The Colts will hit the meat of their practice schedule beginning today. Wednesday’s news looks at the Colts need for a pass rush and the difficulty in getting ready for a dual-threat quarterback.
Take a look below at the top pieces from Wednesday, September 4th.
By: Stephen Holder, Indy Star
You can never have enough pass rushers in the NFL and Holder takes a look at the Colts stable as they try and replace Dwight Freeney.
The first test comes Sunday against the Raiders in the regular-season opener.
“I know what they can do,” veteran Robert Mathis said of his largely unproven fellow pass rushers. Mathis has 91.5 career sacks, more than even the wildest dreams of fellow edge rushers Bjoern Werner (0), Cam Johnson (0), Mario Harvey (0) and Erik Walden (9).
Personnel on the defensive front who are better suited to coach Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 defense — Ricky Jean Francois and Aubrayo Franklin specifically — will help. But the Colts are betting rather heavily on players with thin resumes. Which is fine, they say.
“I’ve been working with them since April and I know they can get the job done,” Mathis said. “As for outside (opinions), it doesn’t matter. They didn’t pick these guys, so it doesn’t matter. They’re here for a reason, and we believe they can get the job done.”
Pagano added: “We feel good about all those guys.”
Walden, acquired as a free agent from the Packers in the offseason, didn’t hide from the obvious.
“When you take away what Freeney was able to produce, which is 100-plus sacks, you have to (replace) that from somewhere,” said Walden, who will wear Freeney’s number, 93. “And it has to be in the sack category. I hold myself to a high standard so I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”
By: Mike Wells, ESPN.com
The Colts could get their first taste of dual-threat quarterbacks as quickly as Sunday afternoon.
The Raiders plan to start Terrelle Pryor at quarterback this weekend, according to multiple media reports.
Pryor is more difficult to prepare for than Matt Flynn because of his ability to be creative with his feet if things break down in the pocket. Don’t get me wrong; Pryor is definitely still a work in progress. It starts with him being an inconsistent passer.
“He’s a dual threat so you got to keep him boxed in as much as you can,” outside linebacker Robert Mathis said Monday. “But you can’t forget about [Darren] McFadden at all.”
Tags: Bjoern Werner, Cam Johnson, erik walden, Mario Harvey, robert mathis
Posted in Colts Blog, COLTS DAILY HEADLINES
A total of 75 players will take the field Thursday at Paul Brown Stadium.
For those players, the 60 minutes of football will serve as one final audition to see if they will survive the 53-player cut that comes less than 48 hours later.
Here’s a look at five Colts who are sure to see plenty of playing time on Thursday:
Outside linebacker Caesar Rayford
Rayford has become the unsung hero of the 2013 preseason with five sacks. The former Arena Football Leaguer would be continuing his job as a juvenile counselor if he weren’t in opposing NFL backfields week-after-week.
“My mindset is like it doesn’t matter what I did last game. I’m just going to go out and compete like nothing happened, make the best of every play, every opportunity I get. What I did last game doesn’t matter about this game. It’s all about Cincinnati and got to go out there and compete, because those guys, they ain’t worrying about what I did last game. It’s what I do now.”
Quarterback Chandler Harnish
Harnish calls the preseason his “Super Bowl” and that’s especially the case in game No. 4 where the third string quarterback will get more than a bulk of the snaps. Last year, Harnish played three and a half quarters in the preseason finale and led the offense on a pair of touchdown drives, thus earning a roster spot.
“This is a big evaluation for myself. Last year, I had the opportunity to play most of the game and I’m expecting a lot of playing time this year too. I’m just going to go out there play my game, have fun, prepare like I’m a starter and just go out and show my value to this team.”
Safety Delano Howell
In Week One of the preseason, Howell played 89 snaps (99 percent of all defensive snaps) against Buffalo. He led the team in tackles and has continued to impress all preseason long.
“This is the one we’ve been looking forward to for the young guys, for guys that are trying to prove something, trying to claim a spot. There’s going to be a lot of opportunity, a lot of snaps and everything. I know all of us, all the young guys and everything, people that are fighting to earn a spot, they’re all going to be taking advantage of it.”
Inside linebacker Mario Harvey
Harvey turned in a strong performance last week against the Browns and he has fond memories of last year’s preseason finale. Harvey recorded six tackles, two for loss and eventually earned a roster spot.
“Every chance you get on the field is very important because you are fighting for a spot on the team, to feed your family, fighting for your legacy, your name so it’s very important.”
Safety Joe Lefeged
As an undrafted free agent in 2011, Lefeged had seven tackles in the final preseason game and earned a roster spot. Injuries have sidelined the third-year safety for much of training camp but he is expected to be out there on Thursday evening.
“It’s big but you don’t want to think about it too much. You want to focus on your assignment and go out there and have fun. If you think about the result and things you can’t control, that’s when the mistakes happen.”
Tags: Caesar Rayford, Chandler Harnish, Delano Howell, Joe Lefeged, Mario Harvey
Posted in Colts Blog
While many Colts players traveled to tropical islands and other destinations this offseason, Pat Angerer stayed right here in Indianapolis rehabbing.
No NFL player wants his offseason spent doing the ‘r’ word but that’s what was in store for Angerer.
Angerer tied for the team lead in tackles during the first half and his fellow defenders were glad to see him back in the starting lineup.
“Another tackling machine out there, alongside (Jerrell Freeman),” safety Antoine Bethea said of Angerer’s return.
“We’ve got two guys who can get to the ball, know the defense, intelligent guys. Having (Angerer’s) leadership in the linebacker corps and out on the field is going to help us out a lot.”
During Angerer’s first two seasons in the NFL, the second-round draft pick started 27 games and did not miss a contest.
However, a foot injury limited Angerer to just three starts last season.
Angerer, who was the Colts leading tackler in 2011, ran out with the starting unit against the Browns and wasted little time making an impact.
“Last year (Angerer) was kind of limited and this offseason, so having him back out on the field gives us a veteran guy that has played a lot of downs in this league so that’s always good for the defense,” cornerback Darius Butler said.
“I’m out there in nickel so I’m communicating a lot with him, Jerrell so it’s good to have a guy in there who knows what’s going on.”
With Angerer back in the starting lineup, the Colts inside linebackers both have finished in the top five of the NFL in tackles over the past two seasons.
“It’s always good to get one of your leaders back,” backup linebacker Mario Harvey says of Angerer.
“It’s just another addition to the team that we lost during the spring. It adds more depth on the defense and I’m happy to see him play.”
Tags: antoine bethea, darius butler, Jerrell Freeman, Mario Harvey, pat angerer
Posted in Colts Blog
The Colts will conclude their 2013 training camp at Anderson University this Friday.
Practices will take place each afternoon through Thursday, before a final Friday morning session wraps up three weeks in Anderson.
With a preseason game in the books, here’s a look at five topics to focus on before the Colts travel east this weekend to take on the New York Giants.
Andrew Luck looking for scoring drives: It was a short, but solid, afternoon for the Colts first-team offense on Sunday.
Luck admitted to a mental error with his cadence at the line of scrimmage that led to a sack. Also, a Coby Fleener fumble ended a potential scoring drive.
Against the Bills, Luck was 4-of-6 for 41 yards. Expect the Colts second-year quarterback to get a few more series of action on Sunday night.
Putting together sustained drives, ending in points, is a point of emphasis this week.
Getting DHB his first catch with the Colts: Darrius Heyward-Bey is still working his way back from a knee sprain.
He ran with the first unit against the Bills but did not record a catch.
Expect DHB to get some more 11-on-11 work in practice this week as the Colts try to solidify a potent top three receiver group in Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and DHB.
Starting offensive line needs to stay in tact: This goes without saying but given the depth behind the starting five, keeping the current unit healthy is vital.
Each member of the starting five has been out there for every practice during training camp which is a welcoming sign with two new starters being brought in.
Backup Joe Reitz got multiple quarters at left tackle against the Bills after primarily working at guard in the early part of training camp.
If the Colts can get rookies Hugh Thornton and Khaled Holmes back out on the practice field than the offensive line would have some depth as the midway point of the preseason approaches.
LB-Justin Hickman could be done for the year: Chuck Pagano said Hickman’s foot injury suffered against the Bills is potentially season ending.
Hickman was starting at ILB on Sunday with Pat Angerer, Jerrell Freeman, Mario Harvey and Josh McNary all sidelined with injuries.
The competition for a starting spot next to Freeman seems to be between Kavell Conner and Kelvin Sheppard, at least until the names mentioned above return from various injuries.
Waiting for the debuts of LaRon Landry and Bjoern Werner: Two of the Colts more intriguing defenders sat out against Buffalo with minor injuries.
Having Werner back out on the field this week, as Pagano said he expects, will help a Colts pass rush that recorded just one sack and one quarterback hurry in the preseason opener.
At the backend of the defense, the Colts missed five safeties with Landry the headliner of the group.
If Landry makes his debut next weekend, he will do it in the stadium that he called home in 2012 with the New York Jets.
Also, the Giants are an opponent Landry knows well after five seasons with the Washington Redskins.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Bjoern Werner, chuck pagano, darrius heyward-bey, Hugh Thornton, Jerrell Freeman, joe reitz, josh mcnary, kavell conner, kelvin sheppard, khaled holmes, laron landry, Mario Harvey, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton
Posted in Colts Blog
The Colts rookies accounted for all three offensive touchdowns on Sunday afternoon as Indianapolis closed out the 2012 regular season with a 28-16 win over the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Here is a closer look at the three touchdown drives.
Fleener’s one-yard touchdown catch
The scene: 0-0, the Colts begin at their own 25-yard line following a 28-yard kick return by Deji Karim to begin the game.
The anatomy of the drive: Thirteen plays, for 75 yards in 7:09. It was perhaps the Colts finest opening drive of the season on Sunday that ate up nearly half of the opening frame.
Key play: With the Colts facing a third-and-three from the Houston 24-yard line, quarterback Andrew Luck went to one of his most reliable targets. Tight end Dwayne Allen hauled in the first down catch and took the reception all the way down to the four-yard line.
The score: The Colts lined up with all three tight ends in the game and linebacker Mario Harvey shifting to the left side of the line of scrimmage prior to the snap. Fleener, who was lined up to the left of offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, drifted into the end zone at the snap appearing to look for a potential block. The play-action fake to running back Vick Ballard was executed perfectly with Fleener wide open in the back of the end zone and Luck finding him. Fleener broke out Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ dance to celebrate his second career NFL touchdown.
Ballard’s one-yard touchdown run
The scene: Leading 7-6, the Colts took over at the Houston 39-yard line, following Vontae Davis’ first career interception at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The anatomy of the drive: Six plays, for 39 yards in 2:05. The drive included all 39 yards coming from Colts rookies.
Key play: On the second play of the drive, Ballard took a draw behind Castonzo and went 20 yards into the red zone. The draw has been a vital weapon in the Colts rushing attack all season long and Ballard’s run was his longest of the afternoon.
The score: On a first-and-goal from the one-yard line, the Colts come out in the same alignment that they lined up in during the game’s first touchdown. This time Ballard took the handoff and followed the blocks of Castzono, Harvey and Fleener into the end zone for his second career rushing touchdown.
Hilton’s 70-yard touchdown catch
The scene: Leading 21-16, the Colts take over at their own 43-yard line, following Shayne Graham missing a 52-yard field goal.
The anatomy of the drive: Three plays, for 57 yards in 1:51. The drive came after the Colts had just four total yards in the third quarter.
Key play: The key play came on the prior possession when the Texans marched down to the Indianapolis 27-yard line before facing a third-and-four. Schaub dropped back to pass and defensive end Lawrence Guy recorded his first career NFL sack when he took down the Houston quarterback for an eight-yard loss. The sack forced the long field goal attempt that went wide right.
The score: A holding penalty forced a third-and-23 for the Colts from their own 30-yard line. The Colts lined up in a four receiver set with Hilton in the left slot, to the right of Donnie Avery. Luck took the shotgun snap, looked to his right and a subtle pump fake forced Houston safety Quintin Demps to roam towards that side of the field. Luck quickly turned to his left and fired a perfect pass into Hilton’s arms and the speedster did the rest outrunning the Texans secondary for the Colts longest offensive play of the season.
Tags: Andrew Luck, anthony castonzo, Coby Fleener, donnie avery, dwayne allen, Mario Harvey, T.Y. Hilton, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog