INDIANAPOLIS — Tony Dungy doesn’t expect a whole lot of surprises from either team when the Indianapolis Colts face the San Diego Chargers in an AFC wildcard game Saturday night.
The fact that matchup will be the fourth meeting in the last two seasons between the Colts and Chargers means that both franchises know each other pretty well by now.
The key for Indianapolis to be successful on defense, coach Tony Dungy said, centers on his team’s ability to put pressure on San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers throughout the game.
“I think it’ll be very important. That was big in the last playoff game [against the Chargers] that we lost [at the RCA Dome last season]. We didn’t get much pressure, didn’t get around him. They threw a lot of deep balls up the field, made big plays. We need to be better than we were in the  playoffs game for sure,” the Colts coach said before the start of Thursday’s workout.
Rivers finished the 2008 regular season as the NFL’s top-rated passer with a team-record 105.5 rating. He set a franchise record with 34 touchdown passes, which led the league this season, while throwing for 4,009 yards.
“[San Diego has been] making big plays. And they’ve always been a big play offense. The mistakes are down. The thing that I see most is the fourth-quarter scoring. They’ve scored a ton of points in the fourth quarter,” Dungy said.
“When they’ve had to move the ball and had to get points, they’ve done it. That’s probably the mark of a great quarterback, how you do in the pressure situations.”
• Hagler earns starting job — Tyjuan Hagler, who has been bothered by a series of injuries since being a fifth-round draft pick in 2005, has worked his way back into the starting defensive lineup for the Colts.
Hagler will start at weak side linebacker against San Diego Saturday night, with Freddy Keiaho moving inside to middle linebacker Clint Session will remain as Indianapolis’ starting strong side linebacker.
The move was made in an effort to help bolster the team’s inconsistent run defense as well as getting the team’s best three linebackers on the field at the same time. Starting middle linebacker Gary Brackett is out indefinitely with a broken right fibula.
Buster Davis took over at middle linebacker for the final four regular season games, but Keiaho has had experience in the middle as well. Davis will remain as the primary backup in the middle.
“That’s the way we’ve practiced and they look pretty comfortable. Buster Davis will be the first substitute if we have any injuries. That’s probably the way we would start the game,” Dungy said Thursday.
There is no timetable for when Brackett may be able to return to practice, although there is an outside chance that he may start to get some work in next week should the Colts register a win over San Diego.
“It’s hard to say [when Brackett will return]. He still hasn’t practiced yet, so I don’t think it’s imminent. I think if he could get out and practice next week, we would certainly play him. I don’t know where he is. We’ll find that out, probably, on Tuesday if we win,” the Colts coach said.
• Injury list — Rookie offensive linemen Jamey Richard (ankle) and Mike Pollak (foot/ankle) missed a third day of practice on Thursday. Their availability for the Chargers’ game remains undecided. If neither Pollak and Richard are given the green light to play this weekend, third-year veteran Dan Federkeil will take over at right offensive guard.
“[Federkeil will] do fine. He’s practiced well, and he’ll do fine,” Dungy said, adding that he hasn’t decided on whether Richard would see any work at offensive guard if he’s able to play.
Returning to practice Thursday were rookie defensive tackle Eric Foster (finger), rookie wide receiver Pierre Garcon (knee), cornerback Tim Jennings (rest), cornerback Keiwan Ratliff (groin), and safety Bob Sanders (knee). Rookie running back Chad Simpson (rest), Richard, Pollak and Brackett did not take part in the workout.
The Colts, who have been hit hard by injuries to key players this season, would appear to be as healthy as they’ve been in a while as they continue to make preparations for the Chargers game.
“Obviously, we’d like to have Gary [Brackett]. Everybody would like to have all of their guys, but I think we just look at last year’s [playoff] game and how San Diego was. They’re missing guys and guys get hurt in the course of the game and other guys step in and play,” Dungy said.
“I think that’s what good teams do. You’re at a point where you can’t worry about who’s not there. You have to play, and the guys that play will determine the game.”
• MVP Award to be announced today — The Associated Press is expected to announce the winner of the 2008 National Football League Most Valuable Player award sometime today.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is considered to be one of leading candidates for the honor this season. Manning won the award in 2003 (sharing it with former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair) and again in 2004.
“I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t win [the MVP award] based on how we played and what we had to do to get back in it and the performance he’s had the last nine weeks of the year. I said after we left Pittsburgh [on Nov. 9] that I would vote for [Pittsburgh outside linebacker] James Harrison. If I was voting today, I’d vote for Peyton Manning,” Dungy said.
“I’ve seen some stretches where he’s been hotter, but how we’ve done it and the fact that they’ve been must win games from November 1 on and how he’s prepared, that’s the thing that people don’t see. As far as making the throws and being hot and putting up big numbers, we had a stretch in  that I didn’t know if I’d see anything like that again and probably won’t. But, for winning under pressure and doing it consistently when we needed it, this has been a great stretch.”
INDIANAPOLIS — Tony Dungy doesn’t expect a whole lot of surprises from either team when the Indianapolis Colts face the San Diego Chargers in an AFC wildcard game Saturday night.
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.
Pagano marvels at Colt’s progress
In the minutes after last Sunday’s win over AFC South champion Houston, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano marveled at how the 2012 season has progressed for his team.
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