INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts are keenly aware of the position that they’re in heading into Sunday’s AFC South matchup with the Houston Texans.
“It’s always been a tough game, whether we played them here in Indy or we’ve always had really close games down there in Houston. The schedule has been funny where we had all four NFC games so early in the season. Now, we’re getting into the AFC schedule and into the division,” Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said Wednesday.
“This will be an extremely tough test for us. They are playing really well right now. You look at some of their games, they easily could have won a couple that they had lost. They’re playing with a lot of momentum right now.”
Indianapolis, 7-0 for the season and 2-0 in the division, has a seemingly comfortable 2 1/2 game lead over the rapidly improving Texans. Houston, meanwhile, will bring a 5-3 record and a 1-1 AFC South mark to Lucas Oil Stadium.
A win by the Colts would give them an early sweep of the division and allow Coach Jim Caldwell’s team a chance to control their fate in the AFC South. But losing would tighten things up considerably, especially since Indianapolis will play at Houston in three weeks.
“The only [game] I’m concerned about is this one. That’s all I’m worried about. I want to get our team ready for this particular contest. We know we have a very difficult team that we are playing,” Caldwell said Wednesday.
“They are hot. They have won three games in a row. Anytime you can win three games a row in this league, you have a pretty good football team. We have to get ourselves ready. We know they certainly have the ability to win the game if they play well.”
The first-year head coach is well aware the importance that Sunday’s game holds for both the Colts and the Texans. Houston is two games over the .500 mark for the first time in the franchise’s history.
And the meeting with Indianapolis is being hailed by some associated with the Texans as the biggest game that the team has ever played, a chance to finally make its mark against one of the two remaining undefeated teams in the league.
“I think what we have to focus in on is what we can control. We can’t necessarily control what they think and how they plan to do things. We can control how we practice and how we prepare and how we look at the opportunity. Those are the things we try to focus in on and talk about,” Caldwell said.
So, is the bullseye directly on the backs of the Colts this week? Or can Indianapolis turn the tables and pin the target on the Texans? That remains to be seen.
“I really try not to put myself in someone else’s shoes because I don’t know all of the factors. Back in the old days of college you always had your ‘red letter’ games,” he said.
“I’m not certain that’s the case with them [the Texans]. Some people do that. I’m not saying they have done it or will do it. It’s very tough for me to try and put myself in their position and answer that question.”
Manning said that the two teams share a mutual respect for each other.
“I think Houston knows that we have respect for them. You look at the scores of our games, I think last year they were six points and maybe three or four points. They’ve been close games. They’re a division team. I really think this may be our biggest of the season, so far,” Manning said.
The Colts have had the opportunity to play two winless teams so far, and the schedule heats up with the Texans and Patriots the next two weeks.
“You look at the actual records of the teams we’ve beaten so far, they don’t have as many wins. I think we are beginning the teeth of our schedule right now with the way some of these teams we’re about to play are playing right now,” Manning said.
“Houston is playing with a lot of momentum. I feel like because it’s a division game, that’s what makes it a big game for both teams. We’re going to be just as excited to play them as they may be to play us, because it’s a division game, it means a lot, especially when it comes to implications down the road. Being an AFC South game, it’s one that both teams will want to win. It’s kind of the last game of our second quarter. We want to go into the second half of our season on a high note.”
Focusing in on the Texans is made a bit easier knowing what’s at stake in the game.
“We’ve always put extra emphasis on our division games. I think that’s normal. We won our first two. Houston, just because they’re in the division, they really have nothing to do with Jacksonville or Tennessee. They are their own team,” Manning said.
“I think they’re playing at a very high level right now. We know we have to get good and prepared to play them and go out there and make plays on Sunday, because otherwise it could be a tough day.”
• • •
• Hagler done for the year — Strongside linebacker Tyjuan Hagler has been placed on the Colts’ injured reserve list, effectively ending his season. Hagler suffered a ruptured bicep muscle during the fourth quarter of last week’s game with the San Francisco 49ers.
Hagler’s career with Indianapolis has been slowed by various injuries after being a fifth-round draft pick in 2005. He has been sidelined with a sports hernia, a torn pectoral muscle and, now, a ruptured bicep muscle.
With Hagler out, second-year linebacker Philip Wheeler will take over as the starter. Wheeler was a third-round draft pick in 2008. Undrafted rookie linebacker Ramon Humber, who played at North Dakota State, will be his primary backup.
n Injury list — Sitting out Wednesday’s practice were defensive end Dwight Freeney (rest), wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (knee), cornerback Kelvin Hayden (knee), cornerback Marlin Jackson (knee), safety Bob Sanders (elbow) and placekicker Adam Vinatieri (knee).
Rookie running back Donald Brown (shoulder) and wide receiver Reggie Wayne (strained groin) both took part in the workout.
“We’ll see [about Brown’s availability for the Houston game] after it’s all said and done. That’s where it looks like he’s headed,” Caldwell said. “[Jackson and Hayden] will go day to day. We’ll see where things are.
“I’m not quite certain where [Gonzalez] is at this point. I know he’s trying to get to the point where he feels like he can function at his normal level. He is not there yet. How long that takes him just depends. I know he’s taken a look at it and getting some more opinions and things of that nature and moving forward.”
• Roster move — The Colts have also signed rookie linebacker Cody Glenn off their practice squad.
Glenn had originally been a fifth-round draft pick of the Washington Redskins last spring but was released at the end of training camp and was subsequently added to the Indianapolis practice squad.
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts are keenly aware of the position that they’re in heading into Sunday’s AFC South matchup with the Houston Texans.
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
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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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