By Tom James
Indianapolis — Neither the Indianapolis Colts nor the New England Patriots are likely to provide the other team with bulletin board material over the next few days.
In fact, the Colts (8-0) and Patriots (6-2) would prefer to let what happens on the playing field be their response to the national hype that surrounds their annual regular season and postseason meetings.
Despite the obvious rivalry that exists between the two franchises, and the playoff implications that will affect both teams pending the outcome of Sunday night’s game, there’s plenty of respect being tossed around this week.
“The Patriots have just done a tremendous job overall when you look at them from top to bottom. The organization, the way in which they go about selecting individuals to come in and play well within their offensive and defensive system,” Colts first-year head coach Jim Caldwell said
“They have a good scouting department. They do a tremendous job in all those aspects. They’re crafty. They just do a tremendous job in schematics on the field as well in all phases. From top to bottom, they’re just a first class operation that does everything extremely well.”
Caldwell knows the Patriots pretty well, but he has continued to stress to his team that Sunday night’s nationally televised game is just another regular season game.
“It’s no change from any other year that we’ve been here. We know that we have a very tough opponent that we face. And our goal is to get ready. Because you have to be ready for them. They do things awfully well, they don’t beat themselves, they don’t make mistakes. So we have to be at the top of our game,” he said.
“[Sunday’s game] is a big one because it’s the next [game]. But this is week nine [of the regular season] and certainly not the end of the year. Not the playoffs. It’s not the Super Bowl.”
Caldwell has taken the time to stress to some of the Colts’ younger players — rookies Jerraud Powers, Jacob Lacey, Donald Brown and Austin Collie — to watch how the team’s veterans approach this week’s game.
“I’ve kind of told them that we’ll have double the media we typically have. They’ll be a few boom microphones hanging over you that weren’t there before. And all those kinds of things. I went through and kind of described the atmosphere that we have [in the media room during New England week],” he explained.
“And I told them what they should do is just watch the veterans. They’ve been here before, they understand, and they’ve been at this juncture. Watch what they do and just follow their lead and you’ll be okay.”
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• Roster moves — The Colts waived defensive end Josh Thomas Monday and added cornerback Anthony Madison to the active roster.
Madison, a native of Thomasville, Ala., played collegiately at Alabama. He was initially signed as an undrafted free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder has also played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with the Steelers and Cleveland Browns earlier this year. He was waived by the Browns Nov. 3. He is expected to help out on special teams, as well as provide some additional depth at cornerback.
Thomas had been signed by Indianapolis last Friday and saw limited playing time against the Houston Texans.
“[Madison will] give us a little help back there in the secondary, where I think you guys have realized we have taken a few hits,” Caldwell said. “We are going to try and put him to work today and see if we can get him acclimated. We are hoping he is a quick study.
“We’ll see if he can alleviate some of the problems we have in terms of overload on a couple of our young guys that are playing a little bit more back there in the secondary. He’s been around the block a little bit. He’s a guy from all reports, and particularly from our scouting department, who is a tough guy and loves the aspect of special teams. We anticipate he’ll be able to help us soon.”
• Injury list — Rookies Donald Brown (shoulder) and Austin Collie (neck) both practiced Wednesday. But a final decision on whether either one will play Sunday night won’t be made until later in the week.
Brown had been splitting time with starter Joseph Addai at running back until suffering a shoulder contusion against the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 25. He did not play against the San Francisco 49ers or the Houston Texans.
Collie, meanwhile, incurred a pinched nerve in his neck after making a 16-yard catch in the fourth quarter of the Texans game last Sunday.
Missing practice time Wednesday were defensive end Dwight Freeney (rest), wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (knee), cornerback Kelvin Hayden (knee), quarterback Jim Sorgi (shoulder) and placekicker Adam Vinatieri (knee).
• Clark named AFC Offensive Player of the Week — Tight end Dallas Clark earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors Monday. Clark tied the franchise record for catches in a game in last Sunday’s win over Houston, hauling in 14 passes for 119 yards.
He tied the Colts single-game receiving record, which was set twice by former Indianapolis wide receiver Marvin Harrison (at Cleveland in 1999, against Dallas in 2002). His 14 receptions tied for the third most in a game by a tight end in NFL history. (15, Kellen Winslow, 1984; 15, Jason Whitten, 2007).
Clark also surpassed former Baltimore Colts tight end Jim Mutscheller for the second most receiving yards by a tight end. He now has 3,785 and trailed John Mackey’s total of 5,126. Clark recorded his seventh career 100-yard receiving game, the second most among all-time Colts tight ends (Mackey, 8).