Manning Says Colts Will Approach Houston Game as Any Other
INDIANAPOLIS – Without question, Peyton Manning said this is an imant week.
Manning, in his 13th season as the Colts' quarterback, said without question the Colts were focused Thursday as they began preparing to play on Monday Night Football next Monday.
And without question, it's a big game.
But Manning said while that's true, what's also true is this:
It's important . . .
Just not any more so than usual.
"It's a big game because it's the next one," Manning said Thursday as the Colts (4-2) prepared to play the Houston Texans (4-2) in an AFC South game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday at 8:30 p.m.
"It's a home game, a division game. They're a team that beat us last time, so certainly there are lots of reasons. I feel like we treat them all with the same respect."
The Colts, who have won six of the last seven AFC South titles, have won four of their last five games following a season-opening loss, with that season-opening loss coming to the Texans – 34-24 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
The Colts, who haven't been swept in a season series by a division opponent since 2002, have a 38-12 record in the South since its 2002 inception, and during that span never have finished more than a game out of first place in the division. They are 0-2 in the division this season, with their other loss coming at Jacksonville in Week 4.
Indianapolis and Houston, each of which was off last week, enter Week 8 tied for second place in the South, a half-game behind Tennessee.
"The number one goal at the end of the day is always to win our division," Colts middle linebacker Gary Brackett said. "In order to do that, we have to beat Houston. We definitely don't want to go three games behind in the division with those guys. At the end of the day, this is a huge game for us for that reason alone, but not only that, you just want to continue to win."
The Colts also enter a game for the first time this season without tight end Dallas Clark.
Clark, a Pro Bowl selection last season, caught 37 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns this season, but he sustained a wrist injury in a 27-24 victory over the Washington Redskins in Week 6. He has been placed on injured reserve and is out for the season.
"We're going to have to adjust on the run," Caldwell said.
"It will be interesting," Manning said. "There's definitely some unknown there. We'll have some groupings in there that we've never had before. Dallas is a guy who never left the field. There will be some (new) people who are in there – whether it's Jacob Tamme, Brody Eldridge, one of the receivers.
"They give us some options, but Dallas is a guy we couldn't take off the field. Now, we're going to have to mix it up a bit more. I'm sure most defenses will say, 'We're happy about it,' but it does make them think a little bit about what they're going to do."
The Colts this week also have announced that wide receiver Austin Collie will miss Sunday's game after undergoing thumb surgery last week.
"It's obviously a lot at the same time," Manning said. "I think our biggest challenge is having good practices. You have some guys who are injured and not playing and some guys who are injured who are going to play. How effective can we be at practice – that's something we've always taken a lot of pride in, is practicing well. I think we can do it, but we're going to have to work extra hard and find ways to have quality practices, so when you go out there on Monday you're ready to play."
Manning said the reality is injuries aren't something on which the Colts spend much time or effort.
"The old saying is true: 'When someone's injured, it's an opportunity for somebody else,' Manning said. "It's a chance for some new guys to step up, and some guys who haven't played in some time – (wide receiver) Anthony Gonzalez, (running back) Javarris James, (tight end) Gijon Robinson. These are great opportunities for these guys.
"I understand injuries are a hot topic, and kind of a buzzword. But it's not something we really talk a whole lot about. All we can do is play with the guys who are cleared to play. You still have the same expectation. You may have to have some adjustments. To sit here and say there's not an adjustment without Dallas Clark, you just can't say that. He's too great of a player. Does it have an effect? Absolutely.
"But you still have to go find a way to win a game and find a way to beat a really good team."
The key to doing that, Manning said, is preparing the same whatever the circumstance.
"All of them are must wins," Manning said. "That's what we try to do. We don't put any more emphasis on any games than others, because that would mean you're not preparing for all of them as you should. We're extremely focused on having a good week of practice.
"Practice is a challenge because of the numbers we have available. We're going to do everything we can to try to win the game."
Caldwell on Wednesday also addressed:
*Who will hold for placements Monday with punter Pat McAfee serving a one-game suspension. Caldwell said newly-signed punter Jeremy Kapinos is an option, as are tight end Jacob Tamme and reserve quarterback Curtis Painter. "They've been working on it, obviously, here, since last week," Caldwell said.
*Kickoff duties being handled by kicker Adam Vinatieri. "He's a guy who can do both," Caldwell said.
*Running back Joseph Addai, who did not practice Thursday because of a neck injury: "He's a guy whose tolerance of pain is unusual. He's one of those guys who can turn it around at a moment's notice and he's up and ready to go. It's a day-to-day situation. If he doesn't go, obviously Mike Hart's a guy who has to step it a little bit, and Javarris James may have to carry a few duties as well."