Heading into Sunday’s game with the Houston Texans (1 p.m., Reliant Stadium, CBS), it’s safe to say that the Indianapolis Colts have a point to prove.
Almost to a man, the Colts are preparing for their 2011 season opener wanting to show the rest of the National Football League — as well as more than a few members of the media — that they’re more than just a one-man team.
The news Thursday that four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning would be sidelined indefinitely has caused many writers, broadcasters and fans to write off Indianapolis as a playoff contender this year. In fact, the general consensus is that the Colts will be lucky to reach the .500 mark without Manning at the helm of the team’s offense.
The perception of Indianapolis as a rudderless ship without their star quarterback leading the way cuts deep with many players, although some are trying harder than others to keep that chip on their shoulders well hidden.
“I think [some members of the media] have been doing that for the last three or four years as I recall, right?,” Coach Jim Caldwell said Friday when asked about the Colts’ predicted fall from AFC and Super Bowl contender status.
“But we’ve never been a team that has had to resort to being motivated by external circumstances, what people say and think. Our men show a lot of resolve in a lot of very difficult situations. We try to talk to them in that vein. That’s part of my job. But I do think that our guys are focused and ready to go. They’re not really concerned about anything other than the fact that our mission is to win. We don’t make excuses. We expect our guys to be able to step up and perform the way that we anticipate they’re capable of performing.”
Defensive end Robert Mathis, normally a quiet force in the Indianapolis locker room, says that the Colts — especially the team’s much-maligned defensive unit — can’t worry about who or who’s not playing.
“We’re not going to be making excuses about anybody,” Mathis pointed out. “I don’t care who’s in or who’s out. That’s just not what we do. We come to play every Sunday. If you want to count us out, by all means do that.
“This team has a big heart. It helps a lot. It keeps everybody calm. That’s from way back in the Tony Dungy days. We have poise. Just control what you can. Everybody’s going to work. Everybody’s going to get the job done.”
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne just shrugged his shoulders when asked about the negative comments about the team’s playoff aspirations.
“What are you going to do about it? There’s nothing you can do. Either let it go on deaf ears or you let it bother you. I think everybody in this locker room has dealt with it the same way, and that is to not let it bother us at all. We don’t feel like we have to prove anything to anybody, and we’re going to go out there and it’s going to be the same mentality. We want to go out there and win,” Wayne said Friday.
“We just want to win, and we just want to play football. That’s not going to change whether it’s [No.] 18 playing quarterback, [No. 5] playing quarterback or [No. 7] playing quarterback. If they decide to put [No.] 87 at quarterback, then I’ll go out there, and I’m sure they’ll rally around me also.”
• Christensen impressed with veteran players — Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen says he expects the Colts’ offensive veterans — Wayne, tight end Dallas Clark, among others — to pick up the slack with Manning gone for the foreseeable future.
“Last year we had [wide receiver Austin] Collie and Dallas and [running back Joseph] Addai all down. Guys just come into our locker room and go. I just think that’s why we’ve been so consistent. This has felt the same,” Christensen said.
“[A week ago we were] trying to prepare a 13-year veteran in this offense with a guy that’s been here two days. [The veterans] just keep playing. I think that’s an amazing phenomenon around here. I’ll be shocked if you see anything different [at Houston]. They’ll all come out. They’ll play. No one talks much. Everyone just comes out and does their job. We put a premium on leadership, which has always kind of been to our advantage. We have great leaders. We have great character guys in every room. At the end of the day, it’s their team. They own this team. They’ve always owned this team. They’ll get things right.”
• 9/11 shoes — Wayne and safety Antoine Bethea are among a handful of NFL players expected to wear special shoes on Sunday.
The Reebok brand shoes are decorated with stars and stripes in order to honor those who died during the 9/11 attacks 10 years ago.
“Absolutely. Shoes, gloves, or whatever else Reebok makes. I’m going to wear it, and wear it proudly. It will definitely be the best fine I ever have to pay,” Wayne said. “Think about it man. That’s an important time in our life. A lot of people lost plenty of loved ones. It’s history.
“Your grandchildren and children after that, they will be hearing about that. It’s definitely a time where it needs to be recognized, and that’s a way for guys to put their two cents in.”
While league officials generally frown on players not wearing what is considered to be regulation equipment, they are not expected to issue fines to those wearing the commemorative shoes.
According to Pro Football Talk.com, however, the league office informed all 32 teams Friday that players are allowed to wear special shoes and gloves to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, as long as those special shoes and gloves are made by companies that have sponsorship deals with the NFL.
• Injury list — The only player listed as out for the Texans game is Manning. Safety Antoine Bethea (hamstring); wide receivers Austin Collie (foot), Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring), and Blair White (back); and rookie defensive tackle Drake Nevis (foot) are questionable.
Bethea, Collie, and Gonzalez fully participated in Friday’s practice. White was limited. Nevis did not practice.
Heading into Sunday’s game with the Houston Texans (1 p.m., Reliant Stadium, CBS), it’s safe to say that the Indianapolis Colts have a point to prove.
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Under general manager Ryan Grigson, the Indianapolis Colts have searched nationally and internationally for talent to build a program that has won 23 of 34 games in the last two seasons.
On Wednesday, the Colts took a look at some Indianapolis-area talent, including former Warren Central High School and Indiana State standout Shakir Bell.
Police: Colts owner had $29K in cash when arrested
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Family source: Irsay has gone to treatment facility
The family of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday that he has placed himself in a treatment facility after police found multiple prescription drugs in his vehicle during a traffic stop.
The 54-year-old Irsay, who acknowledged a painkiller dependency more than a decade ago, faces preliminary charges of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated and four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance. He was arrested near his home in suburban Carmel late Sunday and released the next day.
Colts owner has double image in media
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Update: Colts owner Irsay arrested for DWI
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Former Cleveland Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who had been released by Cleveland on Feb. 26, signed a reported four-year, $22 million deal with Indianapolis on Thursday. Only the first two years of the contract are guaranteed.
Jackson (6-foot, 240) started 96-of-97 games over the past eight seasons with the Browns since being selected by the team in the second round of the 2006 draft. He played collegiately at Maryland.
EIU’s Garoppolo hopes to impress scouts
Let the Eastern Illinois University quarterback tradition continue.
Mike Shanahan, Jeff Christensen, Sean Payton, Tony Romo and, now, Jimmy Garoppolo. All were record-setting quarterbacks on the Division II and FCS levels.
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Up next for Colts: Brady, Patriots
Hello Tom Brady.
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What a game.
Just when it looked like the Indianapolis Colts were going to be blown out at home in an AFC wild-card playoff game by the Kansas City Chiefs, the impossible happened.
Colts sell out today's Kansas City game
There will be no local television blackouts in the NFL this weekend.
The Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers said Friday that their weekend wild-card playoff games are sellouts. Normally, teams must sell out 72 hours before kickoff to have a game broadcast in their local market. The NFL gave the Colts, Bengals and Packers an extra day to do it.
The Colts host Kansas City today. On Sunday, the Packers host San Francisco and the Bengals host San Diego.
NFL honors Colts' Mathis with Deacon Jones Award
Robert Mathis never got to see Deacon Jones take down opposing quarterbacks in person.
He learned to appreciate Jones’ creativity over time.
The Colts Pro Bowl linebacker and newly crowned sacks champion was honored Thursday as the inaugural winner of the NFL’s Deacon Jones Award, which goes to the league’s sacks leader. Mathis will be recognized at the NFL award banquet Feb. 1.
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Record-setting Indy win
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