INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts expect a heavy dose of the New York Jets running game during Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, which is scheduled for a 3 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium.
New York had the National Football League’s top-ranked rushing attack, led by Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene and Leon Washington. While Washington is injured and sidelined for the remainder of the year, the combination of Jones and Greene have proven to be a formidable duo during the postseason.
Indianapolis, though, has displayed an improved run defense this year. Although it’s an area that has caused the Colts and their fans headaches in the past, the team’s run defense has been able to slow down such runners as Tennessee’s Chris Johnson, Baltimore’s Ray Rice and Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew.
Johnson, the NFL’s leading rusher this year with 2,006 yards, averaged just 73.5 yards in two meetings with the Colts. Rice, meanwhile, had 138 total rushing yards (an average of 69 yards per game) in both of his appearances against Indianapolis. Jones-Drew did the best of the three, going for 207 yards in two games and averaging just over 100 yards per outing.
More importantly, Indianapolis won all six of those games against the Titans, Ravens and Jaguars. Colts coach Jim Caldwell and several of his team’s defenders expect to see something of a mix of what Baltimore and Jacksonville tried to do this season.
“There actually are probably more similarities than differences [between the Ravens and the Jets]. I think they both are real power-oriented, downhill running games. They both employ their tackles sometimes as their tight ends. They’ll over shift and sometimes give you an unbalanced line. Those things are similar. Obviously, the styles of back are just a little bit different. Ray Rice is a bit different than Jones and certainly different than Shonn Greene, but they are all very capable runners,” Caldwell said this week.
“Shonn Greene is maybe one of the most powerful runners that we’ve seen. He’s a big, downhill back that can really do a tremendous job of carrying the load an entire game and gets stronger as the game goes on. Obviously, Jones is multitalented. But I do see a lot of similarities, in terms of what they do from that standpoint. They will employ a little bit more wildcat and utilize [wide receiver Brad] Smith, who is a weapon unto himself. So they do give you a few problems there.”
Middle linebacker Gary Brackett sees the same similarities.
“They are a physical group of guys. Obviously, their offensive linemen are very savvy. Those guys have been healthy the whole season. They are leading the league in rushing, I think because they are not afraid to run the ball, no matter what the score is. It seems like they are still running the ball, so its definitely something we want to get stopped,” Brackett said.
“Very similar [to Baltimore’s running attack]. Actually, their plays are very similar. I think what they do is they cutback a little more I would say with Shonn Greene. He’s doing a good job cutting back, making people miss, and that’s a tribute to some of his longer runs.”
• The Edge returns — Former Colts running back Edgerrin James will be one of two co-captains for Indianapolis on Sunday.
The Colts announced Thursday that James and former United States Army soldier and Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis will handle the pregame duties.
Davis, a native of Dayton, Ohio, joined the United States Army from Indianapolis. In November, 1967, Davis was an artillery cannoneer private with the Ninth infantry division assigned to South Vietnam. He was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. Davis is the only Vietnam era Medal of Honor recipient from Indiana. He also received a Silver Star and Purple Heart.
James was the fourth overall pick by the Colts in 1999. He is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, totaling 9,226 yards and 64 touchdowns rushing in his seven years with the club.
A four-time Pro Bowler, James led the league in rushing his first two seasons in the NFL. He set a club rookie rushing record with 1,553 yards as a rookie in 1999, and set the club rushing mark with 1,709 yards in 2000. James, who played with Arizona from 2006-08 and with Seattle in 2009, has 12,246 rushing yards, 11th in NFL history.
• New York defenders think they can get to Manning — The Jets firmly believe that they can put pressure on Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
‘‘We’re not afraid to compete against the Colts, we’re excited to,’’ coach Rex Ryan said earlier this week.
His players — notably safety Kerry Rhodes and cornerback Darrelle Revis — agree.
‘‘Our defense is a hybrid-type system where he has had trouble before,’’ Rhodes said. ‘‘[Manning] can get a little erratic if you can get pressure on him. He doesn’t like to get hit. If you get pressure on him, he gets to talking to his linemen and they’re a little edgier or rattled.”
Revis said that the Jets didn’t show Manning everything, defensively, when the two teams met in the next-to-last game of the regular season Dec. 27.
‘‘We didn’t show him that much,” the NFL Defensive Player of the Year runnerup said. ‘‘I think the coaches saved a lot of things. When you look at this game plan, we have a lot of things that we’re going to do to him.”
Ryan, though, knows that completely stopping the Colts signal caller won’t be easy.
“We understand how to keep people out of the end zone for the most part,” the Jets coach said. “Now Peyton does a better job — they score about as well as anybody. So it’s a huge challenge. If we’re going to keep Indianapolis from scoring 14 points, that’s even a stretch for me to say. But I know one thing: We’re darn sure going to try.”
• Jets already selling AFC championship shirts — The title game has yet to be played but the New York Jets website is already accepting pre-orders for 2009 AFC Championship gear.
Hats, t-shirts and sweatshirts can be purchased at www.jetsshopchampions.com.
• Injury list — Rookie cornerback Jerraud Powers (foot) was injured in last week’s AFC divisional playoff win over Baltimore. His status for the Jets game remains in question. Powers missed a second day of practice on Thursday.
“He [hurt] his foot during the course of the [Baltimore] game. You may have seen him limping around a little bit during the action. But he was able to get through it. I’m not certain what he’ll be able to do for us this week. We’ll just have to see as things go along,” Caldwell said Thursday.
“[He’s continually getting treatment], and [making] certain that he can get better as quickly as [he] possibly as he can. [Jacob] Lacey is the guy that goes [if Powers can’t play]. Obviously, he and Kelvin [Hayden] will man the corners, and we’ll rotate Tim Jennings in there as well”.
Lacey was recently named to Pro Football Weekly’s 2009 NFL All-Rookie team, along with wide receiver Austin Collie and punter Pat McAfee.
“That’s one of the things that I think through the years has kind of helped us. The injuries we certainly don’t want, but sometimes there are unintended positive consequences from injuries. You have young guys that have an opportunity to step in and get a bit more experience,” the Colts coach said.
“So, [at] this time of year, if you do have an issue like we’re having right now, that we’re certainly not putting a guy in there who has not been in a ballgame.”
Tight end Dallas Clark returned to a full practice routine on Thursday. Clark had seen limited work on Wednesday due to illness. Safety Antoine Bethea (back) had another day of limited practice time, but he is expected to play Sunday.
The team’s injury list included running back Joseph Addai (shoulder), defensive end Ervin Baldwin (shin), middle linebacker Gary Brackett (calf), safety Melvin Bullitt (shoulder), offensive tackle Ryan Diem (elbow), defensive end Dwight Freeney (foot), rookie linebacker Cody Glenn (back), defensive tackle Antonio Johnson (shoulder), offensive tackle Charlie Johnson (foot), defensive end Robert Mathis (knee), offensive guard Jamey Richard (shoulder), tight end Jacob Tamme (ankle), offensive tackle Tony Ugoh (knee), placekicker Adam Vinatieri (right hip) and wide receiver Reggie Wayne (knee).
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts expect a heavy dose of the New York Jets running game during Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, which is scheduled for a 3 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium.
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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