INDIANAPOLIS — Despite a sluggish 1-2 start, there is no sense of panic taking hold in the Indianapolis Colts’ lockerroom or practice field.
The Colts, whose lone win came at Minnesota on Sept. 14, will attempt to even its record and get October off to a successful note when they travel to Reliant Stadium (1 p.m.) Sunday for a matchup with AFC South rival Houston.
Coming off a bye week, Indianapolis heads into the game in somewhat of a different position than it normally does. The Colts are in third place in the division race, trailing Tennessee (4-0) and Jacksonville (2-2).
Coach Tony Dungy, though, plans to stay the course. He is hoping that a few tweaks in all three phases of the game (offense, defense and special teams) will steady things out as the season progresses.
“What I try to do is just point out what happens in the NFL early on. Washington, after week one, everybody had things to say about them and what was happening there and what kind of team they were going to have. Now, they beat Dallas and we are saying, ‘Wow, this might be the best team in football.’ It goes both ways,” the Colts’ coach pointed out Wednesday.
“Dallas, until last weekend, was the best team in football in a lot of people’s minds. That’s what happens early on. You can’t really worry about that. You have to try to string better performances together every week, this week better than last week, and if we do that, we’re going to be in good shape.”
Dungy adds that the Colts have yet to put together a complete team performance.
“I think that’s still to come. We haven’t played what I would call a real sharp game for 60 minutes in all three areas. We’ve shown some signs, had some sparks in one phase or another, but not consistent and that’s what we have to do,” he said.
Quarterback Peyton Manning adds that with its slow start, Indianapolis pretty much remains a work in progress.
”I think ‘playing with a sense of urgency’ is probably a safe phrase. That’s something we always try to do. Coach Dungy is always pointing out what’s going on in the rest of the division and we know how the other teams in our division are playing and know that these division games count double. The game against Jacksonville was extremely important and we came up short, so this is as important this week against Houston,” Manning said.
“We’re coming off our bye with a long stretch from here on out. We’d like to finish off this first quarter of the season, which we break the season down into, with a win. It’s an important game and one that we’d like to play well in and try to get a win on the road.”
But he knows that it won’t be easy. The Texans will be playing their first home game of the season and he expects the fans will be in a fired-up mood because it will also be the first home game since Hurricane Ike roared through the area two weeks ago.
“They’re going to be pumped up, playing at home for the first time. I know it’s been a challenge for them to have to play three games on the road to start the season. It’ll be emotional for the fans I think, the first game at home since the hurricane. They’re a good football team. You can look at the record, but then you can also look at the games and see just what happened in those games,” Manning said.
“Against Tennessee and Jacksonville, a couple of plays here or there, especially against Jacksonville, they’re probably winning those games. They’re always tough at home. They were 6-2 at home last year. We had a real close game with them last year down there we were fortunate to win. It’ll be a challenge for us and we need to play better.”
• • •
• Rhodes glad to be out of Oakland — He was a member of the Oakland Raiders’ organization for only one season (2007), but running back Dominic Rhodes is glad that he found his way back to the Colts.
Rhodes was more than just an interested spectator when Raiders owner Al Davis announced the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin on a live, nationwide television broadcast Tuesday afternoon. The event brought back plenty of memories of what it was like to wear the Black and Silver.
“Yeah, man, I saw what they call the ‘Circus of the NFL.’ Yeah, I watched it. I actually sent Lane a text message and told him ‘Thank you for letting me get out of there like you said you would if things went down the way they did in the [NFL] draft,’” Rhodes said Wednesday.
“They’re going to go from here. They may turn out 10 victories or whatever, but it’s no fun having to deal with that.”
After playing in just 10 games for the Raiders a year ago, he asked the team to release him if they were intent on adding former Arkansas running back Darren McFadden in the draft.
Rhodes had signed a lucrative two-year, $7.5 million deal with the team after leading Indianapolis in rushing during Super Bowl XLI. He missed the first four games of his brief career in Oakland after being suspended by the NFL for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. He returned to the Colts this past spring.
“It’s just a wild thing to watch. I’ve been in there. So I know what it’s like,” Rhodes said. “It’s worse on the inside. You’re starting to hear a little bit of some of the things that are coming out [in the media]. That’s just how it is right now.
“It’s just a bad situation. Nobody’s running what’s going on [in Oakland] but Al Davis. Lane ain’t lying about a lot of stuff. Everybody knows when [Davis is at practice or in the lockerroom]. He pretty much watches every film of every practice. That’s kind of how it goes. But [being back in Indianapolis] is a comfort zone for me. This is where I’m supposed to be. What’s happening [with the Raiders] definitely made me appreciate this all the more, no question about it.”
• Injury list — Offensive tackle Tony Ugoh (groin) and rookie offensive guard Mike Pollak (knee) practiced Wednesday, with Ugoh expected to return to his regular starting position at left offensive tackle. Pollak’s chances of playing in his first regular-season NFL game won’t be determined until later this week. He has been sidelined since he was hurt during a preseason practice session.
Defensive tackle Daniel Muir (knee) also went through a full-scale workout, his first since joining the team as a free agent at the beginning of the season. Muir may be available to play against Houston.
Offensive guard Daniel Federkeil (ribs), safety Bob Sanders (ankle/knee), and wide receiver Roy Hall (hamstring/knee) did not practice Wednesday. It’s not known yet if either Federkeil and/or Hall will suit up Sunday.
Also missing from Wednesday’s workout was defensive end Robert Mathis, who was given the day off to rest old injuries. He should be able to start against Houston.
• Roster moves — Indianapolis has added cornerback Brandon Sumrall to the practice squad.
A rookie who played collegiately at Southern Mississippi, Sumrall was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Minnesota in April. He was released by the Vikings on Aug. 30 and has since spent time on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad.
To make room for Sumrall, the Colts released tight end Issac Smolko, who had been signed Sept. 11.
INDIANAPOLIS — Despite a sluggish 1-2 start, there is no sense of panic taking hold in the Indianapolis Colts’ lockerroom or practice field.
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