After getting off to a pretty good start running the football this season, the Indianapolis Colts find themselves stuck in neutral.
Indianapolis has had difficulty coming up with a consistent running attack over its last two games. That fact was never more in evidence that in last Sunday’s 38-8 National Football League loss to the St. Louis Rams.
The Colts had 18 total yards on the ground. And for only the sixth time in franchise history, the team failed to gain a first down with a run.
Frustrated would be the best way to describe how head coach Chuck Pagano feels right about now.
“It makes it difficult because you become one-dimensional. When people take [the run] away from you and you got to drop back and throw it every time, then they’re teeing off and they’re not honoring the run game,” Pagano explained earlier this week.
“Then when you fall behind, you dig yourself a hole and you fall behind. They’re pinning their ears back. They’re getting in track stances and whether they’re bringing four and five and six, they’re coming after you and playing tight coverage in the back end and it makes it really hard.”
The ability to run the football with any effectiveness, something that the Colts head coach and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton both stressed as a key to this season, has been compromised by questionable offensive line play.
“Our inability to run the football of late, it hurts your football team. Time of possession, your three-and-out field position, the defense is having to play more, it affects so many different things. Our ability to run the football and stop the run is paramount and we got to get back to doing that,” Pagano said.
• Injury list — Offensive guard Mike McGlynn saw limited practice on Tuesday and is expected to start Thursday night’s AFC South matchup at Tennessee.
McGlynn suffered a fractured right thumb in last week’s loss to the Rams. He is wearing a cast on the hand but was able get some work in.
Second-year nose tackle Josh Chapman, meanwhile, returned for full practice Tuesday and should be good to go for the Titans game.
Chapman has been sidelined the last two weeks after experiencing some swelling in his surgically-repaired knee. The former Alabama defensive lineman had knee surgery in January of 2012 to repair damage done during his final season with the Crimson Tide. He missed his rookie season with Indianapolis but has played in several games this year.
Cornerbacks Greg Toler and Josh Gordy, who are both battling groin injuries, have not practiced for the past couple of weeks. While they haven’t been officially ruled out of the Titans game, their chances appear slim of being ready in time.
Toler and Gordy are expected to be joined on the sidelines this week by safety Delano Howell, who has been recovering from a head injury. Howell will probably not play at Tennessee.
• Bouncing back — Veteran defensive end Cory Redding has quickly become a locker room leader for the Colts despite only being with the team for a relatively short time. Redding was signed as a free agent by Indianapolis not long after Pagano was named as the team’s head coach.
The two had worked together in Baltimore and had become close as player and coach as well as on a personal level.
Now, with the Colts coming off a tough home-field loss to St. Louis last week, Redding has been exercising all his skills as a motivational speaker as the team prepares for Thursday night’s game at Tennessee.
“The mindset is positive right now, man. It’s all about bouncing back, of course, from the loss. Learning from our mistakes, of course. We got to get past the slow starts. We all understand that. We all know what’s going on. But the positive there, is that we got a game in two days,” he explained.
“We’re so excited to just get back on the field, and to get past this feeling, this taste out of our mouth. We know we’re a much better team than this and we want to keep rolling. All of our goals are still ahead of us. Even though we lost [Sunday], our division helped us out a little bit. We’re still two games up. All of our dreams are still there. All we got to do is continue to keep getting better, keep fighting, keep playing and the rest will take care of itself.”
• Roster moves — The Colts added rookie wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers from the practice squad and waived-injured safety Larry Asante, who had been sidelined in the Rams game with a hamstring injury.
Rogers (6-3, 215) played collegiately at Tennessee and Tennessee Tech. He had been on the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad before Indianapolis added him to the roster earlier this season.
“Da’Rick is big, fast with good skills,” Pagano said. “He has ability to make plays if he gets out there.”
Pagano did not say if Rogers will be active for the Titans game. Asante will revert to the team’s injured reserve list if he clears waivers.
Indianapolis also signed free agent wide receiver Josh Lenz to the practice squad.