It’s not too hard to figure out who the offensive and defensive players of the game were in the Indianapolis Colts’ 25-3 win over Houston Sunday.
A pair of second-year performers, wide receiver Griff Whalen and running back Trent Richardson, earned offensive plaudits. Outside linebacker Robert Mathis and cornerback Darius Butler, meanwhile, got the defensive attention.
Whalen, who had been signed to the active roster from the practice squad on Saturday, caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. It was his first NFL touchdown and was delivered from 14 yards out by college teammate Andrew Luck, who was happy for his former Stanford roommate.
The former college walk-on also had a 51-yard punt return to set up one of Adam Vinatieri’s three field goals.
“Not surprised. He prepares like a starter every week. Coach [Chuck] Pagano has always preached the message, where ever you are on the depth chart, whatever it is, you prepare like a starter,” Luck said Sunday.
“Coaches coach everybody the same way. It pays off in situations like this when maybe you’re a little thin personnel-wise and guys step up. Again, great job by Griff. Touchdown catch, a lot of big catches, punt return. He deserves it. He deserves all the good things.”
Whalen was elevated to the active roster after it was determined that wide receiver LaVon Brazill would be unable to play against the Texans. Brazill suffered a foot injury in last week’s loss to Cincinnati and had been unable to practice all week.
“Yeah, it’s a testament to his work ethic and the character that he has,” Pagano said. “I talked about it to the team in there because Griff’s been active, been cut, been put back on the practice squad two and three times.
“Griff is not one of those guys that would go in the tank, so to speak. He’s a grinder. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s got something to prove. And he’s not one of those guys that got away from doing the things that you need to do in order to have another opportunity and then take advantage of it.”
That’s the good news. The bad is that it appears as if Whalen may have hurt his foot during the game. He is expected to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging test to determine the severity of the injury.
n Richardson looking better — Richardson had a game-high 64 yards in 19 carries against the Texans. He also caught four passes for 38 yards and a touchdown.
“Can’t do anything but help his confidence. Trent’s been practicing extremely well also. Feeling more comfortable with the offense,” Pagano voiced.
“We saw it two weeks ago, last week and now with the positive things that happened to him [against Houston]. It’s great for Trent and great for our offense and great for his confidence.”
n Mathis and Butler impress — Mathis broke the franchise single-season record with a sack that gave him 16.5. Butler had a pair of interceptions and came close to getting a third against the Texans.
“[Mathis] should be in the conversation someday to be in the Hall of Fame I would think,” Pagano said. “Doing what he’s done for as long a period that he’s done and the records that he has, who knows? We’ll see. He’s got my vote. I don’t have one but he’s got it anyway.”
Pagano was also happy with Butler’s production.
“Yeah, it was big. D-Buts is a playmaker, as we know. D-Buts getting two interceptions was huge,” he said.
n Dickerson, Faulk in the Ring of Honor — Former Colts running backs Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk were both inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor during halftime ceremonies Sunday.
Dickerson (1987-91) had 5,194 career rushing yards for Indianapolis. Faulk, meanwhile, ran for 5,320 yards from 1994-98.
n Injury list — In addition to Whalen, offensive guard Joe Reitz left Sunday’s game with concussion symptoms and did not return. He was replaced by offensive guard/tackle Xavier Nixon, who played most of the game.
Also, running back Donald Brown was sidelined early with a stinger. He did not return. Outside linebacker Daniel Adongo (hamstring) and safety Sergio Brown (groin) were also hurt and did not return to the game.
Defensive tackle Montori Hughes (knee) left briefly but later returned. Cornerback Greg Toler (concussion), fullback Stanley Havili (knee), offensive guard Jeff Linkenbach (quad), defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois (foot), center Samson Satele (elbow) and Brazill were all pre-game inactives.
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer was an apparent healthy pre-game inactive.