The road question.
That’s what’s on the minds of the Indianapolis Colts’ coaches and players as the team gears up for Sunday’s trip to LP Field in Nashville and a matchup with AFC South rival Tennessee.
Seven weeks into the 2012 season, the Indianapolis Colts have won three of its four home games at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis, however, is 0-2 on the road, losing to Chicago 41-21 in the season opener and to the New York Jets 34-9 two weeks ago.
In the two road losses, the Colts have been outscored 76-30, are averaging 15 points a game and have turned the football over a combined nine times (eight on offense and one on special teams).
Indianapolis, meanwhile, is averaging 25 points a game in its three wins and 23 points in all four home games.
So what gives?
“You’ve got to learn how to finish the game and protect the football. For us, it’s protect the football, create some turnovers, and we did a nice job at home of getting off to fast starts. We need to get off to a better start on the road,” interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said this week.
“We had a shot at it in New York. We had a chance to go down and put a touchdown on the board and get the crowd out of it. So that’s the main goal [against the Titans]. Get a good, strong start offensively and play solid defense early.”
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck has not played well enough in the two road losses — and he knows it.
With the Colts falling behind quickly in both games, Luck has been forced to throw the ball more than the original gameplan called for.
He is averaging 45 pass attempts for both road losses, connecting on 45 of 89 passes for 589 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions. The Colts’ No. 1 draft pick also has lost fumbles in each game.
For Indianapolis to enjoy any kind of success away from home, the turnovers need to stop. Overall production — both offensively defensively — has to pick up.
“I think you have to be a little bit more cut-throat [on the road]. You realize it’s a business trip. Don’t get caught up in anything outside of that. Realize it’s still a football field. The end zones are 100 yards in between and don’t stray from the gameplan,” Luck assessed.
“Trust each other and realize to find a way to feed off the opponent’s crowd as opposed to feeding off your home crowd, which our home crowds have been great for us so far.”
Concentration. Focus. The Colts know that playing at noisy LP Field against a divisional opponent won’t be an easy task.
“Maybe it just requires a little more focus, a little more attention to detail,” the Indianapolis quarterback said.
“And hopefully those [turnovers] will come down because we realize if we continue on that path, with averaging four [turnovers] a game on the road, we will be lucky to win one game on the road.”
For cornerback Jerraud Powers, how the Colts play Sunday against the Titans will go a long way in determining how the rest of the team’s season will play itself out.
“Got to win on the road. Got to win on the road. This will be a big, big road test for us with Tennessee. They know us. We know them. It’s always a dogfight whenever we play those guys,” Powers said.
“Going to Tennessee, they always have a good crowd. So it’ll be a fun one to play on the road, but definitely an AFC South game. [We] want to win that and get our first victory on the road as well.”
I I I
n Chapman practicing — Rookie nose tackle Josh Chapman, the Colts’ fifth-round draft pick last spring, practiced for the first time Wednesday. He will remain on the reserve/non-football injury list for now.
Team officials will have up to three weeks from today to elevate Chapman — who suffered a knee injury as a senior at Alabama last season — to the 53-man active roster or he will remain on the reserve/non-football injury list for the rest of the season. He has not practiced with the team since being drafted.
Chapman has been rehabbing since Jan. 17 when he underwent surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Dr. James Andrews also performed a lateral meniscus repair during the medical procedure.
“Pretty much, [his return date was] right on target. He was targeted eligible to come back early. We didn’t know if we’d get him back at all, but he’s progressed nicely,” Arians said. “No worries right now about where he’s at physically. I look forward to seeing him out on the field. I think he’s really excited, as excited as we are to see him out there.”
His chances of playing sometime this season?
“We’ll see how it goes. We’ve got some decent depth [on the defensive line] right now. We want to take our time with him. If he’s ready to play, we’ll play him because he’s a great talent and he’ll give us a boost in there. So we just have to find out,” the Colts’ assistant coach said.
The former Alabama defensive lineman was initially hurt against Florida in October but played the remainder of the season with the injury. A 6-foot, 316-pounder, Chapman was thought to be one of the premier nose tackles available in the draft.
He reportedly bench-pressed almost 600 pounds with a 630-pound squat prior to the injury.
“He’s got to play football. He played on one leg last year. Learn to play on two and see how it feels. Give him hopefully a week or two and then we’ll reevaluate it,” Arians said. “He’s so strong, quick, powerful. He’s got every attribute you want in a nose guard. He’s extremely quick and can move the center of the pocket. He’s a good pass rusher for a short guy.”
n Roster move — The Colts signed outside linebacker Monte Simmons to the practice squad Tuesday evening.
Simmons (6-3, 226) spent last season on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State on July 28, 2011. He was then signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles on March 5, 2012, and was waived Aug. 30.
n Injury list — Sitting out Wednesday’s practice were outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (ankle), cornerback Darius Butler (shoulder), outside linebacker Robert Mathis (knee), defensive tackle Fili Moala (knee) and nose tackle Antonio Johnson (illness).
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer (foot), running back Donald Brown (knee) and offensive tackle Winston Justice (ankle) saw limited work. Offensive guard Joe Reitz (knee), nose tackle Martin Tevaseu (ankle), defensive end Cory Redding (knee) and Luck (knee) all fully participated in the workout.
Brown underwent knee surgery after the Green Bay game and was expected to miss four to six weeks. He might be back in two. No other information was immediately known on Luck’s knee issue, but it’s not considered to be serious.
“[Brown is progressing] extremely well. We’ve got our fingers crossed and we’ll see how he’s doing [Wednesday],” Arians said. “After we see him and they’ve got to work on it, do football moves and see what kind of swelling occurs and then we’ll go from there.”
As for the other injuries that have kept players out of the lineup, there is a chance some of them could return for the Tennessee game.
“We are ready to roll. Darius Butler and Fili Moala [did] not practice [Wednesday]. All the rest of the hands are on deck and ready to go. We’ll see what we get out of each guy and progress throughout the week,” the Colts’ interim coach said, adding that none of the players on the injury list have been ruled out of the Titans matchup just yet.
The road question.
Colts not standing pat in looking toward 2013 season
Indianapolis Colts second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has quickly earned a reputation as someone who isn’t afraid to shake things up a bit.
Landry believes he'll acclimate to Colts system
Many Indianapolis fans have questioned why strong safety Laron Landry decided to skip the Colts' OTA workouts, especially since he was joining a new team with a somewhat different defensive system than what he was used to playing with the Jets.
He understands their concerns, but isn’t worried about learning the intricacies Colts’ 3-4 hybrid package.
Colts in harmony with new coordinator Hamilton
With new Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton now running the show, the Colts are in the middle of a metamorphosis from the downfield, big-play system that was utilized by former coordinator Bruce Arians to more of a West Coast scheme that will look to make more use of the short, controlled passing game.
According to Andrew Luck, so far so good.
- Pagano amazed by collection of veterans
Opening Day: Terre Haute Rex host Quincy
In his first season at the helm, first-year Terre Haute Rex manager Ronnie Prettyman is going to be surrounded by men he knows and trusts.
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.
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