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Mental Preparation Key As Colts Face Short Week

Posted Dec 11, 2017

Intro: Fresh off a grueling game in the snow in Buffalo, the Indianapolis Colts immediately turn their focus to Thursday night’s matchup against the Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium. What all did we learn on the day? Let’s check today’s Daily Notebook, brought to you by ATI Physical Therapy.

INDIANAPOLIS — Frank Gore gave everything he had, chopping and sliding and slopping his way through 36 grueling carries — the most the future Pro Football Hall of Fame running back has ever had in one game — as the Indianapolis Colts worked their way through the heavy Western New York snow storm.

When the team finally got to the airport after its exhausting 13-7 overtime loss to the Bills in their otherwise entertaining game worthy of the nickname “The Blizzard in Buffalo,” quarterback Jacoby Brissett sat down on the plane and echoed the sentiments of every player boarding the aircraft.

Well — almost every player, that is.

“I remember we were on the plane talking and I was like, ‘Man, I’m kind of tired,’” Brissett recalled on Monday with a smile. “Frank said, ‘What? You’re tired?’ He was like, ‘No, you’re out of shape.’”

Brissett said the Colts are taking their 34-year-old leader’s attitude to heart this week, as they face an extremely short turnaround before playing host to the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football.

Any four-day turnaround is tough in the NFL, but coming off such a unique game in Buffalo — Colts head coach Chuck Pagano likened the playing conditions, despite the best efforts of the field crew, to trying to run through quick sand for four-plus quarters — those in Indianapolis could’ve probably used a day or two to rest and recover.

But that, of course, is not the reality, and many teams — including the Colts’ opponent on Thursday — have to experience playing on short rest at least once a season.

So that’s why the Colts (3-10) found themselves back out on the practice field on Monday, putting in their initial preparations for the Broncos (4-9), who blanked the New York Jets, 23-0, on Sunday. And, perhaps to no one’s surprise, Gore was out there, too; a full participant one day after the busiest afternoon of his 13-year NFL career.

“You can’t really explode or anything, so you had to really feel your way through things, work your way as you go to build up speed,” Gore said when asked how he was feeling after such a tough game. “So you can’t just when you see the hole, I couldn’t really just go get it. So, I think that’s why I kind of feel OK.

“I try not to let people get clean shots.”

The Colts had a light practice on Monday, going without their pads or their helmets. That light approach will be a theme this week, Pagano said, as being mentally prepared for Thursday’s game becomes the priority.

“They’re going to have to do a ton of film work and a ton of walkthrough and try to do the best that they can to get their bodies right by Thursday night at 8:30,” Pagano said Monday on his weekly appearance on 1070 The Fan’s “Colts Roundtable Live.” “A ton of rest and getting off their feet and cold tub and the hot tub and pre-practice … stretching and all that stuff they’ll do with our trainers and our strength coaches to get their bodies right.”

From a coaching perspective, Pagano said “this is one of those weeks where you put the time in from a mental standpoint; simplify the game plans.”

“You don’t have a lot of time to sit there and try to out-think and out-scheme everybody,” he said. “Get some simple plans that these guys can get down and make sure that the lion’s share, the majority, of their time is spent looking at Denver, looking at their offense, their defense, their special teams; studying the guy they’re going to go against, learning his strengths and weaknesses; and then getting your body as fresh as you can.”

INJURY REPORT
Here’s Monday’s full injury report:

• DNP:
Cornerback Rashaan Melvin (hand); wide receiver Donte Moncrief (ankle).

• Limited: Tight end Darrell Daniels (hamstring).

• Full: Defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway (hamstring), center Ryan Kelly (concussion); quarterback Jacoby Brissett (quad); running back Frank Gore (hand).

— Pagano said Moncrief, who suffered an ankle injury towards the end of the Colts’ Week 13 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and missed the Bills game, is “week-to-week.” Melvin, meanwhile, has a cast on his hand is “trying to work through it,” though his status for Thursday’s game is unknown at this point. The injury has kept the Colts’ top cornerback out of the lineup the last two games.

— Kelly, a full participant in Monday’s practice, was not able to be cleared out of the league’s concussion protocol late last week and missed his second straight game on Sunday. Pagano said the hope is Kelly will be cleared by an independent league neurologist Wednesday and can play against the Broncos; veteran Mike Person got the start at center against the Jaguars, while first-year Harvard product Anthony Fabiano started in Kelly’s place against the Bills.

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