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Divisional Round Notebook: Wednesday Edition

Posted Jan 8, 2014

Intro: Throughout the course of the playoffs, Colts.com will publish daily notebooks addressing some key points heading into that week’s contest. Today’s notebook looks at the Colts ability to get to Tom Brady, the young receivers getting insight from Deion Branch and the hostile environment awaiting Indianapolis on Saturday night.



Will The Colts Pass Rush Get To Tom Brady?— Tom Brady is having another Pro Bowl season yet there’s one glaring stat on his 2013 resume that isn’t “Hawaii” worthy and it’s not all No. 12’s fault.

Since becoming a full-time starter in 2002, Brady’s 40 sacks in 2013 is the most in a decade.

Combine that number with the Colts having 14 sacks of their own the last four weeks, and keeping Brady upright will be of importance for New England this weekend.

Brady alluded to this point on a conference call earlier this week with the Indianapolis media.

The future Hall of Famer called the Colts defense an “aggressive group” with a “big blitz percentage”.

Of course, Brady will have a keen eye on No. 98 this weekend.

“You try to put guys around him and double team him, but he still seems to be making all the plays,” Brady said of Robert Mathis.

“I just know I don’t have a lot of time back there in the pocket to sort things out. We got to try and get the ball to our guys as quickly as we can so he’s not ruining the game.”

One player that the Colts have found to be disruptive in opposing backfields lately is inside linebacker Josh McNary.

Since being called up from the practice squad late in the year, McNary has shown off pass rushing skills that led him to become Army’s all-time sack leader.

McNary was an outside linebacker/defensive end in college but he has thrived in blitzing situations from the inside linebacker spot at this level.

“It’s a little bit easier on the inside because you got so many extra bodies in there kind of occupying some of the linemen,” McNary says. It’s easier to disguise some of your intentions where as on the edge, it’s already kind of predetermined where you are heading.”

“I’d say rushing inside, in a designed blitz, is a heck of a lot easier than a one-on-one fight then a tackle that’s already knowing what you’re trying to do.”

Young Receivers Listen To Deion BranchDa’Rick Rogers sat back in his meeting room chair and couldn’t believe who he was sharing the room with.

In front of him was a Super Bowl MVP in Deion Branch and a “first ballot” Hall of Famer in Reggie Wayne.

Not to mention his quarterback is Andrew Luck.

“This is amazing that I’m apart of this,” Rogers said on Wednesday.

Rogers is a part of a young receiver group that heads into the Divisional Round of the Playoffs with another veteran in their meeting room.

Branch brings 128 games (17 postseason) of NFL experience to a Colts receivers room that is anxious to learn from a guy who played seven seasons with the New England Patriots.

“Without a doubt, he’s a very smart guy,” T.Y. Hilton said. “He’s been helping us breakdown the film, telling us what they like to do, breaking down their DBs. He’s really helped us out and has pretty much told me I’m going to have deal with (Aqib) Talib.”

While Branch said the Colts scouting department already had the “ins and out” of the Patriots defense down before he got here, the Indianapolis receivers are still all ears when Branch is talking.

“It’s just telling us about the DBs that they have, the direction that he thinks the defense is going,” Rogers said of Branch. “Plus he’s a vet. So beyond the game this week, he has helped me out a lot career wise.”

Playoff Atmosphere Awaits Colts—A night game, in Foxborough, in January.

For an AFC team to reach the goal of playing in the Super Bowl, the path mentioned above has had to be passed in virtually ever season over the past decade.

Colts gunner Sergio Brown spent his first two NFL seasons with the Patriots including a run to the 2012 Super Bowl.

Brown knows exactly what the Colts are going to be facing come 8:15 p.m. on Saturday night.

“It’s going to be real electric,” Brown said. “Playoff game in Foxborough, a little cold, that’s the definition of playoff football.”

Come Saturday night, the Colts will certainly be looking to take away a hostile Gillette Stadium crowd.

Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton talked on Wednesday about the communication issues that can hinder an up-tempo style in such an environment.

That could mean an added emphasis on the Colts rushing attack, which will be going up against a rush defense that ranks 30th in the NFL.

“We want to establish the run and establish it early,” Donald Brown said. “It helps 12 and the rest of the wide receivers, plus it gets the crowd out of the game too especially if we can get some big plays in early. That’s the plan.”

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