my hands in there early and getting them down fast, getting a good jam on the receiver. Usually I try to control the guy first, but now since they’re putting such an emphasis on it I just have to practice it and hopefully it shows in the game.”

Toler was called for three penalties -- two holding and one illegal contact -- against the Denver Broncos last weekend even though one of the calls was highly questionable because quarterback Peyton Manning’s pass was not catchable.

“Personally you have to just let them play football,” Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. “Sometimes you’re going to have those ticky-tack fouls, but you can’t take the aggressiveness away from any player. It’s him going out there and performing at a high level.”

Cornerback Darius Butler, whose holding penalty was offset by a penalty by the Broncos on the same play, said it’s a challenge adapting and having to change their defensive approach. Part of the challenge is being cognizant of where they're at on the field.

“If you’re playing off your man, he’s going to be past five yards and any little touch they’re going to call it,” Toler said. “Receivers are getting bigger, more physical and they don’t want us to touch them. It’s how the game is called and you just have to adapt. You can’t play scared because that’s how you get hurt. If you’re looking for a flag it’s going to come. You just have to play your game and hopefully you play within the rules.”
INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman missed practice for the second straight day because of a hamstring injury.

Josh McNary continues to get Freeman’s reps with the first-team defense. If Freeman can't play, the Colts will decide between McNary and Henoc Muamba on who starts against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday.

“Those two guys have been taking the brunt of practice time so far and it’ll continue that way until Monday,” Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. “Right now, we’re watching the evaluations of both of those guys and we’ll figure it out.”

Freeman injured his hamstring in the Colts’ loss to the Denver Broncos last Sunday. Defensive tackle Art Jones (shoulder) didn’t practice for the second straight day.

Werner wants to create legacy at OLB

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The ideal situation would be Bjoern Werner grabbing a hold of the starting outside linebacker position for the Indianapolis Colts and leaving no doubt that he'd be an adequate replacement while Robert Mathis is out for the season with a torn Achilles.

Situations aren’t always ideal, especially when you’re talking about finding a way to make up for Mathis’ ability to get after the quarterback.

Werner
“I can’t replace Robert Mathis,” Werner said. “I just have to be that guy stepping in and creating my own legacy. It’s the first time Robert Mathis has been gone. People have to adjust to it.”

The Colts need Werner to produce. It can't afford to give him more development time. Mathis’ season-ending injury sped up the process for Werner. The second-year player needs to get after the quarterback since sacks have been hard to come by for the Colts when Mathis is not on the field.

“They drafted me for a reason, so now I’m trying to be that reason,” Werner said. “They can trust me to do my thing out there. It’s the reason they drafted me.”

Depth is a concern for the Colts because Mathis isn’t the only outside linebacker player out for the season. The Colts placed Cam Johnson (elbow) on injured reserve earlier this week. Rookie Jonathan Newsome will likely get the first crack at backing up Werner, with Andy Studebaker also a possibility.

“We don’t replace a guy like Robert,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s like losing Reggie [Wayne] last year, you don’t replace those guys. Just like our offensive guys did last season when we lost so many guys, guys got to step up and they’ve got to raise their level of play, and we’ve got to do the same thing collectively on defense.”

The Colts need consistency out of Werner, not sporadic play. He barely had a presence in the Colts’ Week 1 loss to Denver. Werner had three tackles against the Broncos.

“It’s important every week whether it’s a win or a loss,” Werner said. "Even if you win, you have mistakes and you have to fix them. We fixed them. It’s done and now we’re looking forward to the Eagles. [We've] studied a lot already.”

Colts vs. Eagles preview

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
8:00
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Both teams fell behind by double digits in their Week 1 game. Only one team was able to fight its way back to win the game. The other fought back but was stopped on fourth down in the fourth quarter.

The Philadelphia Eagles spotted the Jacksonville Jaguars a 17-0 lead before coming back and winning 34-17. The Indianapolis Colts trailed the Denver Broncos 24-0 before coming back and eventually losing 31-24.

The Colts and Eagles meet Monday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in a battle between one team that is struggling to get a consistent pass rush, Indianapolis, and another team with offensive line problems, Philadelphia.

ESPN Eagles reporter Phil Sheridan and Colts reporter Mike Wells discuss the game.

Sheridan: The Eagles will be coming into a dome with a banged-up offensive line. Without Robert Mathis, do the Colts have the defensive playmakers to take advantage of that?

Wells: That’s a question that nobody has an answer for yet. Counting the preseason, the Colts’ starting defense has only three sacks in five games. That’s not going to get it done when the NFL is a passing league. The Colts struggled getting pressure on Peyton Manning in Denver last weekend. Philly lost two offensive linemen to injuries this week, so Indianapolis has no excuse for not being able to get after Nick Foles, especially since Jacksonville sacked him five times. Bjoern Werner, who is starting in Mathis’ place, has to mature quickly and not play like a second-year player. Werner needs help, though. Fellow linebacker Erik Walden and the defensive front have to do their part.

It's not always a smooth transition for college coaches making the jump to the NFL. That hasn't been an issue for Chip Kelly, with the Eagles making the playoffs last season. Why hasn't it been a tough transition for Kelly?

Sheridan: I think he’s fundamentally just a good football coach. Kelly likes to say that if you weren’t in the room with Rockne and Stagg, you’re just borrowing ideas from other people. He’s a gym rat type of guy who enjoys nothing more than trying to figure out what works and why, then playing around with it until something new emerges. He does some things -- his practice approach, the up-tempo offense -- that are novel in the NFL right now, but all of them are based on sound, traditional ideas, not on throwing stuff at the wall to see if it sticks. Andy Reid was an NFL guy to his bones, but he was much more enamored with throwing every down and gadget plays than Kelly is. The other element is that Kelly came to the NFL from college just as the NFL was starting to embrace more of the ideas generated by college coaches. The players who are coming into the league often come from schools that ran spread offenses and didn’t huddle, so the foundation is already set.

It’s a badge of honor for quarterbacks to be able to bring their teams back to win late in games. Andrew Luck has already shown his knack for that. But wouldn’t the Colts be better if they could start fast and avoid the whole late-rally thing?

Wells: Getting off to quick starts is an issue the Colts have been talking about for more than year. And they’ve yet to solve that problem. They’ve even tried opening games in the no-huddle offense to try to change the tempo. All the comebacks make Luck look good because of his ability to overcome deficits with his no-quit attitude, but at some point the Colts aren’t going to be as fortunate. That happened last weekend in Denver. The Broncos jumped out to a 24-0 lead and that was too big of a deficit for the Colts to come back from.

Speaking of slow starts, the Eagles spotted the Jaguars 17 points before scoring the final 34 points. Are slow starts something to be worried about going forward?

Sheridan: I don’t think so; at least not yet. The first game of a new season is always a little odd. You’re not sure what the other team is going to look like. Were they showing their real offense and defense in the preseason or were they playing possum? I think Foles was thrown off just enough by the Jags’ coverages and pass rush to hold the ball and disrupt the entire rhythm of the offense. My guess is that Kelly will make sure to find some plays that get Foles into a rhythm early against upcoming opponents. If Foles isn’t able to take advantage, and if poor starts become a trend, then it will be time to worry.

In Brent Celek and Zach Ertz, the Eagles have a couple of playmaking tight ends. With injuries at linebacker and scorch marks from Denver’s Julius Thomas, how can the Colts bounce back and minimize the damage from these two?

Wells: No offense to Celek and Ertz, but the Colts are happy they don’t have to see Thomas or New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham this weekend. Graham lit the Colts up in the third preseason game. Tight ends with speed, like Thomas and Graham, give the Colts problems because they don’t have linebackers capable of lining up out wide to defend them. D’Qwell Jackson doesn’t have the speed to keep up with fast tight ends and fellow middle linebacker Jerrell Freeman is dealing with a hamstring issue. If Foles is smart, he'll take a page out of Manning's book from last week and find a favorable matchup and keep going to that player.

Offensive line problems are nothing new for the Colts. Luck has been sacked 76 times in barely two years. Jacksonville got to Foles five times last weekend. Do you think the Eagles have legitimate offensive line problems -- like the Colts -- or was it a matter of them facing a Jacksonville team with a strong front seven?

Sheridan: The Eagles’ line was one of their primary strengths last season, when all five starters played all 17 games, including the playoff loss to New Orleans. But right tackle Lane Johnson is suspended for four games for PED use, and two linemen went down in the first half against Jacksonville. One of them was Pro Bowl left guard Evan Mathis. So there are legitimate concerns about the Eagles’ line going forward. There will be two new starters Monday night -- Dennis Kelly at left guard and Andrew Gardner at right tackle -- dealing with crowd noise and the Colts' defense. It’s important for the Eagles to establish LeSean McCoy and the run game early, putting the Colts back on their heels a little and quieting down that crowd.

Colts preparing for fast-paced offense

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
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INDIANAPOLIS – Up-tempo.

That’s the phrase being used quite frequently around the Indianapolis Colts facility as they get ready to face the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense is something the Colts aren’t familiar with. Philadelphia, according to Colts coach Chuck Pagano, ran its offense with an average of about 25 seconds on the play clock in its victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday.

Now the Colts have to try to slow the Eagles’ offense down after starting the preparation for it in the offseason.

“Sideline to sideline, it’s grass basketball,” Pagano said.

[+] EnlargeNick Foles and Chip Kelly
Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesThe Colts prepared for the fast-paced challenge that Nick Foles and Chip Kelly will provide Monday night.
Last season, it wasn't known how Kelly’s up-tempo offense would fare in the NFL after he was so successful with it at the University of Oregon. Kelly then coached the Eagles to a 10-6 record and the playoffs while averaging 417 yards and 27.6 points a game.

“One thing about the NFL is that it’s constantly changing,” Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. “It’s trending. Pretty soon here we’re going to see a lot of offenses trickle in what they’re doing, but Chip Kelly has it mastered. He’s the only guy in the NFL that’s doing it. He’s had major success with it, so he’s doing something right and it’s going to be a fun challenge, it really is. I think it’s here to stay.”

The goal of Kelly’s offense is to run as many plays as possible, create mismatches and not allow the defense to substitute so that they always have the advantage. The Eagles ran 82 plays in their 34-17 come-from-behind victory over Jacksonville. Colts safety Colt Anderson, who played in Philadelphia last season, said the Eagles run a two-minute offense the entire game.

The lineup the Colts use on the Eagles’ first snap could be on the field that entire series because of how quick they get to the line of scrimmage. The Colts will have time to substitute if the Eagles throw an incomplete pass down field and it takes time for the officials to get the ball back to the line of scrimmage or if Philadelphia substitutes.

It’s a mental and physical challenge for the Colts.

“They’re different how they do things,” said Colts safety Mike Adams, who faced the Eagles last season while with Denver. “They go fast and they try to make you make mistakes. That’s why communication and assignments are so important. You have to know what you’re doing.”

The Eagles aren’t easy to defend because they have playmakers at each position. They have running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper and tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek.

A key for the Colts will be their ability to put pressure on Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. The Jaguars got to Foles five times last weekend and the Eagles lost two offensive linemen to injured reserve this week, Allen Barbre and Evan Mathis.

“[Kelly] has weapons all over the board,” Jackson said. “You can run any offense, he has enough playmakers to get the job done, but his style of offense is unique. There are not a lot of teams that are doing that high-tempo, spreading guys out. You have three choices on the play. You can hand it off, run the zone option or throw a bubble screen. They have a lot of different challenges that defenses don’t have to see week in and week out. We’re up for the challenge.”
INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne made his first appearance on his weekly radio show on WNDE-AM 1260 in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

Wayne talked about what caused a lot of concern in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. He slipped after catching a screen pass from quarterback Andrew Luck. Wayne was slow to get up, causing Luck to sprint over to see if his go-to receiver was OK. Wayne returned to the game after going to the sideline for one play. He finished with nine catches for 98 yards.

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Wayne tore his ACL against Denver in Week 7 last season.

“As I’m slipping, going to the ground, it seemed like everything went into slow motion. It seemed like I could see everything happening all over again,” Wayne said on the show. “I do understand why there are four preseason games because my whole body hurts. I feel like I’ve been hit by a Mack Truck because I didn’t get many reps [in the preseason].

“Then you realize it’s almost been a year since I put pads on and played a full game, and I can tell you it was tough sleeping [Monday] night, but it’s a great soreness just on the strength that I’m back in action. I’m back out there with my teammates. I feel great now. I feel a thousand times better, but at the time, it did affect me a bit.”

Wayne also touched on Robert Mathis ’ suspension. Mathis is now out for the season after tearing his Achilles while working out in Atlanta.

Mathis
“I am not allowed to talk to Robert Mathis at all, and he’s a neighbor,” Wayne said. “What am I supposed to do if we’re checking the mail at the same time? I don’t know. … That’s tough. Me and Robert Mathis are super close. I’m not sure why that is the reason or if there is a reason, but like I said earlier, I’m just here to serve. Whatever the rules say, we just have to follow them.”

Wayne on the Ray Rice situation:

“I do not know Ray Rice, at all,” Wayne said. “Two, to the video that everyone has seen, it’s real disturbing. It really is. It’s something you don’t want to see with anybody. I don’t condone that. I don’t think you should put your hands on a female. And three, as far as if he was a teammate of mine, I honestly don’t know how I would respond. I would be disappointed, but at the same time, I know he’s a brother. I wouldn’t completely just cut him off. I’d find a way to be there with him. I’d still want to talk to him just to see what’s going on. At the same time, we don’t know what he told his teammates, either. I don’t know what I would do, but I’d definitely find a way to be there for him because at the end of the day he’s still a teammate, he’s still a brother and that’s what we do; we stick together and we figure it out together.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck routinely finds a way to score a touchdown.

There was the time he faked the handoff to running back Trent Richardson and went in untouched for a 6-yard touchdown against San Francisco in Week 3 last season. And Luck was in the right spot at the right time when he grabbed the loose ball and dove in the end zone against Kansas City in the playoffs last season.

Luck
But Luck wasn't creative enough against the Denver Broncos Sunday night.

Luck is still upset over his decision to rush the Colts to the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-goal from Denver’s 1-yard line and attempt a quarterback sneak. Luck was stuffed behind the line of scrimmage by Broncos defenders

“Stupid decision because they loaded the box and we’re prepared for it,” Luck said. “We didn’t necessarily have the personnel on the field for that type of play.”

Luck didn’t look over to the sideline after receiver Hakeem Nicks was tackled just short of the goal line because he said he and the coaching staff talked earlier in the drive on what they would if put in a short-yardage situation.

The Colts could have cut Denver’s lead to 24-14 if Luck would have scored on the play.

“Bad, bad decision and it cost us seven points or three points or whatever would have happened,” Luck said. “If I take a timeout, change the play, whatever it is. Stupid decision, won’t make it again. Learn from it and keep trucking along and have a good week of practice coming up.”

Colts coach Chuck Pagano took the blame for the play Monday.

“I think as the head football coach, I’ve got to do a better job of managing that situation for our entire football team,” he said. “It’s not on just Andrew.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- Will Robert Mathis regain his form so that he can terrorize opposing quarterbacks?

It’s a question that had to be asked given the circumstances.

Mathis
The Indianapolis Colts linebacker’s 2014 season is likely over because an Achilles injury. This isn’t the first time an athlete has dealt with an Achilles injury, but Mathis is 33 years old and uses his speed to get around tackles in rushing the quarterback.

“Only the man upstairs knows what he’s going through in his mind,” defensive lineman Cory Redding said. “When I talk to him, keep his head up, I tell him to just stay focused and stay positive. That’ll help his injuries heal faster. I know he’s a warrior and he wants to be out on the field with us. I know the kind of man Robert is, and he’s going to fight back, rehab and do whatever it is he has to do to get back on this field. He loves this team. He loves this game. That’s what I know he’s going to do.”

This isn’t the first time that a Colts player in his 30s has been questioned about his ability to return from a season-ending injury. There were plenty of questions on whether Reggie Wayne could return from a torn ACL at 35 years old. All Wayne did was catch nine passes for 98 yards against the Denver Broncos this past Sunday.

That’s why it’s normal to wonder if Mathis will still have his high motor once he's healthy. The Colts hope he does because Mathis is scheduled to make $7 million in 2015.

“At Reggie’s age everybody said, ‘No way, Reggie’s done,’” coach Chuck Pagano said. “So he goes out and just catches nine balls and looked like Reggie of old. So Robert and our whole team, Reggie included, everybody will rally around Robert and support Robert in whatever transpires once he gets up here and we figure out what’s going on, and if he has to have surgery. Whatever happens, we are going to support him and get through it.

“He’s got a lot of people in this building to look to that have overcome. Like we say, adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it ... It’s a tough, tough pill to swallow, and right now they’re just absorbing it, the enormity of it and the shock of the whole thing. But the sun’s going to come up, and like Reggie, I know he’ll get through whatever he’s going to have to deal with and he’ll be back on the playing field.”
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Adversity has been nothing new for the Indianapolis Colts in recent years.

Coach Chuck Pagano missed 12 games in 2012 while battling leukemia. They lost five offensive starters, including receiver Reggie Wayne, last season. Owner Jim Irsay is currently serving a six-game suspension.

The franchise has managed to shake the adversity off each time.

Their latest setback won't be as easy to overcome.

The Colts got word Monday morning that outside linebacker Robert Mathis suffered an Achilles injury recently that will likely end his 2014 season without him ever playing snap. The injury happened while Mathis was working out in Atlanta as tried to stay in shape during his four-game suspension.

Mathis
Pagano stood behind the podium late Monday afternoon, talking like a person who knows it's impossible to replace Mathis' 19.5 sacks and countless quarterback pressures.

"Like Reggie [Wayne] last year when we lost Reggie, it's the same thing," Pagano said. "You have your warrior, your leader in your locker room, leader of your team and that presence. It was missed last night [against Denver], and now it'll be missed. He'll still be here. I don't want to speculate, get ahead of the deal, but that plays a major part of being around guys, drawing from his energy and his passion and the way he plays."

The Colts have a phrase they constantly use when a player goes down with an injury: Next Man Up.

That saying worked fine without the five offensive starters last season because that unit will always be fine as long as quarterback Andrew Luck is taking the snaps.

The same cannot be said about the defense.

The reality is the Colts don't have a Next Man Up on defense. They've proven that so far this season. Counting the preseason, the Colts' starting defense has recorded only three sacks in five games. Mathis' presence on the field causes problems for the other team because the quarterback always has to account for where he's at on the field due to his ability to get strip-sacks.

"I think we've had moments, showed signs that we can get after the quarterback," Pagano said. "We just have to do it more consistently."

A lack of a pass rush puts more pressure on the secondary. Most quarterbacks will pick the defense apart when given time to sit back in the pocket.

"The thing about this league is nobody really cares what we're going though and what we're dealing with, to be honest with you," Pagano said. "We have no choice. We will get through it by any means necessary."

The Colts should still win the AFC South, but their goal to get to the Super Bowl suffered a substantial blow with the news Mathis' injury.

Indianapolis' success has always centered around Luck. That's even more the case now without Mathis. It's similar to what Peyton Manning had to do during the majority of his 13 years with the franchise.

"It's always collectively as a group, all of us to go out, perform and do a good job," Colts defensive lineman Cory Redding said. "But at that position, we know there has to come special players. Rob is one of them. When he's not in, we need people to step up and make plays. The guys know who they are that play that position. We're looking for them to do their job. I have all the confidence in the world that my teammates will answer the bell."
INDIANAPOLIS -- An examination of what the Indianapolis Colts must do after their 31-24 loss to the Denver Broncos:

The Colts had eight trips inside Broncos territory Sunday. They scored on only half of those trips because of mistakes or bad decision-making. The Colts squandered several opportunities that would have allowed them to put pressure on the Broncos early in the game and a few more that hurt them while trying to come back.

Luck
Quarterback Andrew Luck finished 35-of-53 for 370 yards and two touchdowns, but he wasn’t mistake-free, either. He put too much air under several throws and he tried to force the ball into tight end Dwyane Allen on his first interception.

Here’s a breakdown of how the four scoreless drives the Colts had in Denver territory ended:
  • The Colts had third-and-1 at Denver’s 36. Luck threw an incompletion, and a delay of game penalty knocked Indy out of field goal range.
  • Luck (who later admitted it was a mistake) rushed the offense to the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-goal from the Broncos' 1-yard line. Luck tried a quarterback keeper up the middle but was stuffed by a handful of Denver defenders.
  • Luck’s second interception was tipped at Denver’s 32-yard line when the Colts were down 31-17.
  • A false start put the Colts in a third-and-15 situation. Receiver T.Y. Hilton got 9 of those yards back on third down before the Colts’ comeback attempt ended on an incomplete pass from Luck to Reggie Wayne at Denver’s 39 on fourth down.

Also, early in the fourth quarter the defense caused a fumble, but the Broncos ended up recovering the loose ball because two defenders failed to fall on it. Denver scored a touchdown several plays later to go up 31-10.

Those mistakes have to be limited because, like Denver, the Philadelphia Eagles, who the Colts play next Monday, have a quick-strike offense that puts up a lot of points and works quickly to make teams pay for their mistakes. The Eagles came back from 17 points down to score the final 34 points in their victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
A quick look at the Indianapolis Colts' Week 2 opponent.

Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Record: 1-0, beat Jacksonville Jaguars 34-17 in Week 1

2014 statistical leaders:

Passing: Nick Foles 27-of-45, 322 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: LeSean McCoy 21 carries, 74 yards

Receiving: Jeremy Maclin 4 receptions, 97 yards, 1 TD

Key additions: Running back Darren Sproles, safety Malcolm Jenkins

Last meeting: Eagles 26, Colts 24 (2010)

Of note: The Colts will have their hands full with Chip Kelly’s offense. The Eagles spotted the Jaguars the first 17 points of the game before running off 34 consecutive points -- all in the second half -- on Sunday. Sproles (71 yards) and McCoy (74 yards) combined for 145 yards rushing. Foles completed passes to eight different receivers. The Colts will have an opportunity to get to Foles, as Jacksonville sacked him five times.

Ahmad Bradshaw didn't run from contact

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Reggie Wayne's return was obviously the biggest highlight for the Indianapolis Colts Sunday. The 35-year-old receiver finished with nine catches for 98 yards in his first regular-season game since tearing his ACL last October.

Bradshaw
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was also making his debut after having his 2013 season end after Week 3.

Bradshaw averaged 5.0 yards on his three carries and contributed 70 yards on five receptions out of the backfield against the Denver Broncos.

“I just want to increase my role and help the team out as much as I can,” Bradshaw said. “It felt great getting out there again trying to help the team.”

Bradshaw didn’t play like a player who was coming off neck surgery. He embraced taking hits instead of avoiding contact by going out of bounds if the opportunity presented itself.

“That’s the way I am,” Bradshaw said. “It’s just instincts. I can’t go out of bounds. I love trying to get that extra yard.”

Starting running back Trent Richardson had six rushes for 20 yards to go with three catches for 31 yards.
DENVER -- Remember when the Indianapolis Colts' starting defense shut down the New York Jets and Giants in their first two preseason games?

Thomas
Seems like a long time ago the way it has struggled to defend two of the best tight ends in the NFL. It started with Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 23 and carried over the Denver’s Julius Thomas on Sunday.

Thomas had seven catches for 104 yards and three touchdowns.

"He’s a monster, a really, really good player," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He is a matchup and a nightmare. Credit them, they did a nice job of moving him around and getting him in position to make the plays. Of course (Peyton Manning) was really good again and got the ball to those guys and found those matchups."

The Colts added D'Qwell Jackson from Cleveland to go with Jerrell Freeman as their middle linebackers.

Thomas picked on both of them.

It started when Thomas lined up on the outside isolated against Freeman. The tight end got a step on Freeman and Manning threw a perfect ball where only Thomas could catch it. Thomas later beat Freeman for a 3-yard touchdown.

Thomas got his second touchdown when he had Jackson beat by several yards and scored from 35 yards away.

Beating the Colts’ linebackers wasn’t challenging enough, so Thomas decided to embarrass safety LaRon Landry.

Lined up on the outside again, Thomas made a fake and cut back inside, leaving Landry stumbling, for an easy 5-yard touchdown reception.

Thomas had 90 of his 107 yards in the first half.

"You are working with an all-pro, all-world, quarterback (Manning) and that helps," Jackson said. "(Thomas) is a great talent, he fits what they do well scheme-wise and they work to their strengths. They are not overly complicated, but they execute well and they are really good at what they do, and he works well with that system."

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