Available Corners Will Perform Well, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts have been here before.
And Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said Friday while the circumstances at the cornerback position this week aren't easy, other positions have faced difficult scenarios before – in seasons past, and this season.
Starter Marlin Jackson was placed on injured reserve Thursday, and starter Kelvin Hayden – who has missed the last three games – missed practice Thursday, as did reserve Dante Hughes.
It's a tough situation, Dungy said Friday.
But he said it's not one the Colts can't overcome.
"Whatever gives you the best chance," Dungy said as the Colts (3-4) prepared to play the AFC East-leading New England Patriots (5-2) at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday at 8:15 p.m.
"We've done it with the offensive line. We've done it in a lot of places. That's what it has to be. We'll see what the best group is and whoever plays in there will do a good job."
With Jackson – a starter in the last 23 games – out for the season with a knee injury, reserve Tim Jennings will start at one corner Sunday, Dungy said this week, with Hayden starting at the other if he is healthy.
Hughes, a second-year veteran, has played extensively as the third corner at times this season, and the Colts recently re-signed Nick Graham and Keiwan Ratliff.
Ratliff, a former second-round draft selection by Cincinnati, has been on the roster this season and last season. Graham was on the roster earlier this season before being released.
Dungy said the team has worked several players at the inside cornerback position – which is typically on the field covering the opponent's "slot" receiver.
"We've worked a lot of guys in there," Dungy said. "It seems like a different guy every day as we're trying to rest some of our guys. We'll probably have a better idea after today's practice.
"We've worked a lot of guys in there just seeing what our best combination will be."
Said Bethea, "It's tough, being in the situation we're in, with Marlin going down. The next man in line has to step up and do the job. Everybody has to rally to the occasion. New England isn't going to feel sorry for us, so the next man has to step up and we have to get the job done. It's the NFL."
Dungy said while the situation is not ideal, the Colts need look no further than their opponent Sunday to know it needn't be disastrous.
"I told the team today that one of the things I admire about New England is what they do when they get in a situation like that," Dungy said. "We were as hot as you could be in (the 2004 AFC Divisional Playoff game) and they had everybody hurt. (Wide receiver) Troy Brown played in there (at defensive back) and they beat us."
Also on Friday, the Colts released their third and final injury reof the week, with running back Clifton Dawson (concussion), Hughes (ankle), linebacker Freddy Keiaho (knee), running back Dominic Rhodes (ankle), tight end Tom Santi (shoulder), wide receiver Reggie Wayne (knee), Hayden (knee/hamstring), running back Joseph Addai (hamstring) and safety Bob Sanders (knee/ankle) listed as questionable and wide receiver Roy Hall (knee) listed as out.
Dawson, Hall, Santi and Hughes did not participate in practice Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and Keiaho did not practice Thursday or Friday. Rhodes practiced Thursday and Friday.
Wayne, who missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, has started 88 consecutive games, the longest active streak among NFL wide receivers. He practiced on a limited basis Friday.
"Reggie has not missed very much practice time in the seven years I've been here," Dungy said. "That was a little unusual, but he says he thinks he'll be able to go. He's a guy who has lined up for us just about every week. I think had we had a normal work week he probably would have practiced on Thursday after a Sunday game and would have just taken one day off.
"With the kind of rushed week, it was better to rest him both days."