Indianapolis Colts Football

Colts “Newcomer of the Week” Titans Edition…

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 15, 2013 – 1:30 pm

Throughout the course of the season, Colts.com will run a “Newcomer of the Week” following each regular season game. With the Colts having an influx of the newcomers this season here’s a look at the “Newcomer of the Week” from Tennessee.

This week’s “Newcomer of the Week” comes in a combo effort on the Colts offensive line.

Free agent right tackle Gosder Cherilus and rookie left guard Hugh Thornton helped pave the way for a 137-yard effort on 32 carries Thursday night.

The Colts are now 11-0 when rushing at least 30 times since the beginning of the 2012 season.

Chuck Pagano summed it up pretty directly when describing the offensive line’s mindset heading into Nashville.

“They took this personal,” Pagano said of the offensive line.

For a majority of the season, the Colts offensive line has been under heavy scrutiny.

Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton has not wavered in his belief of the Colts rushing attack and games like Thursday night are the reason why he has faith in the ground game.

The unit helped pave massive holes in the second half with the Colts rushing for over 100 yards for the seventh time this season.

“What a great job up front by the o-linemen,” quarterback Andrew Luck said after the game. “Staney Havili, the tight ends, Trent [Richardson] and Donald [Brown] getting tough, tough yards. We know to win football games consistently we are going to have to run the football well. We did a decent job in the first half. I think the game sort of dictated that we couldn’t run it as much as we wanted, but I think it was great to settle down and to get points at the end of the half and to start the second half with points was big.

“To get that run game going, and that last drive, what a great job. It’s tough in the fourth quarter for o-linemen when you continually pound and pound and pull and block and hit. They did a heck of a job.

Other Newcomers of Note:

Running back Daniel Herron was in the right place at the right time when he pounced on a fumbled kickoff return midway through the third quarter. The turnover gave the Colts the ball at the Titans 20-yard line.

Outside linebacker Erik Walden bounced back from a foolish first half penalty to record four tackles (two for a loss) and had a sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois sniffed out a second-half screen pass for a tackle for loss, which forced a Titans field goal attempt.


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“Back-Up of the Game” is running back Donald Brown

Posted by Kevin Bowen on – 9:21 am

This week’s “Back-Up of the Game” presented by Venyu is running back Donald Brown.

Last year in Nashville, there was Donald Brown grounding out yards on a game-winning touchdown drive in overtime.

A little over a year later, there was Brown once again eating up yardage and icing a comeback victory.

Brown, who was awarded a game ball, finished Thursday night with a season-high 14 carries for 80 yards and two second-half touchdowns.

“Donnie really did a great job and had a fantastic game,” Chuck Pagano said after the game. “Credit the offensive line for knocking those guys off the ball and blocking for our runners.”

Known for his speed, Brown showed the ability to break several tackles at the second-level and that contributed to his massive second half.

Brown finished off the opening drive of the second half with a six-yard touchdown run and virtually iced the game with an 11-yard score with 3:01 remaining. It marked the first time in Brown’s career that he scored two touchdowns.

On the year, Brown now leads the Colts with 55 carries for 323 rushing yards.

In typical Brown fashion, the veteran rewarded the entire offense for the run game’s performance in Thursday’s win.

“The offensive line did a phenomenal job. Andrew (Luck) got us into the right plays. Stanley Havili did a phenomenal job blocking. When you see the safety, that’s every running backs dream and those guys up front did a phenomenal job,” the five-year veteran said after the 30-27 victory.

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“Back-Up of the Game” is running back Donald Brown

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 11, 2013 – 11:19 am

This week’s “Back-Up of the Game” presented by Venyu is running back Donald Brown.

As he has done for nearly the entire season, Brown continued to be a productive piece of the Colts offense.

On Sunday, it came in the receiving department as Brown caught a career-high five receptions and his 64 receiving yards were the second highest of his career.

Brown’s 13-yard touchdown reception was his first touchdown catch in the NFL and after the game, the veteran running back did not want to chat much about his individual effort.

“They came out to play and they outplayed us. There’s no other way around it,” Brown said of the 38-8 loss.

With Reggie Wayne out of the season, Brown is the most experienced member of the Colts skill position players and he talked about the big picture after the loss.

“We knew going into the game that we have to be able to run the ball. We didn’t do that and we didn’t take care of the ball. We will correct those errors,” Brown said.

“We have a short week so we have to move on. This is a resilient team. We will do what it takes, myself included, to get things going.”

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Will Hilton and Whalen continue to receive the bulk of third-down targets?

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 6, 2013 – 9:41 am

Reggie Wayne’s loss has been analyzed in about every aspect.

One of the main areas that people focused on with Wayne’s loss is where Andrew Luck would turn to on third-down.

It’s no secret Wayne was Luck’s “security blanket” and the Colts signal caller would have to look elsewhere to sustain drives.

The Colts had 13 third downs on Sunday with Luck dropping back to pass on 12 of those occasions (Luck had 11 pass attempts, was sacked once and Donald Brown had one rush attempt).

Against the league’s top pass defense, Luck was 5-of-11 for 50 yards (4 first downs) and a touchdown on third-down. He had an 89.2 quarterback rating on third-down.

Here’s a breakdown of those attempts:

  • T.Y. Hilton’s targets-Hilton was the most frequent target on third-down with five targets including two second-half completions (one that went for a 10-yard touchdown). Hilton bounced back from an early drop with some important catches down the stretch and one would have to imagine the defensive attention will only increase towards No. 13 on the third downs.
  • Griff Whalen’s targets-Whalen was similar to Hilton in his number of targets on third-down with Luck turning towards his college roommate in times of duress. Whalen’s 17-yard catch on the eventual game winning touchdown drive came from a clean pocket for Luck. Whalen was lined up on Houston’s nickel cornerback on many third downs, another reason for his four targets on those downs.
  • Other targets-Luck only targeted Darrius Heyward-Bey once (DHB missed the entire 4th quarter due to injury) and many other times Luck was under intense pressure which forced some balls into crowded coverage. Moving forward, the attention that Hilton receives from opposing defenses will greatly impact the targets for Coby Fleener and DHB on third-down.

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Pep Hamilton’s bye week plans took a bit of a turn when Reggie Wayne went down

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 1, 2013 – 3:00 pm

Pep Hamilton wasn’t expecting to spend his bye week in this fashion.

Instead of reviewing film of the first two months of the season and getting a head start on the Houston Texans, Hamilton also dealt with the task of preparing for life without Reggie Wayne.

“It’s one of the harsh realities of the National Football League. It was tough to say the least,” Hamilton said of Wayne’s absence.

“We feel like we got to find ways, even if it’s by committee, to continue to move the ball and continue to move the ball in the passing game and be effective as a passing offense without Reggie. Andrew (Luck) had a tremendous amount of trust in Reggie and knowing that Reggie would get to the spot and ultimately that Reggie would make the play. We feel like we’ve got some other guys that are very capable of stepping in and making plays for us.”

Another area that Hamilton focused on during the bye week was creating more chances for new running back Trent Richardson.

Without Wayne, Hamilton knows that more attention will move towards opponents stopping the Colts run game.

“I have to do a better job of coming up with schemes that not only give our offensive line a chance to be successful, but of course to create holes for Trent. Create schemes that complement his wealth of talent,” Hamilton said on Thursday.

“That’s one of the things that we spent time as an offensive staff just looking at during the bye week. Finding ways to better feature our playmakers. Not just Trent, but Donald (Brown) and T.Y. (Hilton) and DHB (Darrius Heyward-Bey) and Coby Fleener and Stanley Havili for that matter. But yes, I have to do a better job of finding ways to get Trent out in space.”

The last time Wayne missed a game with the Colts, Hamilton was a 27-year old offensive coordinator at Howard University, his alma mater.

His game plans for the rest of 2013 won’t include No. 87 but that doesn’t change the goals for this offense.

“We feel like even up until this point we’ve been an offense by committee. We’ve had a lot of different guys step up and make plays for us,” Hamilton said.

“We just know moving forward that it’s the next man up. DHB (Darrius Heyward-Bey), T.Y. (Hilton), some of the younger guys that may get an opportunity to go in there and make plays for us in the passing game. Somebody is going to have to step up and make the plays.”


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Colts Daily Headlines: October 8th Edition

Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 8, 2013 – 8:30 am

It was another Victory Monday for the Colts as they celebrated their third straight victory. Today’s news look at the very early playoff picture for the Colts and how Donald Brown has accepted his new role.

Take a look below at the top pieces from Tuesday, October 8th.  

Path to the playoffs is much clearer for the Colts after victories

By: Stephen Holder, Indy Star

The 4-1 start for the Colts means that while players inside of the team complex stick to the week-by-week process, those on the outside start looking at the big picture.

It also allows a team to think about bigger goals. And the Colts, with their 4-1 start, are generating considerable conversation nationally about their potential in the postseason. That effort begins at home, in the Colts’ own division.

And for the first time in the post-Peyton era, the Colts own sole possession of first place in the AFC South. That is no small feat.

“I think that’s what everybody’s goal is, to be that head honcho in their division,” safety Antoine Bethea said. “(My) first couple years here, that’s what we were. They had to come through us to win the division. The past couple years, it’s been Houston. For us to be up there at the top, that means a lot for this team. We come into the year saying that’s our goal.”

Brown’s big play well-earned

By: George Bremer, Herald Bulletin

Not many running backs that are drafted in the first round spend their fifth NFL season learning the role of punt protector.

Donald Brown is the rare breed who has taken full advantage of another opportunity.

Instead of complaining about his role — or even looking to force an exit in the final year of his contract — Brown has been the consummate good soldier. He’s averaged a robust 8.3 yards per carry on just 19 rushing attempts, and that’s just part of why it was so good to see him emphatically spiking the football in the end zone after scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday against Seattle.

Brown sees nothing special in his team-first approach.

“You just prepare for all situations,” he said. “You have to prepare like you’re the starter no matter what the situation is. When your number’s called, make the most of every opportunity, whether you’re on offense or on special teams.”


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Pagano talks 3-1 start, defending Russell Wilson and the play of Donald Brown during radio show

Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 1, 2013 – 12:00 pm

With the regular season back in action, the Chuck Pagano show returns hosted by ‘Voice of the Colts’ Bob Lamey on Monday nights.

Here’s some of the highlights from Pagano’s show on Monday night following the Colts 37-3 win over the Jaguars:

On Darius Butler’s pick six against the Jaguars:

“That was definitely the spark that we needed. We did get off to a slow start and the defense was playing lights out, consistently through that ball game and saved us early so to speak. They bailed out the other side of the ball.”

On being 3-1 at the quarter poll:

“We feel great at the quarter poll if you will. We know it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Certainly to be able to go on the road and win the two road games, and we are finding just how good Miami is. Sitting here at 3-1 four games into it, I’m pleased where we are at and where we are heading.”

On Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis and their value to the Colts:

“You can’t put a value on it because they do so much. The fans, they see what they do on Sundays for 60 minutes or three hours real time. But what they do Monday-Saturday, in the locker room, in the facility, on the practice field, in the meeting room is invaluable. You can’t put a price tag on it. They are great, great players but they are team guys all the way. They are the most selfless individuals that I’ve been around. We’ve got a bunch in that locker room and no two better than those two guys.”

On Donald Brown and his big game on Sunday:

“Everybody knows Donald is a talented, talented running back. He’s a great pro. He had opportunities and he always takes advantage of those opportunities. We had some plays called where whether it be an eight-man box or a seven-man box, great call on our offensive staff’s part when Donald went in there. When you break us down statistically, Donnie is in there on a lot of passing downs so defensively they figure “not going to run the ball, they are going to pass the ball”. So they play coverage, don’t load the box up. On the big run, they had a light box if you will, six guys in there, split safety look and we had a trap called and the offensive line blocked it up perfectly. As we know Donald hit that hole and ran through two defenders and almost took it to the house.”

On dealing with Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson:

“The good thing is we faced two really athletic quarterbacks. Facing (Terrelle) Pryor and then (Colin) Kaepernick definitely was good for us to see and see early. Those guys can run around and Russell Wilson is an unbelievable talent. I know he has two eyes but it’s like he has eyes all over the place, in the back of his head. He’s just got that sixth sense. He feels what’s coming. He can go left. He can go right. He can spin out. He can slide in the pocket, scramble to run down the field, scramble to pass. It’s going to be a nightmare.”

 


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Five Things Learned, Colts-San Francisco

Posted by craigkelleycolts on September 23, 2013 – 9:28 am

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Intro:  Indianapolis posted a dominant 27-7 win at San Francisco on Sunday.  The Colts ran 12 more times than they threw and earned their most lop-sided road victory since 2009.  Facing a physical defending Super Bowl team, the Colts were more physical.

INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts answered a tough home setback by meeting the challenge of their first road game with a 20-point victory margin over a team (San Francisco) that made the Super Bowl last year and nearly did the previous season.

The Colts met a physical opponent by being even more so.  On a national television stage, Indianapolis showed a much different blueprint for victory than past seasons have had.

Colts 27, San Francisco 7.

Here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.

LET’S GET PHYSICAL – Nothing is more telling than the words of an owner.  In this case, Jim Irsay, “To bring in Ahmad Bradshaw and now to have Trent Richardson…You can see Trent with his lateral movement, his explosion, he’s always going forward.  What we’re looking for is what we saw today.”  When Irsay changed his organizational dynamic in early 2012 by bringing in Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, the new duo spoke of a different style of play.  Every move since then has reflected that approach and progress made over 18 games prior to yesterday was incremental.  Yesterday, it was dramatic.  The Colts ran 12 more times than they threw, a first for that disparity since 2011.  The Colts are 4-0 in the last 19 games when they have rushed more often than thrown, and they are 4-0 in games in that span when out-rushing opponents by 59 yards.  “Run and stop the run” has been a mantra.  It was reality yesterday.  It is a much different feeling for long-time Colts fans.  This new pair of shoes could be broken in quickly.

1-2 PUNCH, AND MORE – Ahmad Bradshaw carried 19 times for 95 yards.  Trent Richardson had 13 carries for 35 yards.  Bradshaw said the plan never was to ease his new buddy in, “We’ve got a one-two punch and we used it.  It’s going to be tough for a lot of opponents this year.”  The duo had 32 of the team’s 39 rushes.  Get used to it.  Pep Hamilton mentioned Friday that Donald Brown would be in the mix.  Brown had 25 yards on three carries, including a 16-yarder for a first down that led to a field goal.  Indianapolis has a more pronounced “hammer” look to the offense.  Pagano spoke 20 months ago of the Colts having an AFC North look (like that of Pittsburgh and Baltimore).  That was the look at San Francisco.

MULTI-POSITIONAL OFFENSIVE LINEMEN – The offensive line had one of its grittiest and most productive performances of recent memory.  Mike McGlynn shifted to center for the injured Samson Satele (the third time he has done this in 19 games), and played well.  He competed successfully while being battered all game.  Jeff Linkenbach showed his versatility again by starting at right guard for McGlynn.  In 29 career starts, Linkenbach has opened five times at LT, four at LG, four at RG and 16 at RT.  Mixed in among stalwart veterans Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus was rookie left guard Hugh Thornton.  Versatility among all linemen provides big-time currency for the offense.  Often is it not acknowledged, but Sunday it was on full display.  They ventured into Candlestick and shined.  Well done, gents.

VALUE OF KICKERS, COVERAGE, FIELD POSITION – San Francisco started nine of its 11 possessions at or inside its 20.  Pat McAfee reached the end zone on four of his six kickoffs, producing three touchbacks.  The other three returns reached the 13, 11 and 12.  McAfee pinned the 49ers to their eight (twice) and nine with three of his four punts.  Adam Vinatieri hit clutch efforts from 43 and 41 yards, and his lone miss from 51 yards was wide while attempted into the wind.  The Colts won the average field position drive start by eight yards, and three-of-five three-and-outs defensively for Indianapolis came after solid kicks.  Again, a part of the game sometimes overlooked.  Not today.  It was probably great flights home for special teams and offensive line coaches.

BELIEVE IN COACHES – Defensive players heard it for two weeks after Terrelle Pryor ran for 112 yards.  With Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson looming in the next month, getting squared away on a diverse offense was necessary.  Chuck Pagano said research was done and that players would be prepared.  Kaepernick rushed seven times for 20 yards, and the only TD run by a quarterback belonged to Andrew Luck.  The phrase heard after Sunday’s win was “assignment football.”  Assignments were sound and execution was solid.  The Colts are 13-6 under the new regime, with players buying in and competing for each other.  They’re coachable, and everyone enjoyed the fruits of a decisive win.


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INSTANT REACTION: Vick Ballard placed on injured reserve

Posted by Kevin Bowen on September 13, 2013 – 12:41 pm

It’s not even Week Two of the regular season but the Colts “Next Man Up” philosophy is already being put into action.

Head Coach Chuck Pagano announced Friday afternoon that running back Vick Ballard will be placed on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury during Thursday’s practice.

How does Ballard’s injury impact the Colts going forward?

First, losing Ballard is an obvious blow to the Colts offense.

He played well beyond the No. 170 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Late in his rookie season, Ballard was the main bell cow for a depleted Colts backfield.

Everyone knows what Ballard has done from a rushing standpoint (over 800 yards in 2012) but he’s a valuable blocker, and both Pagano and Andrew Luck raved earlier this week about the second-year back’s ability to block.

Moving forward, Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Brown will be the guys to count on at the running back position.

Bradshaw had seven carries for 26 yards last week against the Raiders and that load will certainly increase beginning this weekend.

At 5’10” and 214 pounds, Bradshaw has rushed for at least 1,000 yards twice in the last three seasons and achieved that mark in 2012 despite playing in 14 games.

Bradshaw has played some of his best football on the game’s brightest stages and there’s no question that the seven-year veteran will be counted on heavily in 2013.

He is known as one of the better blocking running backs in the NFL and has also caught 125 passes over the last four seasons.

In his fifth season with the Colts, Brown should first be commended for how he’s accepted his role on special teams in 2013. He is the team’s punt protector and has excelled on special teams during the preseason and in Week One.

Now, Brown will see his role expand offensively after playing just one offensive snap in the Colts opening week victory.

Brown has 449 carries for 1,840 yards in his Colts career and has caught 56 passes out of the backfield.

Running backs coach David Walker stressed during the offseason the importance of finding a third running back how that would inevitably be needed over the course of a 16-game schedule.

That unfortunately comes in Week Two and the Colts will now deal with their first major adversity beginning on Sunday afternoon.


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Return of Ahmad Bradshaw makes for a happy Vick Ballard

Posted by Kevin Bowen on September 5, 2013 – 3:44 pm

Late in the 2012 season when Vick Ballard looked towards the Colts sidelines running backs coach David Walker simply just stared back at him.

Ballard was the bell cow and injuries hardly let him catch his breath.

Come Sunday, Ballard will be more than happy to allow other backs get into the fray.

“I’ve been in two-back systems my whole career playing. It’s a way to get the other back rest. And like you said, I feed off the energy of the other back,” Ballard said earlier this week.

Fellow running back Ahmad Bradshaw is expecting to make his Colts debut on Sunday afternoon and his offensive teammates can’t wait to see him in action.temp2013_0904_prac_0596--nfl_mezz_1280_1024

Says quarterback Andrew Luck of Bradshaw:

“I know he’s been chomping at the bit. He’s a tough sucker and we’re lucky to have him on our team.”

And the fullback Stanley Havili who will be paving the way on Sunday:

“I’m excited and I think the whole team is excited to get Ahmad out there. We all know what he can do and we all know what Vick and Donald (Brown) can do so we’re just excited to get someone out there fresh that can run the ball.”

Pep Hamilton said on Thursday that he isn’t exactly sure how running back carries will be split up against the Raiders.

Sunday will be Hamilton’s first in-person look at Bradshaw but he likes what he sees on film.

“He’s consistent. He’s a power runner. He can run between the tackles but when he breaks through that first line of defense, he has the ability to score touchdowns,” Hamilton said of Bradshaw.

Whether it’s Ballard, Bradshaw or Brown, the man calling the shots on Sunday knows that multiple backs are required in his offense.

And he’s confident that those backs will be running behind an imposing offensive line.

“Our offensive line, they’ve progressively gotten better since the start of camp and we expect that we’re going to be able to come out and control the line of scrimmage. That’s our ultimate goal,” Hamilton said on Thursday.

“It’s a long season and we expect to be able to run the football. We are sure that there will be enough opportunities to go around.”


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