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September 13, 2011

Colts’ opening loss was a complete team effort

INDIANAPOLIS — Center Jeff Saturday has a message for all those who want to a) blame the Indianapolis Colts’ 34-7 season-opening National Football League loss to the Houston Texans on new quarterback Kerry Collins or b) blame the aforementioned loss on the absence of quarterback Peyton Manning.

According to Saturday, losing the 2011 season opener was a complete team effort.

“None of us played well. It had nothing to do with Kerry. As an offense, we just didn’t play well. We didn’t execute when we needed to,” Saturday said Monday.

“Fumbles, sacks, penalties. You name it. Any way that you can shoot yourself in the foot, we did it. Kerry doesn’t have control over all that. We’ve got to play better as an offense.”

As for not having the four-time NFL Most Valuable Player around, Saturday dismissed that fact as an excuse as well.

“Obviously he’s not there. But I don’t think if Peyton would have been back there it would have been much better. We didn’t play well,” he explained. “We weren’t efficient in our offense. It just adds up and snowballs.

We just didn’t produce the way we need to and we didn’t get it done.”

Saturday thought that the Colts showed some improvement in the second half, but agrees that there’s still a lot of work to do before facing Cleveland in the team’s home opener Sunday.

“The Texans, give them credit. They took advantage of every mistake we made and made the most out of it. We made mistakes. We did things that we know we can’t do no matter who’s playing quarterback. And it catches up to you. You can’t go out and start a game that poorly,” he said.

“It’s still a loss. We can justify each and every point they scored. We showed [in the second half] that we can move the ball, we can be effective. And I think that’s what you build on. We had a lot of self-inflicted wounds. You can’t give teams advantages like that. We have to get together and get into a rhythm.”

Work to do — That’s what the Indianapolis Colts have in front of them after losing to Houston.

Too many mistakes, both mental and physical, put the Colts in a big hole early against the Texans. Now Jim Caldwell’s team has to regroup and retool heading into Sunday’s home opener with Cleveland.

Collins sees a lot of room for improvement.

“I’m sure there’s a host of things that we all could have done better. We need to take better care of the ball, and that’s the No. 1 priority. There are going to be things, I’m sure, with plays, reads, and decisions that I’ll have to improve on. That’s part of it,” he said Monday.

“Really, we just didn’t help ourselves. The big things were turning the ball over, which I was responsible for. But there were some good things that happened in the game, especially in the second half. We hurt ourselves a little bit with penalties and some other things, but I fully expected to go into yesterday and to play well and run the game plan. There were some good moments, but, obviously, [there is] a lot we need to work on.”

Cornerback Jerraud Powers agrees.

“We’re not going to spending this [coming week] sitting around and thinking about Houston. We’ll worry about them when we play them again,” Powers said. “We tip our hat to them. They executed their game plan. They did a great job. But after [Monday] at 2 p.m., this game will be put behind us.

“There’s a lot more football to be played. We’re going to definitely get things turned in the right direction. Everybody’s on board, focused. There’s not going to be any finger-pointing. We’re going to remain unified and do what we have to do to win.”

Running back Joseph Addai said the players know what they have to do.

“[Wide receiver] Reggie [Wayne] pulled us the whole offense together in the fourth quarter [of the Houston game]. The defense got together. Everybody’s got their heads up,” Addai said.

“There’s a lot of veterans on this team. We know that it’s going to take time [to get used to playing without quarterback Peyton Manning]. We know that. We know the situation.”

Caldwell, as is his nature, isn’t about to go into panic mode anytime soon.

“I think it’s an understatement, but we just didn’t play well [against Houston]. We just had a few too many mistakes. And you can’t make those kind of mistakes against good football teams,” the Colts coach said.

Caldwell added that while he didn’t expect to make wholesale changes on either side of the ball for the Cleveland game, there is work to do.

“Obviously, when you turn the ball over twice and give them the ball early, on the 12-yard line and the 18-yard line, those are just a couple of miscues that you can’t afford to give to a good football team. That certainly set an early tone, and we just couldn’t get our feet back underneath us quickly enough to make some things happen,” he said.

“Our defense started pretty fast. We got a turnover right away, but we didn’t capitalize on it from an offensive standpoint. [The defense] made [the Texans] kick a field goal the next time they had the ball. So you can’t just make a blanket statement and have it cover the entire group, because there were some phases that were okay.”

The Colts coach said that pass protection needs to improve.

“We were a bit inconsistent. There were some times where we did a pretty good job handling the line of scrimmage and creating some holes. Joe [Addai] had some pretty good runs in there, and there were quite a few times where our pass protection was good and solid,” Caldwell said. “Then there were others where we weren’t very good, and we didn’t block very well in terms of the run game. I’d say we were inconsistent, and we have to get better. We have to improve.”

Injury list — Outside linebacker Ernie Sims suffered a sprained right knee in the second quarter and did not return. Middle linebacker Gary Brackett incurred a sprained left shoulder in the fourth quarter after intercepting a Matt Schaub pass. Brackett was hurt as he was being tackled after the interception.

“I tried to brace my fall, and just landed with all my pressure on my shoulder. It was my shoulder, and my knees are fine,” Brackett said Monday.

As for Sims, his injury may sideline him for an extended period of time.

“There’s a possibility of that,” Caldwell said. “We probably won’t know fully until, maybe, the next couple of days.”

Among those sitting out Monday’s short practice were Wayne, safety Antoine Bethea, defensive ends Tyler Brayton and Robert Mathis, weakside linebacker Kavell Conner, wide receivers Anthony Gonzalez and Blair White, Manning, Sims and Brackett.

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