INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano has pushed an impressive number of correct buttons in leading his Colts to 19 wins in 28 games.
His 29th game will be a Sunday outing at Cincinnati where in possibly inclement conditions he will be trying to earn another division title for the franchise.
Bettering the chances of winning meant three straight days of practicing outdoors as the Colts prepared almost as much for the elements as they did the Bengals.
“The elements, it is what it is, said Pagano. “You have to get outside and play in it. You can be in the confines of the indoor (facility) with the heater on, but that ain’t how it’s going to be.
“To just throw them out there Sunday to warm up and kickoff, it wouldn’t be fair to any of us. We had great practices. We just have to transfer (it) to Sunday.”
Louisiana native and Arizona resident
“I feel good to go out no matter the weather. It’s an attitude,” said Landry. “We have a lot at stake and we’re looking forward to the game.
“Most definitely (the weather can impact a game). Any different condition plays a major factor. You can’t over-pursue a ball. We had to get adjusted and acclimated to it. It’s probably going to be snowing, so it (practicing outdoors) was a necessity.”
The Colts could be playing their first game in snow since the end of the 2009 season, and only six players remain from that game.
Pagano prepared Luck and 52 others to be ready and chief about being ready is eliminating giveaways.
“From a ball security standpoint, that’s what we’ve stressed all week long,” said Pagano. “That’s why we got outside all week long. If it’s sleeting sideways and 30 degrees, 20 degrees, it really comes down to ball security, taking care of it.
“It makes throwing the ball maybe a little difficult, too. You’d better pack a good run game.”
Indianapolis ran the ball well late in beating Tennessee last week. It was the same type of ground performance that led to early-season wins.
Pagano agrees with Pep Hamilton who yesterday said the team is built to run well late in games and late in the season.
“Absolutely, we just have to do it the whole game,” said Pagano. “We’ve shown that we’re more than capable of running the football, especially when we had to run the football. We did it last week.
“To win meaningful games, win games in December against really good defenses, win these types of games, you have to be able to run the football. There’s no doubt in my mind. We have to execute, get on the right guys and knock them off the line of scrimmage.”
The Colts will be trying to thwart a Cincinnati ground attack that has prospered and has helped the team win six of its last eight, while losing four games by a total of only 19 points.
Indianapolis kept Tennessee at bay by producing a season-high four takeaway. Landry wants the same recipe Sunday.
“Our staff drills us on getting turnovers,” said Landry. “The majority rules – you win the turnover battle predominantly you win the game.
“It’s important we get the turnovers. The defense feeds off big sacks, big hits, turnovers, three-and-outs. It’s an attitude. You get everybody to buy in with the momentum. They start coming in bunches.”
PRACTICE REPORT – Did not participate: LB-
Pagano would not indicate who the starting guards would be Sunday. Linkenbach started at right guard last week for
Toler, who has missed the last five games, has a chance to go at Cincinnati. He was limited in three practices this week, but Pagano sees the possibility of colder temperatures playing a factor with Toler.
“I think with all the guys, especially with those coming off of injuries, you have a period of time where you’re out there playing and come off (the field and) you’re sitting around,” said Pagano. “If he happens to make it up at all, it certainly plays a little bit of a factor. If he’s 100 percent, he should be fine.”
INJURY REPORT – Out: Linkenbach, Jean Francois; Questionable: Conner, Thornton, Toler; Probable: Brown, Gordy, Hilton, Mathis.