Heading into Sunday’s game with the Houston Texans (1 p.m., Reliant Stadium, CBS), it’s safe to say that the Indianapolis Colts have a point to prove.
Almost to a man, the Colts are preparing for their 2011 season opener wanting to show the rest of the National Football League — as well as more than a few members of the media — that they’re more than just a one-man team.
The news Thursday that four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning would be sidelined indefinitely has caused many writers, broadcasters and fans to write off Indianapolis as a playoff contender this year. In fact, the general consensus is that the Colts will be lucky to reach the .500 mark without Manning at the helm of the team’s offense.
The perception of Indianapolis as a rudderless ship without their star quarterback leading the way cuts deep with many players, although some are trying harder than others to keep that chip on their shoulders well hidden.
“I think [some members of the media] have been doing that for the last three or four years as I recall, right?,” Coach Jim Caldwell said Friday when asked about the Colts’ predicted fall from AFC and Super Bowl contender status.
“But we’ve never been a team that has had to resort to being motivated by external circumstances, what people say and think. Our men show a lot of resolve in a lot of very difficult situations. We try to talk to them in that vein. That’s part of my job. But I do think that our guys are focused and ready to go. They’re not really concerned about anything other than the fact that our mission is to win. We don’t make excuses. We expect our guys to be able to step up and perform the way that we anticipate they’re capable of performing.”
Defensive end Robert Mathis, normally a quiet force in the Indianapolis locker room, says that the Colts — especially the team’s much-maligned defensive unit — can’t worry about who or who’s not playing.
“We’re not going to be making excuses about anybody,” Mathis pointed out. “I don’t care who’s in or who’s out. That’s just not what we do. We come to play every Sunday. If you want to count us out, by all means do that.
“This team has a big heart. It helps a lot. It keeps everybody calm. That’s from way back in the Tony Dungy days. We have poise. Just control what you can. Everybody’s going to work. Everybody’s going to get the job done.”
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne just shrugged his shoulders when asked about the negative comments about the team’s playoff aspirations.
“What are you going to do about it? There’s nothing you can do. Either let it go on deaf ears or you let it bother you. I think everybody in this locker room has dealt with it the same way, and that is to not let it bother us at all. We don’t feel like we have to prove anything to anybody, and we’re going to go out there and it’s going to be the same mentality. We want to go out there and win,” Wayne said Friday.
“We just want to win, and we just want to play football. That’s not going to change whether it’s [No.] 18 playing quarterback, [No. 5] playing quarterback or [No. 7] playing quarterback. If they decide to put [No.] 87 at quarterback, then I’ll go out there, and I’m sure they’ll rally around me also.”
• Christensen impressed with veteran players — Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen says he expects the Colts’ offensive veterans — Wayne, tight end Dallas Clark, among others — to pick up the slack with Manning gone for the foreseeable future.
“Last year we had [wide receiver Austin] Collie and Dallas and [running back Joseph] Addai all down. Guys just come into our locker room and go. I just think that’s why we’ve been so consistent. This has felt the same,” Christensen said.
“[A week ago we were] trying to prepare a 13-year veteran in this offense with a guy that’s been here two days. [The veterans] just keep playing. I think that’s an amazing phenomenon around here. I’ll be shocked if you see anything different [at Houston]. They’ll all come out. They’ll play. No one talks much. Everyone just comes out and does their job. We put a premium on leadership, which has always kind of been to our advantage. We have great leaders. We have great character guys in every room. At the end of the day, it’s their team. They own this team. They’ve always owned this team. They’ll get things right.”
• 9/11 shoes — Wayne and safety Antoine Bethea are among a handful of NFL players expected to wear special shoes on Sunday.
The Reebok brand shoes are decorated with stars and stripes in order to honor those who died during the 9/11 attacks 10 years ago.
“Absolutely. Shoes, gloves, or whatever else Reebok makes. I’m going to wear it, and wear it proudly. It will definitely be the best fine I ever have to pay,” Wayne said. “Think about it man. That’s an important time in our life. A lot of people lost plenty of loved ones. It’s history.
“Your grandchildren and children after that, they will be hearing about that. It’s definitely a time where it needs to be recognized, and that’s a way for guys to put their two cents in.”
While league officials generally frown on players not wearing what is considered to be regulation equipment, they are not expected to issue fines to those wearing the commemorative shoes.
According to Pro Football Talk.com, however, the league office informed all 32 teams Friday that players are allowed to wear special shoes and gloves to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, as long as those special shoes and gloves are made by companies that have sponsorship deals with the NFL.
• Injury list — The only player listed as out for the Texans game is Manning. Safety Antoine Bethea (hamstring); wide receivers Austin Collie (foot), Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring), and Blair White (back); and rookie defensive tackle Drake Nevis (foot) are questionable.
Bethea, Collie, and Gonzalez fully participated in Friday’s practice. White was limited. Nevis did not practice.
Heading into Sunday’s game with the Houston Texans (1 p.m., Reliant Stadium, CBS), it’s safe to say that the Indianapolis Colts have a point to prove.
Luck having fun with his first OTAs
A year ago, quarterback Andrew Luck was unable to attend the Indianapolis Colts’ organized team activity practices due to school commitments at Stanford.
Luck, though, went on to have a stellar year for the Colts despite the lack of summer work with the team. Still, in a sense, he is a rookie during this year’s OTA workouts.
“These are my first OTAs. I missed these last year, so I think it’s great. It’s great to get on the field with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff. Obviously, some of us ran some of this stuff [offense] at Stanford [under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton]. But to get out there with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff is good,” Luck said Wednesday as the team wrapped up its first week of on-field voluntary practice sessions.
Colts' coordinators enjoying getting rookies acclimated
While the Indianapolis Colts put their rookies and a handful of second-year players through workouts this weekend at the team’s Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, a pair of first-year coordinators are getting a chance to do some valuable on-field work as well.
Werner, 36 others open Colts’ mini camp
The Indianapolis Colts welcomed 37 players to the start of the team’s rookie mini camp Friday at the West 56th Street headquarters.
Colts hoping for more high marks on draft picks
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts received high marks for the impact players the team added through the NFL draft.
Of the 10 players selected, five ended up either starting or seeing extensive playing time (quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and running back Vick Ballard) during the Colts’ 11-5 season.
While this year’s class may not rival that group in terms of name recognition and flash, it may produce just as many major contributors once the 2013 season gets underway.
Werner at top of game
Bjoern Werner was a late comer to football. But after being selected in the first round of the 2013 National Football League draft by the Indianapolis Colts, Werner realizes that he has reached the pinnacle of the sport in a relatively short amount of time.
Colts select pass rusher Werner in first round
The Indianapolis Colts selected Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner. The 6-foot-3, 266-pound defensive lineman can also play left outside linebacker.
Colts in wait-and-see mode for tonight’s NFL draft
As the 2013 NFL draft gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Indianapolis Colts are continuing their wait-and-see stance in regard to the first-round pick.
The draft begins at 8 p.m. — televised by the NFL Network and ESPN — with the Kansas City Chiefs making the night’s first selection. Teams will have 10 minutes to make their decisions during the first round. Indianapolis will have the 24th overall pick in the first round.
There will be only one round tonight. The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with seven minutes allotted per pick in the second round and five minutes allowed in the third. The final four rounds are slated to begin at noon Saturday with four minutes between selections.
As it stands now, Indianapolis does not have a second-round pick. It was traded to Miami last fall in exchange for veteran cornerback Vontae Davis. But second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has nut ruled out the possibility of trading down from the first round if the Colts aren’t satisfied with the players available.
Direction clear for Colts in 2013 draft
The Indianapolis Colts head into the 2013 NFL Draft with some definite plans.
Colts veteran among those excited to see Luck's growth in 2013-14
Veteran defensive end Cory Redding is a big fan — literally and figuratively — of Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck.
Redding, who has become one of the Colts’ lockerroom leaders after just one season with the team, thinks he has some reasonable expectations of Indianapolis’ former No. 1 draft pick.
Heyward-Bey feeling fortunate to hook up with Luck
Add one more player to the list of veteran free agents signed by the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.
Former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey agreed to a a deal with the Colts late Monday evening. Bey, who played collegiately at Maryland, was the seventh player selected in the first round of the 2009 National Football League draft.
Colts sign nose tackle
Another day, more player signings for the Indianapolis Colts.
Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin agreed to terms with the Colts on Tuesday evening and officially signed with the team Wednesday. Franklin (6-1, 315) is a 10-year NFL veteran with stops in Baltimore (2003-06), San Francisco (2007-10), New Orleans (2011) and San Diego (2012).
Colts sign Matt Hasselbeck to back up Luck
The Indianapolis Colts’ roster moves just keep coming.
While the Colts haven’t yet added that big-name wide receiver that team owner Jim Irsay hinted at in tweets over the weekend, Indianapolis has addressed one area on offense.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had agreed Monday night to be the Colts’ primary back-up to second-year starter Andrew Luck. He officially signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the team Tuesday morning.
“We are very pleased to announce the signing of Matt Hasselbeck,” general manager Ryan Grigson said in a prepared statement. “His body of work, intangibles, and extensive league experience speak for themselves. Those factors, plus his familiarity with our offensive scheme, will make him a great asset to our team and its vision as we move forward.”
Colts likely done signing free agents, for now
With the possible exception of adding a few lesser-priced players, the Indianapolis Colts’ big-time foray into the veteran free-agent marketplace is pretty much done.
Landry, Jean Francois join Colts defensive unit
After adding five veteran free agent players to the Indianapolis Colts roster on Tuesday, general manager Ryan Grigson plucked two more plums late Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.
New York Jets safety LaRon Landry and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois both signed contracts with the Colts. Landry, a strong safety who appears to be a bigger version of former Indianapolis Pro Bowler Bob Sanders, and the versatile Jean-Francois are expected to make immediate impacts on the Colts’ defensive unit.
Colts introduce free-agent signees
What the Indianapolis Colts accomplished last season — posting an 11-5 record and earning an AFC wild-card berth with a young team plus having that kind of success without its head coach on the sidelines for 12 games — didn’t go unnoticed by players around the NFL.
That was especially true for the five veteran free agents who were added to the Colts’ roster Tuesday. Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (Detroit), cornerback Greg Toler (Arizona), outside linebacker Erik Walden (Green Bay), offensive guard Donald Thomas (New England) and linebacker Lawrence Sidbury (Atlanta) admitted as much Wednesday.
“I felt like this would be the best fit for me at this point in my career. I really liked what I saw was happening with the program here and the way things have taken shape. I feel like we have a really great team here and it’s on the rise. I really wanted to be a part of that,” Thomas said during a teleconference interview with the Colts’ media.
Colts sign five free agents, filling needs at offensive line, cornerback
The Indianapolis Colts were a busy team on the opening day of the National Football League’s veteran free agent market, which got underway at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Jeff Saturday retires as a Colt
An Indianapolis Colt for life. Pencil in Jeff Saturday for that honor.
The 14-year veteran center in the NFL put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — when Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday thrilled to retire as a Colt
The 14-year veteran center in the National Football League put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in-between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — that Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday to retire as Colt on Thursday
Former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday will make his retirement from the National Football League official on Thursday.
Indianapolis franchises punter McAfee
A week ago, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said it was a priority that the team retain the services of punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee, an unrestricted free agent who’s contract is due to expire March 12, was designated as the Colts’ franchise player Friday. The move allows Indianapolis extra time to work out a long-term deal for the team’s special-teams ace.
“He’s huge. He’s a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we’ve reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed,” Pagano said during the National Football Scouting Combine. “We saw what he did for us last year. He’s a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touchbacks.
Colts GM enjoying time at combine
Indianapolis Colts second-year general manager Ryan Grigson makes no bones about it. He enjoys watching prospective football players strut their stuff.
Colts keeping eye on large crop of talented linemen in NFL Draft
According to most National Football League draft observers, this year’s crop of prospects is deep with quality offensive and defensive linemen.
Among the offensive line candidates who have been showcasing their talents at the National Football Scouting Combine, which began in earnest Thursday and wraps up on Tuesday, the spotlight has been on the offensive tackles. Offensive left tackles in particular.
Colts' Pagano back to full work schedule at combine
Back and ready to go.
That’s the attitude Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is taking during the National Football Scouting Combine, which completed its second day of operations Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. During a wide-ranging press conference at the combine, Pagano confirmed that he is back to a full work regimen after missing 12 games last fall as he battled a rare form of leukemia.
After undergoing cancer treatments that featured heavy doses of chemotherapy, the second-year head coach was able to return to the sidelines for Indianapolis’ final regular-season home game against Houston and for the team’s AFC wild-card matchup with eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
Colts looking forward to different approach to draft in 2013
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick in the 2012 National Football League draft.
It was a foregone conclusion that the Colts would select former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the selection. While Indianapolis front office and player personnel officials certainly had to do their due diligence in preparing for the draft, the Colts find themselves this year in a bit different situation.
The team will have the 24th overall pick in the first round, which is a double-edged sword. Indianapolis picks lower in the round due to a successful season. But the pool of available can’t-miss talent isn’t quite as plentiful as drafting earlier in the round.
Former Pro Bowl selection Freeney won't return to Colts
The news coming out of the Indianapolis Colts headquarters Friday afternoon was not totally unexpected. Team officials have confirmed that two veteran players – former Pro Bowl defensive end/outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Austin Collie — will not be returning for the 2013 season.
Colts’ new offensive coordinator will offer variety
Quarterback Andrew Luck running the Pistol offense? Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton lining up in the Wildcat?
Colts moving on to the off season
Moving on. That’s the immediate plans for the Indianapolis Colts as they head into the off season.
Baltimore ends Indy’s playoff run early
The Baltimore Ravens want one long final ride for Ray Lewis. Having disposed of Andrew Luck and the Colts, they now face a more imposing challenge.
Next up, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Switching sides: Colts-Ravens matchup includes old friends on new teams
Just as Baltimore Ravens players and coaches will be seeing some old friends returning to M&T Bank Stadium today, several Indianapolis Colts veterans will also have an opportunity to renew acquaintances with a familiar face.
Pagano prepares Colts for tough crowd in Baltimore
As a former resident of Baltimore, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano knows all about the hard feelings that still run strong about the move of the Colts franchise to Indianapolis in 1984.
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