Intro: Indianapolis controlled every aspect of the game at Kansas City over the final 56 minutes. The Colts did not allow a point, ran for 135 yards, forced four turnovers and had four sacks and won going away (23-7) in a very tough road venue.
INDIANAPOLIS – With one game left in the season, Indianapolis is in play to move to the AFC’s second playoff seed, or it could shift to third or stay put at fourth.
Regardless, it has been a season of accomplishment on all fronts, and the Colts are gearing for a 16th playoff berth in 30 seasons in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis was dominant at Kansas City on Sunday, bouncing back from a 7-0 deficit with 56 strong minutes on defense and with an offense that thrived accordingly.
A two-game winning streak has the Colts at 10-5 and creating momentum beyond next Sunday.
After the club’s fourth-largest victory margin and the fourth over an opponent with 10-plus wins, here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
OFFENSIVE LINE INTEGRITY – If Chuck Pagano had his way, Santa Claus might put a little something extra in the stockings of OL coaches Joe Gilbert and Hal Hunter. The Colts started their seventh different line of the season Sunday at Kansas City, and it was the fifth straight week a different unit opened. While Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn are regulars, along with tackles Gosder Cherilus and Anthony Castonzo, Xavier Nixon was making his first start at left guard. Nixon, a natural tackle, made his career debut (in extended play) the previous week against Houston at right guard. The Colts managed with a 10th 100-yard ground day, played turnover-free ball and Andrew Luck was sacked once. While the offense is an 11-man operation, if the line doesn’t perform everything gets ugly (in all phases). Kudos to the coaches and everyone associated with a stellar performance.
RESILIENCY IN GETTING BACK ON TRACK – A band of brothers hung tough after a 6-2 start went to an 8-5 juncture. Indianapolis has rallied with two straight wins where every phase of the team performed well – particularly the defense and ground game. The Colts have forced six turnovers and eight sacks in two games and have allowed only six-of-23 third downs to be converted. The Colts led for the final 54 minutes against Houston and did not surrender a point at Kansas City over the final 56 minutes. Indianapolis held the Texans without first downs on seven-of-14 possessions, including a five-possession marathon stretch. While Houston had no post-season designs, Kansas City did, and Indianapolis shutout the Chiefs on five-of-seven drives, while one that did yield a first down ended two snaps later with a fumble. The season never was in extreme jeopardy, but a five-game lull tested moxie around the locker room.
MAKING YOURSELF RELEVANT – Chuck Pagano used the phrase about Griff Whalen in training camp and while Whalen has done a very good job of doing so, Donald Brown has done a whale of a job. Brown on Sunday scored on a 33-yard reception and a 51-yard run. It was the first scoring run beyond 50 yards for Indianapolis in 33 games, and Brown had that last one as well in 2011. Brown has a 5.6 average on 90 rushes, bucking to become only the fourth Colts back ever to have a 5.0 average on 80 seasonal attempts. It has been done just once in the team’s Indianapolis era (George Wonsley, 1985), and Brown has contributed 24 receptions for two more scores. Undervalued by many outside observers, Brown has cast himself in a much different public light. His integrity and ethic are exemplary in all areas.
TEN WINS TRULY NOTEWORTHY – Indianapolis had a nine-year streak (at the time the NFL’s second-longest in history) with 10-plus wins end in 2010. Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano have reconstructed a roster where only 10 players remain from 2010 and before. Indianapolis has gotten to 10 wins in a year when a league-high 72 players have been pressed into service. Getting to 10 wins is an accomplishment for any team and though this is the 13th in 30 seasons in Indianapolis, it is only right to acknowledge achievement.
PLAY TO WIN – Pagano was vocal in recent weeks about the NFL scheduling 16 games and that he intends to play them all. Indianapolis still can grab the coveted second seed. The Colts could jump to third or stay fourth. Regardless, he plays to win and this Sunday should be no different. Pagano has instilled a process around the team in which players buy in and excel. The process sustained through his 12-game absence last year and with his full-time presence this year. So much of coaching is messaging to players. Players buy Pagano’s message.
Tags: Andrew Luck, anthony castonzo, chuck pagano, donald brown, gosder cherilus, Griff Whalen, Hal Hunter, indianapolis colts, Joe Gilbert, mike mcglynn, ryan grigson, Samson Satele, Xavier Nixon
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The news around the Colts on Tuesday surrounded some former offensive linemen. What will Jeff Saturday being doing next season? Who joins Mike Chappell’s all-Indy team at the offensive guard position? Lastly, who is next in line at Saturday’s old position at the center spot?
Each morning Colts.com will take a look at the top headlines surrounding the Indianapolis Colts from around the globe. What is the local and national media saying about the Colts?
Take a look below at the top pieces from Wednesday, July 10th.
By: Mike Chappell, Indy Star
Retirement didn’t last long for former Colts center Jeff Saturday.
The 14-year NFL veteran is getting into the television industry with his first appearance on ESPN coming on July 17th.
“Offensive linemen make some of the best analysts because they understand the nuances of the game and they typically have fun personalities — Jeff definitely fits this mold,” senior coordinating producer Seth Markman, who oversees ESPN’s NFL studio shows, said in a statement. “It’s also no accident he played center for two NFL MVPs in Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.”
By: Mike Chappell, Indy Star
Both of the guards on Chappell’s all-Indy team had productive years with the Colts before moving on to further their NFL careers.
Former Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd was very fond of both Lilja and Scott, after the two turned into mainstays up front even though they were not high draft picks.
“One of my favorite players all-time for me to watch was Ryan Lilja,’’ Mudd said. “He’s one of those guys who just got a lot out of his abilities.’’
“I just liked the way he got things done,’’ he said. “He was athletic and all that, but he got his job done very efficiently. He did things so well technique-wise.
“I really, really enjoyed coaching him.’’
By: Paul Kuharsky, AFC South Blog
The Colts center position is definitely one to watch with the team departing for training camp in a little more than two weeks.
Kuharsky caught up with rookie Khaled Holmes to discuss the battle with the incumbent starter Samson Satele.
“Samson’s a great player and I think we have a bunch of great players up front,” Holmes said. “My only goal is to keep my head down and keep working. I’m always going to compete in everything I do, so there is that factor. But I’m not looking forward to anything besides camp.
“From Day 1 he’s been a great leader and a great help to me in particular. He’s been playing the position for so long at such a high level, he’s really got a firm grasp on technique and the scheme. He’s been nothing but a great help for me.”
Tags: Jake Scott, Jeff Saturday, khaled holmes, Ryan Lilja, Samson Satele
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Nearly all of the Colts players have returned to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center and while the conditioning and learning of new faces/schemes dominated the news on Wednesday afternoon, a few players offered what they did during their time away.
Center Samson Satele
Satele went back to his home state of Hawaii and took a trip to the wilderness to do some hiking with his wife.
“We did three hikes in Hawaii. It’s fun. As soon as you get to the top, it all pays off because then you get the view. I’ve lived there my entire life but this was my first time I ever went hiking.”
Safety Joe Lefeged
Growing up in colder climates his entire life, Lefeged got away from an unfriendly winter and ventured down to the Bahamas.
“It was my first time out of the states and the weather was beautiful. Coming from the Indiana weather and then back to the Maryland weather, the winters are pretty rough so getting away a bit felt good.”
Inside Linebacker Pat Angerer
A foot injury kept Angerer in Indianapolis for the offseason but the fourth-year linebacker made the most of his time at home with his one-and-a-half-year-old son, Cael.
“I was here all offseason just hanging with my boy. I think that’s the best part about this sport. You have three months off just to spend time off with your son, your wife and your family. I’m very lucky and fortunate to have that.”
Tight End Dwayne Allen
Allen had little time to rest after a record-setting rookie campaign. The former Clemson tight end has been bouncing around between Indiana and South Carolina trying to finish up his final 13 credits.
“I’m actually going back this weekend so I’m going to miss a couple days next week, but it’s one of my priorities this offseason to get that degree. It is tough because you try your hardest to stay up on your academics and also on your training so you don’t lose your job. But I set my graduating as a priority this offseason so it was important to me.”
Tags: dwayne allen, Joe Lefeged, pat angerer, Samson Satele
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Back in training camp, when asked about the depth along the offensive line offensive coordinator Bruce Arians talked about the importance of needing at least seven guys up front.
Arians knew that over the course of an NFL season, the attrition up front usually forces multiple bodies into the fray throughout the 16-game schedule.
Center A.Q. Shipley has been one of those invaluable pieces along the offensive line, playing in 11 contests including starting a pair of victories.
“I think the biggest thing is that I understand the offense and I don’t understand just one position,” Shipley said on Monday night’s ‘Pagano Show.’
“If you understand the whole scheme you’re ready. I might not get as many reps during the week in practice but part of my job as a professional is to be ready to play center, guard, wherever they need me.”
When left guard Joe Reitz left the Lions game two weeks ago with a concussion, there was Shipley filling in the comeback victory.
This past weekend against the Titans, Shipley was back at his natural center position when an ankle injury sidelined Samson Satele.
“He’s always stepped up to the plate when needed,” Arians said. “He’s a very valuable guy now that he’s been able to play guard. We have a lot of confidence in him as our center.”
Shipley and fellow offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach have been the most frequent interchangeable parts along the unit.
“It’s the closest group that I’ve ever been apart of,” Shipley said of the offensive line. “When one guy gets the opportunity, everybody trusts one another, everybody’s close with one another. When you get in the game with one another it’s just like the next guy picks each other up.”
On two separate occasions (Green Bay on Oct. 7 and Jacksonville on Nov. 8) Shipley has started at center and helped lead the Colts on two of their highest scoring outputs on the season.
His role might be fluctuating on a weekly basis, but Shipley has proven to deliver each time his number is called.
With three games remaining in the regular season, Shipley is itching for another chance to put together a complete effort in hopes to achieve goals that didn’t seem attainable by many pundits back in August.
“We control our own destiny and that’s half the battle. We know what we have to do,” Shipley said of the Colts positioning in the AFC.
“The belief in this locker room is amazing and we just have to keep doing that. We have to put 60 minutes together. If we put 60 minutes together, and hopefully it’s this week, it’ll be pretty special.”
Tags: A.Q. Shipley, bruce arians, Jeff Linkenbach, joe reitz, Samson Satele
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Heading into the Sunday’s game between the Colts and Browns, no one on Cleveland’s starting offensive line had ever missed an NFL start.
The five players combined for 190 starts in their 15 years of NFL experience.
Compare that to an injury-ridden Colts offensive line that was starting the same five players together it had the previous week for the first time all season.
Bruce Arians saw a jump from Week 6 to 7 with his offensive line and is hoping that continues.
“The communication was (better),” Arians said. “It was easier at home than it has been on the road but it was better. It showed up in the running game more than anything.”
The Colts attempted 37 rushes on Sunday afternoon which was seven more than the high from the first five games.
It wasn’t just the attempts that were a season high for the Colts. They turned those carries into 148 yards rushing with 10 of the 37 attempts resulting in first downs.
A balanced Colts offense sits just fine with quarterback Andrew Luck and the rookie knows the continuity among the offensive line is key.
“I think it’s great, especially for the o-line guys knowing who is next to them, knowing their calls, their tendencies, how they operate,” Luck said. “Hopefully we can build off last week’s performance which they did a great job and continue to get better.”
The offensive line might even benefit from a little depth this weekend as offensive guard Joe Reitz was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
Reitz was the starter at left guard during the preseason but due to a leg injury, he is still waiting to make his debut.
For now, left guard Jeff Linkenbach will continue to start but Arians loves having some options up front.
“He’s going to get more practice time. His reps will grow in practice,” Arians said of Reitz. “Right now I don’t know if we’re ready to make any switches, we’re playing pretty well in there. He’d have to knock my socks off on the practice field to make me take Jeff Linkenbach out of there right now.”
Heading into this week’s matchup with the Titans, the Colts are expected to carry that same starting five of LT-Anthony Castonzo, LG-Linkenbach, C-Samson Satele, RG-Mike McGlynn and RT-Winston Justice on the offensive line for the third straight game.
“I think it’s important to have that continuity. It needed to happen some time,” Justice said with a laugh on Wednesday. “It’s good to have the same guys out there. It’s more important to play with the same person next to you,”
Tags: anthony castonzo, bruce arians, Jeff Linkenbach, joe reitz, mike mcglynn, Samson Satele, winston justice
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During training camp, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was asked about the importance of developing depth along the offensive line.
“You’ve got to have seven guys and if you think you’re just going to play with five, that doesn’t happen,” Arians said. “That’s Godsend if that ever happens. We went to the Super Bowl with seven offensive tackles and four quarterbacks in Pittsburgh.”
“The next man standing, the next man in line, he jumps in and he plays. There’s no drop off. There’s never an excuse for an injury. If you’re a backup, you’re one of the most valuable players on the team.”
Just two weeks into the regular season, the Colts have experienced every part of what Arians said back in August.
-Left tackle Anthony Castonzo is the only penciled in starter who has been at his normal position for each of the first two games.
-At left guard, Seth Olsen has started both games for Joe Reitz (leg).
-At center, Samson Satele left the Vikings game late in the second quarter with a knee injury and was replaced by right guard Mike McGlynn.
-At right guard, when McGlynn slid over to center, newly signed lineman Trai Essex played the final two-plus quarters on Sunday.
-At right tackle, Jeff Linkenbach has been playing there since Winston Justice exited the Bears game with a concussion.
Through eight quarters of the regular season, the Colts have already used seven different players along the offensive line with Reitz still waiting to make his season debut.
Head coach Chuck Pagano talked about his beat up offensive line and their availability come Sunday.
“(Satele) saw the doctor, the MRI came back and it was negative so he’s just got some bone bruising in there but he’ll be day-to-day,” Pagano said. “We anticipate him being available for the game but you never know. If Satele isn’t able to go, then McGlynn will get the nod at center.”
During the 2010 season with the Eagles, McGlynn was the starting center for 14 games after starter Jamaal Jackson went down in the season opener.
“It’s a challenge just because we haven’t worked together and guys are just coming in,” McGlynn said of the ever-changing line. “It’s tough, but there’s not going to be any excuses come Sunday.”
Justice was a full participant at practice on Wednesday and his return to the line would give the Colts another veteran presence to protect Luck.
Tags: anthony castonzo, bruce arians, Jeff Linkenbach, joe reitz, mike mcglynn, Samson Satele, Seth Olsen, Trai Essex, winston justice
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It’s not easy following a legend. When your predecessor has been a fixture of the offense for 13 seasons and one of the most popular members of the community, coming in as his replacement can be a daunting task.
No, this isn’t about Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning. The man who will be snapping the ball to Luck, Samson Satele, is replacing a legend in his own right.
Jeff Saturday started his career with the Colts in 1999, only a year after Manning’s arrival. Once he won the starting job, he would stay there, starting an amazing 188 regular season games for Indianapolis.
When Manning departed for Denver, most thought Saturday would follow him there or retire. Instead, despite an earnest effort from the Colts to resign Saturday to help mentor Luck, he signed with Green Bay to make one more title run with another legend in the making, Aaron Rodgers.
That left the Colts in need of an experienced center to anchor the offensive line and ease Luck’s transition to the NFL. Fortunately for them, Samson Satele was available.
Satele enters his sixth NFL season having made 74 starts for the Miami Dolphins, who drafted him in the second round in 2007, and the Oakland Raiders.
This year’s camp in Anderson marks the third different training site for Satele in those six seasons. Satele was glowing when asked how his experience thus far with the Colts compared to his other stops.
“It’s the best training camp by far,” Satele said. “Even though it’s a new staff, everybody here has a lot of NFL experience. Coach is really emphasizing family and they treat you that way.”
It’s not just a football transition either. A native of Hawaii, Satele is getting his first taste of living in the Midwest. And even though Indianapolis lacks an ocean (Morse Beach and Geist Reservoir don’t count) Samson loves his new Hoosier neighbors.
“The people are really nice. When I first got here and was looking for a house, people were waving all the time and saying ‘Hi.’ Very different from the West Coast.”
Satele does look forward to getting back to Hawaii in the off-season. When he’s not calling out blitzers and protecting Andrew Luck, Samson enjoys listening to music and spending time with his family. An island boy at heart, he says he enjoys reggae and native Hawaiian Island music the most.
Once camp is finished and he gets to return home, Samson says that’s when the real work begins. The father of three boys, ages three, two and one, Satele says keeping up with them is “like a full practice.”
Satele has drawn rave reviews from his new quarterback. Andrew Luck said that Samson was “a sharp guy, on who takes a lot of pride in what he does.” Head coach Chuck Pagano echoed those sentiments, saying he was very pleased with how Luck and Satele were developing “a great amount of chemistry in a short amount of time.
If an NFL center does his job well, fans hardly know he’s there as the focus is all on the quarterback. Satele will be hard to miss, however, with his trademark mane of black hair flowing from his helmet.
Andrew Luck, for one, is happy about that as he said it will keep him from lining up under one of the guards. “All I’ve got to do is look for the hair.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, chuck pagano, Jeff Saturday, Samson Satele
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