News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 6, 2012

Titans to sport new look vs. Colts

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — Even though the Indianapolis Colts won the first meeting with the Tennessee Titans, interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians doesn’t think it will help his team Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Colts posted a come-from-behind 19-13 overtime win on Oct. 28 at Nashville’s LP Field. Indianapolis’ victory was big at the time as it was the Colts’ first road win of the season.  

Since then, Indianapolis has won two of its last three road matchups (wins over Jacksonville and Detroit, losing to New England).

But there have been several changes to the Titans since the two teams last faced off.

Jake Locker is expected to start at quarterback for Tennessee instead of Matt Hasselbeck. There’s a new offensive coordinator. There have also been some injuries on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball that may affect who plays and how much they play this week.

Arians, though, thinks that the Titans (4-8) are on the verge of turning things around.

“They’ve gotten better and better,” the Colts assistant said. “The injury bug has hit them too like everybody else.

“They are as explosive as they’ve ever been, if [wide receiver] Kenny Britt plays. [Running back] Chris Johnson is as good as it gets. We’ve got our work cut out for us. They gave us problems with their pass rush down in Nashville that we’re going to have to work on. I think we’ve gotten a little bit better also, so I think it’s going to be a fun game. If we get the crowd going like we always do, I like our chances.”

Johnson is fourth in the AFC with 993 yards rushing and is averaging just under 100 yards per game since the last time he faced the Colts.

Locker, meanwhile, has started the last three games for the Titans after returning from a shoulder injury he suffered on Sept. 30 against the Texans. He has averaged 285 passing yards and 29.5 rushing yards in his past two starts.

Besides Britt, who has caught 32 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns, rookie WR Kendall Wright leads the receiving corps with 54 catches for 516 yards and four TDs. WR Nate Washington is also a big-play threat with 38 receptions for 633 yards and four touchdowns.

The Colts (8-4) are one game ahead of Pittsburgh (7-5) and Cincinnati (7-5) in the AFC wild-card race. A trio of AFC teams is at 5-7.

• Stat of the week – Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck has attempted 30 or more passes in 10 of the Colts’ 12 games this season.

Luck has attempted 40 or more passes in seven games. He has had 50 or more passing attempts in two games, including 54 in last week’s come-from-behind win over Detroit. Luck had a career-best 55 passing attempts in the home win over Green Bay.

In comparison, Washington rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has attempted 30 or more passes four times. He had a career-high 39 pass attempts in a loss to Pittsburgh.

• Captains – After a recent players-only vote, the Colts elected captains for the 2012 season.

Luck and wide receiver Reggie Wayne were selected as offensive captains. Defensive end Cory Redding and outside linebacker Robert Mathis earned captain’s status on defense. Safety Joe Lefeged and punter Pat McAfee were voted as the special teams captains.

• Sellout – Indianapolis officials announced that the team sold its remaining 500 tickets that were available for Sunday’s game with Tennessee.

The Colts-Titans matchup (CBS Sports) will be televised locally.

• Roster moves – It’s been a busy couple of days for Indianapolis' player personnel department.

Tight end Dominique Jones was waived off the active roster on Monday and then added to the team’s practice squad a day later.

Also, Indianapolis signed LB Jamaal Westerman to the active roster, activated guard Seth Olsen from injured reserve and placed linebacker Justin Hickman (hamstring) on injured reserve. The team also signed running back Alvester Alexander to the practice squad.

Finally, the Colts released cornerback Isaiah Green and tight end Martell Webb from the practice squad.

• Injury list – Safety Tom Zbikowski (knee) and running back Donald Brown (ankle) have both been ruled out of Sunday’s game with Tennessee.

Zbikowski was hurt against Buffalo two weeks ago and did not make the trip to Detroit last Sunday. Brown, meanwhile, was injured in the win over the Lions. Neither player took part in Wednesday’s practice.

Also sitting out were offensive tackle Winston Justice (head), guard Joe Reitz (head) and Redding (ankle). Arians said that he hopes to know more about the status of Justice and Reitz later this week.

Redding is expected to play but a final determination won’t be made until Friday or Saturday. He might be a game-time decision.