News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

December 23, 2013

Toeing the line: Colts’ offensive line getting healthy, finding niche as playoffs near

TERRE HAUTE — The Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line has certainly taken its share of hits this season, both on and off the field.

Inconsistency and injuries have gone hand-in-hand with the Colts. How bad has it been? Indianapolis faced a good Kansas City defense this past Sunday with its seventh different combination up front. No wonder the Colts have struggled to get a meshing of talent going.

But in the team’s 23-7 win over the Chiefs, Indianapolis had 135 yards rushing as a team — led by Donald Brown’s 79 on 10 carries — and allowed only one sack.

Not a bad effort considering the circumstances and considering who/where the Colts played. Kansas City’s defense had recorded 35 sacks through its first 14 games of the season.

“Those have done a great job. [Offensive line] coach [Joe] Gilbert and [assistant offensive line coach] Frank Giufre do a tremendous job with those guys. They’ve got a lot of pride in what they do,” Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano praised.

“It doesn’t matter right now because of versatility and guys bouncing around. Mike [McGlynn] being able to play center when he played guard. Getting [center] Samson [Satele] back. A young guy like [rookie free agent] Xavier Nixon coming in and doing the job that he is doing.”

Nixon, normally an offensive tackle, has played offensive guard the last two games as he filled in for injured starter Joe Reitz (concussion). He had a key block early in the third quarter of the Kansas City game when Brown broke loose for a 51-yard touchdown run.

Reitz had been filling in for rookie starter Hugh Thornton, who was sidelined with a neck injury. And Thornton? He had taken over as a starter when veteran free-agent signee Donald Thomas was sidelined for the season with a torn quad.

McGlynn has gone from offensive guard to center for two games when Satele was out with an injured elbow.

He went back to guard Sunday in the Colts’ most recent makeshift offensive line configuration.

Two of the constants on the offensive line have been tackles Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilis.

“We just feel real good about all of the offensive linemen in there practicing real hard,” Castonzo said. “For a guy like Xavier [Nixon] to step up and do what he’s done the last two weeks, nobody’s really surprised. But we’re all really proud of him.”

• • •

• Injury list — Defensive tackle Cory Redding (shoulder) was injured early in the fourth quarter of the Kansas City game. He did not return. A magnetic resonance testing exam, though, after the game was negative. Redding is not expected to practice today but should return later in the week and be available for the Jacksonville game.

Also due back are defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois (foot), rookie outside linebacker Daniel Adongo (hamstring), safety Sergio Brown (groin), Reitz (concussion), Thornton (neck), rookie defensive tackle Montori Hughes (knee) and Linkenbach (quad).

Reitz has passed his concussion tests and could return to the starting lineup Sunday against the Jaguars.

• DHB impresses coaches — Wide receiver Darrius Heywood-Bey has seen his playing time on offense decreased in recent weeks due to inconsistent play and dropped passes.

But Heywood-Bey has volunteered to play on special teams. He was a gunner in the Kansas City game and had one tackle on punt coverage.

“He’s done a great job. He’s selfless. It speaks volumes about the guy’s character,” Pagano said. “He said that he wanted to do whatever he could to help [the team win].”

n Toler returns — Cornerback Greg Toler returned to the playing field against the Chiefs after missing several games with a groin injury.

Toler had not played since he was sidelined against Denver on Oct. 20. He was limited in his playing time, though, as the coaching staff didn’t want to overload him coming back from an injury. Also, the cold weather limited Toler’s overall playing time.

• The Griffer — Wide receiver Griff Whalen continues to improve. Whalen was able to pick up some big first downs in the win over Kansas City and is also handling punt returns for the Colts. It was the second straight game that Whalen has been Indianapolis’ primary punt returner.

“The guy is accountable, trustworthy. And he makes plays,” the Colts’ coach said.

Whalen was Indianapolis’ leading receiver with seven catches for 80 yards, four of those receptions picking up first downs. He also had four punt returns for 32 yards.

• Defense getting better — Over the last two games, in wins over Houston and Kansas City, the Indianapolis defense has recorded eight sacks, four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and allowed 10 points.

“I’ll tell you we’re having more fun than the month of November. I could tell you that. Inconsistent play is not good, whatsoever. I don’t care what level you’re on — high school, Pop Warner, whatever. You want to be consistent. You want to play good and you want victories. You want Ws. I don’t care how you get them, you want them,” Redding said.

“Right now, just the last three weeks, we’ve been playing very consistently. We’ve been playing together. We’ve been playing with energy. Our offense has been playing really good as well. It just goes hand in hand, man. Special teams … all three phases of the game have really just been focused on the little things. Just going out there and playing for one another and just having fun on the football field. It’s truly been showing on the scoreboard.”

• Playoff tickets — Indianapolis playoff tickets will be available for purchase beginning at 10 a.m. next Monday through normal outlets such as Lucas Oil Stadium ticket office, Ticketmaster ticket centers, www.ticketmaster.com and charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000.

If the Colts are playing wild-card weekend, the game will take place either Saturday, Jan. 4, or Sunday, Jan. 5. The divisional weekend will be Saturday, Jan. 11, and Sunday, Jan. 12.

All wild-card weekend playoff dates and times will be finalized Sunday evening. Prices vary and are determined by the NFL.

 

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Tribune-Star/Jim Avelis Team effort: The North Terre Haute Little League All-Starts won the District 4 championship by beating Clinton 4-0 Friday evening.

  • Bradley’s stellar pitching helps TH North win District 4 title

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  • Andy Amey: Just a small trip to talk about this time

    To paraphrase Carl Spackler, the heavy stuff’s not going to come for quite awhile. So while it’s true that I’m back from a week’s vacation, it’s not time — yet — for the big vacation column. Trips to Noblesville, Brunswick and Reelsville, while providing some nice family time, don’t really have the cachet to fill newspaper space.

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  • Pacers sign three free agents

    The Pacers couldn’t keep waiting around for Lance Stephenson to make up his mind. So on Friday, they went to work. The two-time Eastern Conference runner-ups announced they had signed three free agents — backup big man Lavoy Allen, swingman C.J. Miles and Damjan Rudez, a sharp-shooting forward from Europe.

    July 11, 2014

  • Odum heads for Vegas with Kings summer team

    Terre Haute native Jake Odum scored three points in the Indiana Pacers’ 84-74 victory on Thursday over the Miami Heat in the Orlando Summer League.

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  • Metro sports: Rosselli, Biechler capture Prospect League honors

    The Terre Haute Rex swept the Prospect League Player of the Week honors this week.

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  • Thoroughbreds complete race card at Martinsville

    Thoroughbred races were on Friday’s card to wind up four days of Illinois racing at the Martinsville Agricultural Fair. Horses owned by Bart Baird and Lance and Stacey Holsapple won all six of the thoroughbred races on the card with two other features run for ponies and mules.

    July 11, 2014

  • LeBron James says he’s returning to Cavaliers

    LeBron James is going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
    James told Sports Illustrated Friday that he’s decided to go home. It’s a move that would have seemed unfathomable four years ago, after the venomous fallout that followed his decision to leave Cleveland for the Miami Heat.

    July 11, 2014

  • Sports: What’s going on today

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  • SPT 071014 RAMER TROPHY.jpg Ramer, Kuppler claim junior city golf titles

    Megan Ramer and Colton Kuppler were two winners in the junior city golf tournament concluded Thursday in sunny, warm conditions at Rea Park.
    Both golfers claimed titles in the 15-17 age division for the first time while Ramer and Andrew Granda were two of the winners in the 2013 tournament.

    July 11, 2014 3 Photos

  • Rex return from All-Star break with a win at Danville

    The Terre Haute Rex returned to action on Thursday in winning fashion as they defeated Danville 4-1.

    July 11, 2014

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