News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 20, 2011

More wins to come?

Colts have 2 weeks left

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — With a win finally under their belts, the Indianapolis Colts (1-13) now look forward to two days of intensive work beginning today.

The Colts are scheduled to face 2011 AFC South champion Houston (10-4) in a nationally televised game on Thursday night, which means that Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell has just two days – Tuesday and Wednesday – to get his team prepared for the Texans.

Monday was an off day as the Colts tried to get some much needed rest before returning to the practice field.

“Anytime you get a win it’s good. The guys have been working hard, been doing things the right way and we haven’t had a whole lot of guys complaining or pointing fingers. They’ve stayed together, they’ve fought together and it’s always good to get a positive result,” Caldwell said Monday of the team’s work ethic during the long losing streak.

“Every game is a little different. Challenges are different, and this week will be a little bit different, obviously, than the previous [week], but I think [the win] gives our guys a bit of a lift.”

Now it’s on to the Texans.

“I remember last time we had a short week like this we even found out some guys had some issues that they felt that they could not run as well as they thought they could run once they got out there during the course of practice. So we’ll try to make certain that we kind of go through the process with a great majority of them and adjust where we have to,” the Colts coach said.

“We are probably going to have to walk through some of the segments of practice this week, because the week is so short, getting ready for a real tough Houston team.”

• Injury report – If the Colts could have practiced Monday, the team’s injury list would have been crowded.

DE Jamaal Anderson (groin), S Antoine Bethea (knee), RB Delone Carter (forearm), TE Dallas Clark (neck), LB A.J. Edds (ankle), DE Robert Mathis (knee), LB Phillip Wheeler (foot), DE Dwight Freeney (rest) and C Jeff Saturday (rest) all would have sat out.

• Manning update – With a short week coming up, Caldwell isn't sure how much time, if any, quarterback  Peyton Manning will spend on the practice field.

“I’m not real certain. It is at [Manning’s] discretion. It just depends on where he could fit in. But we’ll see,” the Colts coach said.

With all the questions surrounding Manning’s recovery and rehab from his Sept. 8 neck fusion surgery, it would be easy for the situation to turn into a distraction. But Caldwell says that hasn’t happened.

“No. It would be different if he wasn’t here and wasn’t around, [but] he’s here, he’s around and he’s with the guys. To [the media and fans] it may look a little different from the outside in. But from the inside out, there was no distraction at all,” Caldwell said.

“He hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s been working, and it’s not any new occurrence. It’s just ramping up his activity just a little bit more and more, so he’s been around. He’s not like one of those guys that goes away and rehabs in Tahiti or someplace. He’s a blue-collar guy, he works here, he trains here and he rehabs here, so we see him every day and have direct contact with him. He’s been around, so it’s not like he just arrived. But we are glad to see he’s doing well, that’s for sure.”

Team vice chairman Bill Polian, meanwhile, was asked on his weekly Monday night radio show the chances of Manning being back with the team in 2012.

“I don't know the answer to that. There are so many variables involved that it’s impossible to tell at this point in time. It’s our fervent hope that he is. But I couldn’t unequivocally give you an answer of yea or nay,” Polian said.

• Don’t care about the draft – Now that the Colts have won a game, some fans wouldn’t mind seeing the team go ahead and lose to Houston and Jacksonville to close out the season.

By dropping the games, the team would clinch the first pick in the 2012 National Football League draft. But if Indianapolis winds up beating both the Texans and Jaguars, either Minnesota or St. Louis – both with 2-12 records – might edge the Colts out of the top spot.

“I focus in on the things that matter, and what matters is, obviously, our preparation for this next game. I’m sure there are a lot of things out there that are being said about a number of different topics, but we try to instruct our guys to stay focused on getting ready and getting prepared, and that’s what we do as a staff as well,” Caldwell said.

And when asked if winning Thursday night’s matchup with Houston and next week’s with Jacksonville was on the agenda, his response was a simple one.

“Certainly. Our job is to win games,” the Colts coach said.