News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 5, 2013

Heavy snow appears in forecast for Colts

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — Growing up in Houston, Texas, Andrew Luck doesn’t have a history of playing a lot of football in the snow or in snowy conditions.

But if weather forecasts for this weekend remain on track, Sunday’s AFC battle between the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals may be severely tested by the weather.

A heavy dose of snow is forecast for the Cincinnati area, which means that the playing surface at Paul Brown Stadium may be a little on the slippery side.

“I probably haven’t played in the snow since I was throwing a football around as a kid, so [I’m] very excited about [the possibility],” Luck said Wednesday. “I think there’s something about it that’s fun, so we’re looking forward to it.

“I don’t think you want to think about it too much, in a sense. I think when you start thinking about [the weather], you’re thinking about the wrong things.”

For the moment the Colts’ second-year quarterback isn’t as concerned about the weather as he is facing a Cincinnati team that comes into Sunday’s matchup with an identical 8-4 record. Both teams are expected to win their respective divisions (AFC South, AFC North) and are vying for the best possible playoff seeding.

“Yeah, we know it’s going to be a great challenge. I think they’re the leaders of the AFC North right now. A phenomenal football team. I know from our perspective as an offense, [Cincinnati has] a tough stingy defense,” he pointed out.

“An aggressive defense. A lot of playmakers all over the field. So it will be a great challenge and it will be a lot of fun.”

Luck, as does the rest of the Colts team, know the stakes involved in the game with Cincinnati.

“Coach [Chuck] Pagano sort of spelled out where we are as a team. I think it’s good to sort of be aware of that. But also, at the same time, it’s a football game,” he said. “We go out to win every football game, especially when it’s down in Cincinnati [that’s] a couple of hours away. [It’s] a good little rivalry.

“We’ve got to win games to make it to the playoffs. And then also you hope to sort of, not that the ship is in the wrong direction, but iron out all of your kinks and we know we’ve got a chance to do that.”

As for the Bengals’ defense, Luck is pretty familiar with Cincinnati weakside linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The two faced each other in college several times (Stanford, Arizona State).

“I thought he was definitely a playmaker in college and he’s definitely seemed to flourish in these couple of years with the Bengals,” the Colts signal caller said.

“I’m happy for him. Great football player. You definitely have to respect the way he plays the game and he’s done a heck of a job. It’s going to be a fun challenge.”

• • •

• Roster moves — The Colts elevated OLB Daniel Adongo and OT Xavier Nixon from the practice squad to the active roster. Indianapolis also added FB Robert Hughes and DT Jeris Pendleton to the practice squad.

Adongo is a former professional rugby player who had never played American football until signing with the Colts last summer.

He reported for training camp at his rugby playing weight of 240 pounds. Adongo, however, is now a well-chiseled 270. An outstanding athlete, he will be making his NFL debut Sunday against the Bengals working with the special teams units.

“I think back to his very first workout when we first brought him in after a 17-hour flight to Atlanta and then catch a connector up here and come right in. Go to the indoor facility. As we bring in guys every week to try out, street guys and things like that, from what we saw to right now, it’s night and day," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.

"The guy is a smart guy. We know from a physical standpoint he’s very, very athletic. He can run. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s a tireless worker. He’s been a great pro. Even though he hasn’t played, he’s picked up a ton. Our veteran guys, guys like Robert [Mathis] and the rest of the guys in the defensive room, have been tremendous working with him and mentoring him and bringing him along and helping his development to this point. So, other than actual real game under the lights stuff, he’s been outstanding. If he gets an opportunity [Sunday], I’m sure everybody is going to be real eager to see what he does.”

Could Adongo get work with the defense? Probably not, but Pagano didn't completely rule it out.

"We've got five outside backers that have been playing the lion’s share of the snaps. Not a great need there," he said. "From a special teams standpoint, again, he gives you a big, long, athletic, fast, physical guy that can play in space. That’s where we’ll start.”

ILB Mario Harvey (torn meniscus) and RB Daniel “Boom” Herron (pectoral tear) were both placed on the Colts’ injured reserve list.

• Injury list — Offensive guard/tackle Jeff Linkenbach will not play Sunday at Cincinnati. He started at right offensive guard last week against Tennessee but suffered a torn quad muscle. Linkenbach, who did not practice Wednesday, is sidelined indefinitely.

No decision has been made who will line up at either guard spot. Rookie Hugh Thornton, along with veterans Mike McGlynn and Joe Reitz, are the candidates. Thornton has been the starting left guard, filling in for injured starter Donald Thomas who is out for the year. McGlynn had been starting at right guard until last week.

Cornerback Greg Toler (groin) saw limited work Wednesday. Cornerback Josh Gordy (groin), along with inside linebacker Kavell Conner (ankle), returned for full practice. Thornton (neck), safety Sergio Brown (hand) and defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois (foot) did not practice. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (shoulder) was limited.

• Caskey on Bengals coaching staff — Former Indiana State offensive line and tight ends coach Kyle Caskey is an offensive assistant with Cincinnati.

Caskey worked under former Sycamore head coaches Lou West and Trent Miles from 2006-08.

The son of Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, Marcus, played linebacker for the Sycamores for four seasons. He graduated last summer.