By Tom James
TERRE HAUTE — Jim Caldwell hasn’t taken the time to consider what his thoughts will be when the Indianapolis Colts face the Minnesota Vikings tonight (7:30 p.m.) at Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s the 2009 preseason opener for both teams, but its also the first official game as the Colts’ head coach for the former longtime assistant.
“I have not thought about that. Certainly, it is something that I’m appreciative of and feel blessed, but I have not dwelled on the fact as of yet,” Caldwell said on Wednesday. A day later, his reaction to the same question was pretty much the same, although his response was more about the team in general terms than about himself specifically.
“I’m certain that there will [be butterflies]. Anybody that is involved in any kind of competition, if you don’t, I think something’s wrong with you. It’s going to be an exciting time for us. We’re looking forward to it,” he said after Thursday’s get-a-away workout at Cook Stadium.
• Ready for the game — Caldwell expressed confidence that his team will be ready to play against Minnesota.
“I really do. Kind of ending up our second week [of training camp], the guys have been really sharp. Even the practice [Wednesday afternoon], in a bit of heat and it was a little tough going out there for awhile. I think the heat index was pretty high, but they hung in there pretty well and I think we got quite a bit accomplished,” he said Thursday.
As for how much playing time that the starting offensive and defensive units will get in the Vikings game, Caldwell wasn’t quite sure.
“It really depends. It could be a series or two. It just depends kind of on the flow of the game, what happens in their series. But that’s kind of what we’re looking at now. Obviously they won’t go any longer than the first quarter,” he explained.
Peyton Manning will start the game at quarterback, but will be followed quickly by rookies Curtis Painter and Chris Crane. Painter will most likely get the bulk of the work behind center. Another rookie, running back Donald Brown, could also be in store for extended playing time.
“We’re certain who’s going to probably get in there for us [at quarterback]. Peyton’s going to play some. And then Curtis will certainly get quite a bit of playing time. We’re just not certain from that point on, but we hope that Chris will get a little bit,” Caldwell said.
“Sometimes its tough to tell. Often times you make plans and the game goes a little bit differently. You might not get some guys in as much as you’d like. But we know obviously that Peyton will play and also Curtis will get a lot of work. We hope to get Chris in.”
As for Brown, the Colts’ first-round draft choice will be given every opportunity to be in the game throughout the first half and perhaps longer.
“We’re looking to giving him a little time to get in there and certainly get a sense for how the flow of the game is going to go, the competition in this league, the speed of this league,” he said. “That’s going to be a great time for all of us to kind of see what we have. And not only Donald, [for] every young player on our team.”
• Injury list — Among those not playing tonight against the Vikings are safety Antoine Bethea (hand/wrist), tight end Dallas Clark (concussion), offensive tackle Ryan Diem (back), wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring), wide receiver Roy Hall, running back Mike Hart (ankle), cornerback Kelvin Hayden (hamstring), defensive end Curtis Johnson, tight end Tom Santi, tight end Jacob Tamme and quarterback Jim Sorgi (hamstring).
Cornerback Marlin Jackson, who recently returned to practice from the PUP list after undergoing knee surgery last season, didn’t take part in Wednesday’s workout. His status for the Minnesota game remains up in the air.
Wide receiver Sam Giguere, meanwhile, was activated from the team’s physically unable to perform list Thursday and might be available to see playing time. Giguere had been sidelined since suffering a broken fibula during the Colts’ organized team activities in late May.
• Petrowski to get work — With Indianapolis down to three healthy tight ends, former Terre Haute North and Indiana State standout Jamie Petrowski could get extended playing time this evening.
Petrowski, Gijon Robinson and undrafted rookie free agent Colin Cloherty are the only healthy bodies available to the Colts for the Vikings game.
“We’ve got the game plan installed and we’ve got roles in this offense. We’ve got to go out there, perform and do our best,” he said Thursday. “You’ve to be prepared for anything. You’ve got to be prepared to play any position.”
• Colts preseason records -- Indianapolis has posted a preseason record of 20-27 since 1998. Beginning in 2005, the Colts are 3-15. Overall, the franchise is 143-122-4 in all preseason games dating back to 1947.
The franchise has not had a winning record during the preseason since 2003 (3-1). Of course, since 1998, Indianapolis is 117-59 in the regular season with six divisional championships, seven seasons with 12 or more wins and one Super Bowl title.
“[Winning in the preseason would be] something that would be a little bit different for us. But nevertheless, our objection is still to win,” Caldwell said earlier this week. “We look at the preseason as an opportunity to get better and we are more concerned with that than anything else.”