INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts have been unbeatable (11-0) in games under Chuck Pagano when attempting more than 30 runs, and they have been 6-1 in games this year when getting 100 rushing yards.
Indianapolis now faces the NFL’s second-ranked rushing defense at Arizona. With a 81.4 yards per game average, Pagano was asked if this is the most talented defense he has seen this season.
“You could argue that, they’re really good front-to-back,” said Pagano. “They’re ninth in total defense, second against the run, pretty impressive.”
Arizona is allowing only 45 yards per game in their three-game winning streak and after limiting Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew to 23 yards last Sunday, the Cardinals have held seven opponents’ top rusher below 60 this year.
“It starts with me,” said Hamilton. “I got to do a better job of putting our guys in positions to make plays on third downs and we know that our guys will go out and execute. We got to do a better job of just converting third downs early in games.”
Richardson should be ready to go Sunday despite a calf injury, and he will maintain the lead role in the ground attack though Brown is sporting a team-high 5.9 average on 55 attempts.
“We don’t plan on changing our rotation with our backs,” said Hamilton. “We’ve always been a running back by committee bunch, so we’re going to continue to do that.”
“They’re very stout,” said
TOLER OUT –
Pagano says there are no long-term concerns for his return, and he wants to see the club’s pass defense play at a higher level seen earlier in the season.
After giving up nine scoring passes in the last four games (four exceeding 30 yards), Arizona is likely to take its shots.
“We just have to get back to playing like we played early in the season,” said Pagano. “You have to challenge guys, and communication has to be there, fundamentals, techniques.
“It doesn’t help when you have guys out. We know what we face come Sunday. We’re going to get challenged. They’re doing to throw it downfield and throw it to guys who can make plays. They have guys who can beat you.”
“Even more so with Coach (Arians) being here last year,” said Landry if he expects a vigorous challenge. “I wasn’t here, but he’s probably familiar with the defense. He probably went after them (in practice) all year. He probably knows the defense inside and out.
“They have a lot of weapons. I think we’re going to get tested. We can’t give up any big plays and have to be sound.”
PRACTICE REPORT – Did not participate: FB-
Conner rolled an ankle on Thursday. On Richardson, Pagano said, “He was dealing with a calf that he’s had the last couple of weeks and aggravated it. We held him back the last couple of days.”
With Havili out, four tight ends could absorb the fullback duties. Pagano has not decided if RB-
“For a guy who has been out for the amount of time he’s been out, he’s really been amazing. He’s a great athlete, tremendous quickness, acceleration, football instincts,” said Pagano.
Rainey, who has returned kicks, was a fifth-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2012, but has been inactive all season.
INJURY REPORT – Out: Conner, Havili, Toler; Questionable: Gordy, Landry, Richardson. Probable: Herron, Heyward-Bey, Howell.