The big question for the Indianapolis Colts as they prepare for Sunday's home game with Buffalo is a pretty simple one.
Can the Colts, now 6-4 for the season and still in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot, rebound from last week's 59-24 loss to New England?
Interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, for one, believes they can.
“It’s a process. We talk about the process all the time. It has to be consistent every week. Win, lose or draw you put that behind you Monday night and you move on,” Arians explained Wednesday.
“If you bask in the sunlight of a win, you’re going to get beat. If you pout and worry about getting beat, you’ll get beat again. It’s back to work. The Buffalo Bills are a great challenge and we need to protect our home turf and get win number seven no matter what the cost.”
Despite fielding a team that has undergone so much turnover on its roster from last year to this season, Indianapolis has been able to rally each week after losing to Chicago (41-21), Jacksonville (22-17), and the New York Jets (35-9).
Can the Colts do it again? Arians thinks they can and offers up some reasoning why.
“I think it talks about the veteran leadership in our locker room. They’re the best I’ve been around and they’re continually harping on these young guys on what it takes to win and we’re going to come back,” he explained.
“Fortunately, we were able to come back home after those losses and win. This is another one that we need to make sure that we take care of this home field advantage that we have and the 12th man again needs to be outstanding like they’ve always been, especially against [the Bills] offense.”
Arians is wary of Buffalo's quick strike ability on offense.
“They’re explosive. They’ve got a lot of speed. [Running back] C.J. Spiller can score at the drop of a hat. [Quarterback] Ryan’s a streaky player, Fitzpatrick, I mean he can really get on a roll,” he said.
“They’ve got speed. They can spread you out much like New England. They get it out quick. They’re hard to sack. They probably lead the league in screen yardage. I mean they’ve got every type of screen known to man. Middle screens, running backs are devastating on screen passes and they do a very good job of their screen game. They are the best in the league. I think they’re averaging 11-yards per completion on a screen.”
An opportunistic Bills defense, meanwhile, is on the mind of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. Buffalo has intercepted eight passes while also forcing nine fumbles so far this season.
“I realize [that] if you look at all losses, it’s turnovers that have killed us, especially on my end, whether it’s fumbles or interceptions,” Luck said before Wednesday’s workout.
“I realize that I’ve got to cut down on those if we want to have a chance to win. Hopefully we can improve on that.”
• Arians thankful – The Colts’ interim coach was asked Wednesday what he was most thankful about this year. His response was a pretty good one.
“Oh gosh. I’m thankful for the Pittsburgh Steelers letting me go to be here,” Arians said with a smile. “Truthfully, I couldn’t think of a better place to be at this point in time and to have felt more needed probably in my entire life. So thank you Pittsburgh.”
After eight years with the Steelers, five as the team’s offensive coordinator, he was forced out by Pittsburgh’s front office at the end of the 2011 season.
• The hug at New England – Late in last week’s loss to the Patriots, Arians went over and hugged Luck. He also quietly gave him a pep talk.
“I told him that the guy he replaced [Peyton Manning], his first game in New England. I was standing there with him and it was almost déjà vu,” he explained Wednesday. “It was an ugly game and go back out there, there’s three minutes left, we’re going to sling it and see what you can learn from every throw. He’s got so much grit that he knew exactly what I was talking about.”
• Injury list – Cornerback Vontae Davis (knee) and rookie tight end Coby Fleener (shoulder) both got back on the practice field Wednesday. Davis and Fleener have both been sidelined since getting hurt at Tennessee on Oct. 28.
Wide receiver Donnie Avery, who left the New England game with a concussion, also participated in the workout. Defensive end Cory Redding (hip) said Wednesday that he wants to play this week.
“There’s really no new news to bring. Cory is getting better [but did] not practice [Wednesday]. We expect him to get out there by Friday. Fleener is limited in practice. We’ll see how the week goes. Vontae Davis [is] also is limited. We’ll see how the week goes with those guys. Everybody else is ready to go,” Arians said.
Free safety Antoine Bethea missed practice with an ankle injury Wednesday. The remainder of the official daily injury report included Davis (did not practice), Redding (did not practice), outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (rest, did not practice), Avery (full practice), running back Donald Brown (knee, full practice), rookie nose tackle Josh Chapman (knee, full practice), Luck (knee, full practice), Fleener (limited practice), and cornerback Teddy Williams (hamstring, full practice).
• Roster moves — Tight end Dominque Jones was signed to the active roster Wednesday. Jones had been waived earlier in the season and had been playing with Miami.
Rookie offensive guard Justin Anderson — who was activated off the reserve/physically unable to perform list on Monday and waived on Tuesday — was signed to the practice squad on Wednesday.
Running back Alvester Alexander was waived off the practice squad on Tuesday. Cornerback Marshay Green, waived Friday, has also been signed to the practice squad. Tight end Kyle Miller was released Monday and has since signed with the Dolphins.
• Sold out — The Colts-Bills game has officially been declared a sell out and will be televised locally.
Indianapolis officials, however, do anticipate some visiting team returns from Buffalo. Those visiting team returned tickets do not count against lifting the NFL’s mandated television blackout. Those tickets will be made available through normal channels.
Tickets are available for the two remaining regular season home games at the Lucas Oil Stadium ticket office, Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000 or at www.ticketmaster.com