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Colts Wild Card Notebook: Tuesday Edition

Posted Dec 31, 2013

Intro: Through out the course of the playoffs, Colts.com will publish daily notebook addressing some key points heading into that week’s contest. Today’s notebook looks at the health at the corner position, the interior of the Colts offensive line and young receivers emerging.



Cornerback Position Thin at Practice— Vontae Davis, Greg Toler and Darius Butler did not have their helmets with them during the media portion of Tuesday’s practice or in Davis’ case, not in attendance during the 30-minute viewing.

Toler and Butler missed various practice time last week but both played in Sunday’s regular season finale win against the Jaguars.

In trying to recover from a groin injury, Toler played 19 snaps last week (up from seven against Kansas City on Dec. 23).

“I feel pretty good,” Toler says of where his groin is after two games.

“We did a good job before the game just strengthening it and I felt confident going out there. After the reps that I did get, I felt pretty good.”

Davis is also dealing with his own groin injury which he suffered on Sunday. Pagano listed Davis as day-to-day on Monday.

The good news for the Colts is that Kansas City ranked just 24th in passing yards per game this season, last of the six AFC playoff teams.

Also, with the first day of practice bumped up to Tuesday this week due to a Saturday game, the injury report later in the week will serve as a better indication of who might be out there this weekend.

Back on Dec. 23, the Colts secondary held Alex Smith to his lowest quarterback rating of the season.

Having Toler expand his role would only add to a secondary playing some of its best football of the year at the ideal time.

“We are going in the right direction and if I’m asked to play more plays, I can do that,” Toler says.

 

Who Lines up in the Interior of Offensive Line?— The amount of healthy offensive linemen at Colts practice Tuesday was a sight that hasn’t been seen in weeks.

Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus have played every meaningful snap at the offensive tackle spots this season.

The question now remains what the Colts do on the interior of the unit.

Over the last four weeks Jeff Linkenbach, Mike McGlynn, Xaiver Nixon, Joe Reitz and Hugh Thornton have occupied the guard spots at various times in the starting lineup.

At center, both McGlynn and Samson Satele have started games.

Even with all the different bodies, the line has allowed just three sacks in Andrew Luck’s last 152 pass attempts.

“It just tells everybody that we are getting better,” Thornton says of the unit.

“The longer the season is, the more the season goes on, now we are in the playoffs and we are just continuing to get better. We are going to continue to practice hard, get better and play to the best of our ability Saturday."

How does Pagano see the line working itself out come Saturday?

“Probably like solving the Rubik’s Cube,” Pagano joked earlier this week. “It’s great to have all those guys available and guys have done a great job filling in for when guys have been out. It’ll be great to have everybody available.”

“We’ll put the best five out there that we feel give us the best chance to win the football game.”

Young Wide Receivers Ready for Spotlight—Heading into the final quarter of the season, T.Y. Hilton and the Colts offense needed some help at the receiver position.

They’ve gotten just that from a trio of young receivers.

There’s LaVon Brazill (four receptions for 64 yards and two touchdowns) who made some impressive individual efforts in Cincinnati after showing flashes in 2012.

Da’Rick Rogers (14 catches for 192 yards and two touchdowns) was brilliant against the Bengals and has seen ample reps over the past four weeks.

Then there’s Griff Whalen (15 catches for 157 yards and two touchdowns) who has shown not only to be a sure-handed threat but also the ability to create yards after catch.

“We’ve each made some plays and we know that we can,” Whalen says of the young receivers. “Pep Hamilton and Andrew (Luck) know that we can too so it’s important for everyone just to have that confidence in everybody.”

These three receivers bring just one game of postseason experience with them into this weekend but are anxious to try and make up for the loss of their leader.

“With Reggie Wayne going down, and going through our growing pains of having a young corps, we have to be there for Andrew to have that trust and faith in us to not only throw us the ball but for the coaches to call the plays to throw us the ball,” Rogers says.

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