News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 2, 2013

Colts are ready to get physical

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — Staying with the process.

That’s what the Indianapolis Colts (3-1) intend to do heading into Sunday’s marquee home field matchup with the undefeated Seattle Seahawks (1 p.m., Fox Sports, Lucas Oil Stadium).

“They’ve got a quarterback [Russell Wilson] that’s a nightmare to contain and handle. They’ve got a runner [Marshawn Lynch] that’s unbelievable,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is quick to point out as he looks ahead to his team’s game with the Seahawks.

“Their defense is as good as there is in the National Football League. They play fast. They’re physical. Secondary is huge. They’ve got two corners [Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner] who are 6-foot-3. Kam Chancellor is a big safety (6-3, 232) and Earl Thomas [is] running around making plays. They got ballplayers all over the place and they play hard and they play fast and they play with an attitude and they got a swagger. They’ve won a lot of games and they’re 4-0. We got our hands full.”

It’s up to Pagano and his coaching staff to have Indianapolis’ players ready to meet yet another challenge this season. It won’t be easy.

“It’s our biggest game of the year. I know that’s very cliché’. But these guys are definitely good,” Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said Wednesday. “Richard’s [Sherman] got incredible ball skills. I think they’ve got seven interceptions on their team already. Three of the guys on their secondary have two apiece. They’re all big, physical, fast. They have all the attributes. They’re just not fast.

“They can also catch the ball. They’re also great in press [coverage]. They do a great job in off [coverage]. We’ve got our work cut out for us. But we’re excited about the challenge. As football players, as athletes, that’s what you want to do. You want to go face good players, great players.”

Indianapolis played its best game of the season two weeks ago in a 27-7 road win over defending NFC champion San Francisco. The Colts meet up with AFC Super Bowl favorite Denver — and former Indy quarterback Peyton Manning — in Lucas Oil Stadium on Oct. 20.

But this weekend, it’s Seattle, the favorite of many observers to be the NFC’s representative in this season’s Super Bowl. The Colts’ focus is solely on the surging Seahawks.

“This is another week to improve,” added Colts defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who knows Seattle very well after spending most of his career with the 49ers.

“We’re playing good [defensively]. But we’re not where we want to be. We want to be at the top of the league. Not just statistically. But we want to be one of those defenses that can be counted on at the end of the year.”

Pagano just wants the Colts to continue the steady play that they’ve shown over the last two weeks.

“We’ve got to stick to the process. We’ve got to stay steady. We can’t ride the ebbs and flows, just like you can’t ride the ebbs and flows of a game,” the Colts’ coach emphasized.

“It’s just like playing a game — never too high and never too low. We just try to keep it on the highway. We just try to be consistent. I think everybody’s looking for consistency. [Players] want to know that if something bad happens, we lose a ballgame, it’s the same thing. They’re not going to walk in here and all of a sudden Attila the Hun is sitting in front of the meeting room going crazy. We don’t hide anything. We point out what we need to point out and then we move on.”

• • •

• Stanford homecoming — It’s Stanford alumni week once again. Four Colts players (quarterback Andrew Luck, tight end Coby Fleener, safety Delano Howell and practice squad wide receiver Griff Whalen) all played at the school.

They were teammates with a pair of Seahawks — wide receiver Doug Baldwin and cornerback Richard Sherman. Indianapolis offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton coached at Stanford as an assistant as well.

• Returning to the lineup — Center Samson Satele is expected to start Sunday against Seattle. He has missed the last two games with an elbow injury that he suffered against Miami.

With Satele’s return to the starting lineup, offensive guard Mike McGlynn will move back to his regular spot at right offensive guard. McGlynn started at center against San Francisco and Jacksonville. He has been the Colts’ starting right offensive guard for most of the last two seasons.

Tight end/H-Back Dominique Jones continues to be listed as the primary backup to starter Coby Fleener. But Jones has been used more in recent games in tandem with fullback Stanley Havili as a lead blocker for the Colts’ running backs. If Havili is unable to play against Seattle, the versatile Jones will get even more work as a run blocker.

If Francois is unable to play for the second straight week, Fili Moala will get the nod. Moala started last Sunday’s win against Jacksonville and has been a starter for most of his career with the Colts.

Safety Joe Lefeged may be forced back into action on defense if Howell and LaRon Landry are unable to play this week. Lefeged saw extensive work on defense as a rookie but has spent most of his time as a special-teams ace the last two seasons. He has seen limited work on defense this year.

Outside linebacker Cam Johnson should see his workload increase as he moves up the depth chart due to the injury to rookie Bjoern Werner, who is sidelined from four to six weeks with a torn plantar fascia on his right foot. Johnson was acquired in a trade with San Francisco before the start of the regular season.

• Injury list — Sitting out Wednesday’s practice were running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), Howell (toe), Landry (ankle), Jean Francois (groin) and Werner. Of that group, it appears Howell may be the closest to playing against the Seahawks.

Pagano still isn’t sure if Bradshaw will be available to face Seattle.

“Until I get something definitive from our doctors and trainers, I’m planning on him being around [at the Colts complex]. Certainly he won’t be at practice. We’ve made adjustments for that. Once we get some feedback, once we get some answers, then we’ll know more,” the Colts’ coach said.

Cornerback Vontae Davis (foot) and rookie offensive guard Hugh Thornton (shoulder) got limited work.

• Pagano with a cold — The Colts’ head coach had a tough time conducting his Wednesday press conference.

His voice was little more than a scratchy whisper at the beginning of the briefing but got noticeably better as he went along.

“You have to forgive me, I got my Don Corleone voice working today. We had a little problem with the Gambino family, so…[laughing],” Pagano joked, blaming his vocal chord issues on his wife Tina.

“I don’t know. I think my wife gave it to me to be honest with you. She was hacking up the other night. I have to blame her.”

Also, Pagano’s celebrated his 53rd birthday Wednesday.

“Just glad I made it,” he said, referring to his ongoing treatment for leukemia. “Glad I made it to this day.”