News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 18, 2013

Colts' Hamilton hoping to grind out long drives against Broncos

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — Pep Hamilton has a gameplan on how the Indianapolis Colts (4-2) can pull off an upset win over the undefeated (6-0) Denver Broncos on Sunday night.

The Colts’ first-year offensive coordinator, though, knows the task won’t be easy. After all, Denver comes to Lucas Oil Stadium for the nationally televised (NBC Sports, 8:30 p.m.) as the NFL’s most potent offense. The Broncos have scored 265 points so far, the most by any NFL team in the first six games of a season.

As for Hamilton’s gameplan, it’s relatively simple. Play keep away. Limit the number of opportunities that Denver’s offense is on the field. Don’t get into a play-for-play, point-for-point scenario. Control the tempo.

“It’s important for us to control the line of scrimmage and establish a running game. I feel like that’s the formula that works for us,” Hamilton said Thursday.

“We had a few games where we won the time-of-possession battle and as we all know in this room, we didn’t do that this past Monday night [in a 19-9 loss at San Diego]. We feel like it’s important that we control the line of scrimmage.”

But while the plan is pretty basic, executing it will be the tough part.

“Quite naturally, the game and the score of the game will dictate what we’re able to do offensively. So the flow of the game, it’ll kind of take care of itself,” the Colts’ assistant coach said. “It’s our goal as an offense to, at the end of the game, have at least one more point than the opponent and have a chance to win the game, of course.”

When it comes to a possible game scenario, Denver coach John Fox thinks that he has a pretty good idea what to expect.

“Well, through six games, we’ve had a lot of different [gameplans]. That’s all part of football, that’s what we do is adjust. Sometimes you get un-scouted looks, sometimes you get a completely different gameplan and that’s whether we were playing the Colts or Jacksonville last week or Baltimore [in] Week 1. We’ve been fairly salty against the run as well, statistically, and people have opened it up,” Fox said in a teleconference with the Colts’ media.

“Really, that’s a quandary, as it is for everybody, every team, every coaching staff every week because again, you’re adjusting to what your opponent does.”

Again, offensively I always say it’s their ball, they get to do with it what they want. It’ll just be up to us to adjust to whatever style they bring to the table.”

I I I

n Circus in town — With all the Twitter wars that’s been going on between Colts owner Jim Irsay, former general manager/team president Bill Polian and various members of the national media, it’s no surprise that the team’s media and locker rooms have taken on somewhat of a circus atmosphere.

ESPN was in town Wednesday. NFL Network, meanwhile, had two different crews on scene Wednesday and Thursday.

Often times over the last two days, media members have outnumbered players in the locker room.

“Y’all are turning this into a circus. It’s a circus coming in town. [For Indianapolis’ players] it’s just another game, another opportunity for us to go out there and play what Colts football is all about,” veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne said.

“Hopefully we do better than last week and keep it moving. I’m just ready to play, ready to get it over with. It’s like the Ringling Brothers.”

Outside linebacker Robert Mathis was asked Thursday if this week had a special feel to it.

“Besides from maybe triple the size of media guys around here, not really,” Mathis said. “It’s another team. We’re worried about what we do, not about the other team. [Sunday night is] going to be different. It’s going to be whatever you want to call it. But it’s [still] going to be a game to us. We just come out to play.”

• Looking back for inspiration — If Hamilton needed any ideas on how to slow down Denver, all he had to do was look back at the final game of his high school career.

As a quarterback at West Charlotte (North Carolina) High School, he led his team to an undefeated regular season and the state 4A championship game. Much like Denver, his team was an offensive powerhouse that averaged nearly 40 points per game.

West Charlotte’s opponent in the title matchup, A.C. Reynolds High School, was coached by former Indiana State All-American offensive guard Bobby Poss.

“Ask Pep about that game sometime,” Poss joked during the Sycamores’ recent homecoming weekend festivities. “He was the best quarterback in the state that year and they were averaging about 40 points a game. A real strong team. And we beat ’em. Ask him how we did that.

“I’ll tell you how we did it. We didn’t let him have the ball. We ran the football. They couldn’t score if they didn’t have the football.”

When reminded Thursday about the title game, Hamilton smiled.

“I think that game left a lasting impression on me,” he recalled. “I think that game, as much as anything, stressed the importance of controlling the football on the ground.”

• Injury list — Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (concussion) was upgraded Thursday. Freeman was hurt in the first half of Monday night’s loss at San Diego. He did not practice Wednesday but may be cleared to play against the Broncos.

Safety Delano Howell (neck) also was upgraded from limited work Wednesday to full practice Thursday. Inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (hamstring) was downgraded from limited Wednesday to sitting out the Thursday workout.

Cornerback Darius Butler (groin) saw limited work both days. Safety LaRon Landry (ankle) saw full practice time Wednesday and Thursday. Landry has been sidelined for the last four games but is expected to play Sunday night.

Rookie outside linebacker Bjoern Werner (foot) has yet to practice this week. He did not play last week against San Diego and is not expected to be available for the Broncos game.