AFC South: Indianapolis Colts

Reitz
INDIANAPOLIS -- With Hugh Thornton expected to miss Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins because of a knee injury, Joe Reitz will start at guard, according to a source.

Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said during his media portion on Wednesday that they'll choose either Reitz or Xavier Nixon to start, but the decision has already been determined.

Thornton injured his knee against the Jaguars. Nixon initially replaced Thornton in the lineup before A.Q. Shipley, who lost his starting center position earlier this season, took over at the position.

The Colts can start Reitz at guard because right tackle Gosder Cherilus returned to practice Wednesday and is expected to play Sunday after missing last weekend's game with a shoulder injury. Reitz started at right tackle against the Jaguars.
INDIANAPOLIS -- What seemed like a temporary switch at the starting running back position for the Indianapolis Colts because Trent Richardson missed some practice time last week with flu-like symptoms was actually not the case.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano actually started Daniel “Boom” Herron at running back against the Jacksonville Jaguars because he outperformed Richardson in practice last week.

Pagano didn’t say who will start at running back against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, but if he goes off performance against the Jaguars, Herron will continue to start.

Herron rushed 12 times for 65 yards and had five catches for 31 yards. Richardson rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown on 13 attempts and didn’t have any catches out of the backfield. Richardson and Herron played 41 and 32 snaps, respectively, against Jacksonville.

The Colts rushed for a season-high 175 yards against Jacksonville, but they needed Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief to contribute 68 yards rushing for that to happen.

“We’ll see how the week goes,” Pagano said. “They both practiced well last week. We all know Trent missed last Wednesday out sick, but they both practiced well and we’ll see how they practice this week and make a decision.”

If Herron continues to start, which appears to be the case, it’ll be the second straight season that Richardson, who the Colts gave up a first-round draft pick to acquire from Cleveland in September 2013, has lost his starting position late in the season. He lost it to Donald Brown in Week 12 last season.

QB snapshot: Andrew Luck

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
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A quick observation of quarterback Andrew Luck and how he played in the Colts' 23-3 win in Week 12:

Luck
Andrew Luck mentioned it. So did coach Chuck Pagano. Receiver Reggie Wayne was blunt about it.

In order for the Colts to have an effective pass game they were going to have to be able to run the ball.

Message heard and accomplished.

The Colts rushed for a season-high 175 yards against the Jaguars.

The run game set up the pass game perfectly for Luck.

Luck was 6-of-6 for 113 yards on play-action passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information. His only touchdown pass came on play-action. Luck threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to receiver T.Y. Hilton in the third quarter off play-action.

The Colts got contributions in the run game from several players, including Hilton.

Daniel "Boom" Herron led the Colts with 65 yards. Luck had 49 yards, Trent Richardson rushed for 42 and Hilton had a run for 15.

Not pretty, but it was effective for the Colts.

“I like where we’re at and we’ll continue to go,” Pagano said. “The runners ran hard [Sunday] and there was again a really good front that we were going against and good linebackers that play downhill, guys that are fast. We’re going to see it week in and week out, so we’re going to keep hammering the point home that especially down the stretch and playing on the road, playing in cold weather when conditions aren’t conducive to throwing the football every snap, you’re going to have to be able to run the football. So it was good to see us generate some yards.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts starting guard Hugh Thornton is week-to-week with a sprained MCL, coach Chuck Pagano said Monday. Thornton suffered the injury in Sunday's 23-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Thornton
Thornton
Xavier Nixon and A.Q. Shipley spent time playing guard after Thornton left the game. Pagano didn't say who will start in Thornton's place against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. The Colts could go with Nixon, Shipley or Joe Reitz at guard. Reitz could start there because Indianapolis is expected to have right tackle Gosder Cherilus back for Sunday's game. Reitz started in Cherilus' place against the Jaguars.

"We're going to continue to talk about that as a staff in the next 24-48 hours," Pagano said. "We know we have a bunch of guys who are more than capable. We know A.Q. can play, we know Xavier can play. We have some flexibility with Joe."

As far as other injuries go:

-- Cornerback Greg Toler is expected to be at the team's facility Tuesday to finish up the NFL's concussion protocol. Pagano believes Toler should be able to play against the Redskins.

-- Cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy has to go through the concussion protocol after reporting to the facility with a headache Monday.

-- Pagano said he's not sure if tight end Dwayne Allen (ankle), who missed the Jacksonville game, will be ready to return against the Redskins.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Reggie Wayne's streak of at least three catches in a game was in jeopardy.

Serious jeopardy, for that matter.

Bush
Wayne
The Indianapolis Colts receiver only had one reception through the first three-plus quarters of Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That’s when Colts coach Chuck Pagano, whose history with Wayne goes back to the University of Miami, took control and made sure one of his favorites kept his streak intact.

So with less than three minutes remaining in a game that was well determined, Pagano called a played where quarterback Andrew Luck completed a 3-yard pass to Wayne.

That was reception No. 2. One more to go for Wayne.

Then on the very next play, Luck completed another short pass to Wayne that resulted in a loss of a yard.

Eighty-one straight games with at least three catches for Wayne.

“We’re talking about a player who’s played at a very high level for 14 years now, given and represented this organization, this city, the horseshoe as good as anybody over the last 14 years,” Pagano said Monday. “Everything he gets, he’s earned.”

How did Luck feel about the call?

"Yeah, that's from above, above me," he said.

It was obvious Pagano was cutting corners to keep Wayne’s streak together well before he acknowledged it Monday because the Colts kneeled on the ball the rest of the game after those two plays. They could have simply run the ball for the final three minutes of the game.

“I don’t think there would be one person that would argue my decision on what I decided to do,” Pagano said. “I called the play, I made the decision and those guys go run the plays, and Reggie would never come up to me, nobody on our team would come up to me. They just want to win football games. And do I have any second thoughts about what I did? Not one bit.”

Rapid Reaction: Indianapolis Colts

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
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INDIANAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts' 23-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday:

What it means: This was supposed to be a bounce-back game for the Colts. After the way New England beat them last week, they had to do more than simply win. But that wasn’t the case, as the Colts struggled for more than a half before they got going by scoring 14 points in the third quarter. The Colts shook off giving up five sacks and fumbling six times, losing three of them. Houston’s loss to Cincinnati gives the Colts a two-game lead over the Texans in the AFC South with five remaining.

Stock watch: The offensive line was atrocious in the first half, giving up five sacks. Jacksonville's Chris Clemons had three sacks and a forced fumble in the first half. The offensive line did play better in the second half, not giving up a sack in the final 30 minutes of the game.

Luck’s streak ends: Andrew Luck's streak of consecutive games with at least 300 yards passing ended at eight games. He finished with 253 yards and a touchdown on 21-of-32 passing.

Boom starts: In what could be looked at as surprising decision, Daniel “Boom” Herron started at running back over Trent Richardson. Herron had been the third running back most of the season behind Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw. Herron moved up on the depth chart after Bradshaw was placed on injured reserve with a fractured fibula. Herron finished with 65 yards on 12 carries, while Richardson had 42 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

Cribbs’ presence felt: It didn’t take long to realize Josh Cribbs was an immediate upgrade over Griff Whalen as the Colts’ return specialist. One kickoff, in fact. Cribbs, whom the Colts just signed last week, took the opening kickoff 9 yards deep in the end zone and returned it 46 yards. Cribbs thought he had a punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter when he fumbled the ball, picked it up and took off for an apparent 82-yard touchdown, but the touchdown was nullified because Josh Gordy was called for unnecessary roughness on the play. Cribbs finished with 64 yards on two kickoff returns and 48 yards on five punt returns.

Game ball: Receiver T.Y. Hilton stayed true to his word when he said he wanted to score a touchdown for his newborn daughter, Eugenia. Hilton caught a 73-yard touchdown pass, then cradled the football in the end zone like it was his daughter. Hilton finished with four receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown.

What’s next: The Colts complete their three-game homestand when they host the Washington Redskins at Lucas Oil Stadium on Nov. 30.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts are getting some help along the defensive line at just the right time.

Defensive lineman Art Jones, who has played in less than three games this season because of an ankle injury, will be back in the lineup Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Nobody anticipated the ankle and the injury and those types of things and you don’t wish it on anybody and it is frustrating for everybody in this building, but he’s back out there and he has to go play and he has to go play well,” coach Chuck Pagano said.

Jones’ return comes after the New England Patriots rushed for 244 yards against the Colts last Sunday.

Jones has made his presence felt when he’s been on the field. The issue is he hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough to have the type of impact the Colts envisioned when they signed him to a five-year, $33 million contract in March.

In the 104 snaps Jones has played this season, the Colts have not given up a rushing touchdown and they’ve allowed only five runs of at least 10 yards. The Colts have allowed 12 rushing touchdowns and 33 plays of at least 10 yards, including six to the Patriots, without Jones on the field.

In other injury news for the Colts on Wednesday:
  • Running back Trent Richardson didn’t practice because of an illness.
  • Cornerback Greg Toler has to go through the NFL’s concussion protocol before he can practice. He took a hit in the game against New England and showed up at the facility with a headache on Monday.
  • Tight end Dwayne Allen didn’t practice because of his injured ankle.
  • Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and receiver Reggie Wayne were given Wednesday off for rest days.
INDIANAPOLIS -- It was the perfect mix early in the season. The kind of mix the Indianapolis Colts had been waiting to have for more than a year.

Running backs Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw supplied enough on the ground to keep the defense honest and allow quarterback Andrew Luck to make plays with his arm.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck, Trent Richardson
Jonathan Moore/Getty ImagesThrough 11 weeks, Trent Richardson and the Colts rank 17th in rushing yards per game with 104.3.
First came the demotion of center A.Q. Shipley that still has yet to be explained. Then there were some injuries on the interior part of the offensive line. And to cap off what's been a very unimpressive past few weeks on the ground, the Colts lost Bradshaw for the season earlier this week because of a fractured fibula.

"It's like when Trent was out [against Pittsburgh] with the hammy, Ahmad was the guy then," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "The next man up filled that role. Trent and [Daniel "Boom" Herron] and whoever."

Richardson and Bradshaw have basically shared the workload this season, but if the Colts are going to use the same type of system they used against the Steelers on Oct. 26, that means Richardson will get the majority of the carries. Bradshaw played 48 of the 66 snaps against the Steelers, with Herron getting the other 18 snaps.

There's a good chance the Colts will add another running back to the active roster. LeGarrette Blount was released by Pittsburgh on Tuesday, and the Colts could also elevate Zurlon Tipton from the practice squad.

Something needs to be done with the running game because Indianapolis has not rushed for 100 yards in a game in its past three contests and in four of its past five. Not counting Luck's 15 yards rushing, Bradshaw and Richardson ran for an embarrassing four yards on 14 attempts against the New England Patriots last weekend.

The Colts were a cohesive group along the offensive line when Shipley started. They averaged 118 yards a game rushing in the four games he started. That average has drastically dropped since Jonotthan Harrison became the Colts' starting center. They're only averaging 95 yards a game rushing in the past five games. Guards Jack Mewhort and Hugh Thornton have both missed two games since Harrison became the starter.

Comparing opponents isn't a valid excuse because the Colts have always talked about having the ability to be successful no matter who's lined up on the other side of the line of scrimmage against them.

"It comes back to execution," Pagano said. "You never discount the opponent, you always give them credit, but again, you have to execute. We have a Jacksonville team that has a bunch of playmakers in their front seven. They have as good a [defensive line] as anybody.

"If you're not communicating and not on the same page, they're going to wreak havoc. You're going to have issues in your backfield. It's everybody being on the same page and doing their job."
INDIANAPOLIS – Will the second time be the charm for Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy when it comes to getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Harrison, Dungy and Edgerrin James are among the 26 semifinalists for the Hall of Fame class of 2015. Former general manager Bill Polian was named as a contributor candidate earlier.

Harrison and Dungy missed out on being elected into the Hall of Fame's 2014 class earlier this year. Harrison had 1,102 receptions, 14,580 yards and 128 receiving touchdowns in his career. Dungy led the Colts to a Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears in 2006 and had a 92-33 record as coach of the team. James is the Colts’ career leader in rushing yards with 9,226.

The 26 Modern Era candidates will be cut to 15 and the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 will be announced Feb. 1 in Glendale, Arizona, site of Super Bowl XLIX.
INDIANAPOLIS -- A receiver/return specialist over a running back?

Cribbs
That’s probably the question many of you asked after hearing the news about the Indianapolis Colts signing former Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Cribbs.

The running back situation is impacted by the signing of Cribbs. Daniel “Boom” Herron, the Colts’ new No. 2 running back with Ahmad Bradshaw out with a fractured fibula, has returned kicks at times this season. The Colts can’t afford to put him back there now considering their lack at depth at running back.

Enter Cribbs.

Griff Whalen, the Colts’ primary return specialist on kicks and punts this season, has been far from impressive.

The Colts are 23rd in the league in punt return average at 7.2 yards per return.

Enter Cribbs, who worked out for the Colts last week.

Cribbs was with the Browns from 2005-12, and he returned 11 kicks -- eight kickoffs and three punts -- for touchdowns during his time there. He played six games with the New York Jets after being released by the Oakland Raiders in 2013.

The Film Don't Lie: Colts

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
11:00
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A weekly look at what the Indianapolis Colts must fix:

The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t the New England Patriots, but they did rush for 105 yards against the Colts in the first meeting between the two teams on Sept. 21. And you can bet that the Jaguars will look to duplicate what the Patriots did to Indianapolis on Sunday night.

The Patriots had no problem running the ball down the Colts’ throats for 244 yards in their 42-20 victory.

Patriots running back Jonas Gray, who rushed for 199 yards and four touchdowns, was successful running toward his guard and tackle on each side. He gained 88 yards on 12 attempts rushing to the right. He had 14 attempts for 66 yards and a touchdown running to the left side. His other three touchdowns came up the middle where he gained 45 yards on 12 attempts.

“That’s tough, that’s tough, it’s hard to beat a team if you can’t stop the run,” safety Mike Adams said. “If you can’t stop the run, it opens up the pass and Tom Brady, like I said before, he was throwing dimes. We have to get better. We have to get better stopping the run. Not just our front seven, everybody. All 11 players, we got to swarm to the ball. We can’t let teams do that to us, we just can’t.”

The Colts’ goal of wanting to improve their run defense, which was 26th in the league last season, started when they signed defensive lineman Arthur Jones in the offseason. Jones has played less than three games because of an ongoing ankle injury.

Jones’ presence is definitely missed. They’ve yet to give up a rushing touchdown, and they’ve allowed only five runs of at least 10 yards when he’s been on the field. The Colts have allowed 12 rushing touchdowns and 33 plays, including six to the Patriots, of at least 10 yards without Jones on the field.
Here’s Tuesday’s Reading the Coverage:

Conrad Brunner of 1070thefan.com raises a question: With Ahmad Bradshaw out, should the Colts pursue former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice?

Stephen Holder of the Indy Star gives his “Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down” from the Colts’ loss to New England. Something tells me the defense is on the “Thumbs Down” list. It’s just a hunch.

Mike Chappell of RTV6.com says the Colts will miss running back Ahmad Bradshaw’s energy and passion. “To see a brother go down, especially a guy I’ve been around all day, every day, that’s tough. It’s real tough,” running back Trent Richardson said. “It’s heartbreaking to see a guy like that go down.Whenever he can get ready to come back, if he can do it this year or next year or whatever it is, it’s going to be open arms for him.”

Kevin Bowen of Colts.com highlights a few topics from Monday’s media session at the team’s facility. One of the areas Bowen touched on was receiver T.Y. Hilton being doubled teamed by the Patriots. “Obviously, we didn’t do a good enough job of getting points on the board and they had a great plan, but I think a key to it is staying patient,” quarterback Andrew Luck. “We realize there’s a bunch of guys that can make plays. If you focus on one guy too much, then someone else is going to step up, and I thought some guys really did step up and play well.”

 
INDIANAPOLIS -- Not all the news is bad from a medical standpoint for the Indianapolis Colts. While running back Ahmad Bradshaw's season is in serious doubt because of a fractured fibula, tight end Dwayne Allen's ankle injury doesn't appear to be as severe as originally thought.

Allen
Allen's goal is to be in the lineup when the Colts host the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, but the low ankle sprain could end up keeping him out the lineup at least one game.

That's not too bad when it seemed like the injury was more severe.

"It shouldn't be anything too serious," Allen said. "So get some rehab, get some ice on it, see how it feels. I feel like I'm day-to-day."

Allen became injured when center Jonotthan Harrison accidentally landed on his teammate's ankle after Allen got pushed to the ground by New England's Rob Ninkovich in the second quarter of Sunday's loss to the Patriots.

"It comes with the game," Allen said. "We know every time we step on the field that there's a chance of us getting injured. You never want it to happen, but it happens. I embraced it. I love what I do, I love the game that I play and I'm going to continue to prepare and play the way that I play."

Fellow tight end Coby Fleener had seven catches for a career-high 144 yards against New England, but the Colts can't afford to be without Allen for an extended period of time because he's their most-versatile player at that position. Allen has 26 receptions for 374 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
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INDIANAPOLIS -- It's now or never for Trent Richardson.

It truly is.

No more of the Indianapolis Colts' running back needing to learn the playbook or get comfortable with the rest of the offensive unit.

Simply no more excuses.

With Ahmad Bradshaw's season in doubt because of a fractured fibula, the Colts' running game falls strictly on Richardson's broad shoulders. Bradshaw is getting further evaluations before he and the Colts decide what course of action to take next. Daniel "Boom" Herron will back up Richardson.

"It's tough," quarterback Andrew Luck said about the loss of Bradshaw. "A great teammate, a great player, but it's a part of football and we know no one is going to feel sorry for the Colts. We certainly don't feel sorry for ourselves. Unfortunate or not, it's a theme of football and we have to make it work."

Richardson will get the majority of the snaps in the backfield, so here's another opportunity for him to try to help general manager Ryan Grigson look better for trading for him in September 2013. So far, the trade has not paid off for the Colts. Richardson has yet to to rush for 100 yards in a game since being acquired.

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsTrent Richardson has rushed for an average of 3.4 yards per carry this season, but he'll need to step it up in the wake of Ahmad Bradshaw's recent injury.
If Sunday's performance against the New England Patriots was any indication, there's every reason to be worried on whether Richardson is capable of being the Colts' workhorse in the backfield. He had seven rush attempts and finished with zero, yes, zero yards.

"It's going to be what it is," Richardson said after the game. "Will it be bigger shoes for me to fill? Of course. I have to make sure I step up and do what I have to do."

The Colts once had a balanced attack on offense, but things have changed in recent weeks. They rushed for a season-low 19 yards on 17 attempts against the Patriots and haven't had a 100-yard rushing game as a team since running for 171 against Cincinnati on Oct. 19.

"[The running backs and offensive line] all go hand in and hand and they all work together," coach Chuck Pagano said. "...The line has to do their jobs and the backs have to do their job. If everybody is not on the same page and everybody is not doing their job on a consistent basis ... it falls on everybody."

Richardson not only has to produce running the ball, but he also has to be a pass-catching running back. Bradshaw has 38 catches for 300 yards and six receiving touchdowns. Richardson has 22 receptions for 203 yards and no touchdowns.

Here's further proof of what the Colts will miss without Bradshaw. They've run 135 plays on third down this season, Bradshaw was on the field for 114 of those plays.

And Richardson?

Only nine plays.

"He's a warrior, he loves football," Pagano said about Bradshaw. "He loves his teammates. He loves the shoe. He loves competing. We're going to miss his energy, his passion, everything he brings to the table during the week, during preparation and certainly on game day. Hate to see it."

Now it's time for Richardson to be that warrior.
Colts defensive tackle Art Jones will miss his seventh game this season because of a high ankle sprain, coach Chuck Pagano said Friday.

Jones originally injured his ankle against Philadelphia in Week 2. He returned against Pittsburgh on Oct. 25 only to re-injure the same ankle. Ricky Jean Francois will continue to start in Jones’ place.

Right tackle Gosder Cherilus will play after his status was question earlier this week because he missed some practice time.

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