Colts Prepare for Oakland After Placing Collie on Injured Reserve
INDIANAPOLIS – The time has long since passed for worrying.
As Colts quarterback Peyton Manning sees it, although the Colts lost another significant offensive player for the season Wednesday – and while losing wide receiver Austin Collie was indeed difficult – there's no sense in spending time worrying about it.
That's because there's nothing to be gained.
So, while the Colts indeed placed the second-year wide receiver on injured reserve with a concussion Wednesday, Manning said the focus this week remains on the task at hand. That task:
The Oakland Raiders.
"Certainly, it's going to have an impact," Manning said as the AFC South-leading Colts (8-6) prepared to play the Raiders (7-7) at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., Sunday at 4:05 p.m.
"Where that biggest impact is? It's hard to say, especially here in the second-to-last week of the season. It doesn't do you any good to think about who's not playing and who's not going to be available. You have to go with who's available, and we feel like with who's available, we can go out there and make some things happen.
"It's going to be a real challenge."
The Colts, the AFC South champions six of the last seven seasons, enter the final two weeks of the regular season in a first-place tie with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South. The Colts will win the division if they win their final two games because they hold a tiebreaker advantage over the Jaguars.
If the teams finish tied at 10-6, the Colts will win the South because of a better record against common opponents.
The Colts, who have won back-to-back games after a three-game losing streak, have made the post-season each of the last eight seasons, the longest such active streak in the NFL.
Indianapolis will close the regular-season at home against Tennessee next week, but the focus Wednesday primarily was on preparing for a Raiders team that has improved significantly this season.
"It's the same type of approach," Manning said. "You have to have a real sense of urgency in the way you prepare for this game. I think this game is going to be a great physical challenge. Every time you're playing in the NFL against a defense it's a mental challenge.
"This is a physical group all the way across the board on defense, and I'm sure they are on offense as well. That will really be a challenge.
"You have to get ready to regroup, and reload and get ready to play again."
The Raiders, after not making the playoffs from 2002-09, have played their way into contention this season with one of the NFL's top running offenses and an improving defense.
Darren McFadden, the Raiders' third-year running back, has rushed for 1,112 yards and seven touchdowns this season while averaging 5.2 yards per carries, and the Raiders rank second in the NFL in rushing. They rank 11th in the NFL and have won five of seven games at home this season.
"It's a tough place to play," Manning said. "It will be a tough challenge, but we have to answer the bell."
Manning called the Raiders' defense "a classic Oakland Raiders defense."
"You see a lot of speed and a lot of size," he said. 'They're playing with a lot of momentum."
The Colts, after entering the game ranked 32nd in the NFL in rushing offense and 28th against the run, out-rushed the Jaguars, 155-67, this past week, holding Maurice-Jones-Drew to 46 yards on 15 carries. Colts second-year running back Donald Brown rushed for a career-high 129 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, and Manning said that sort of offensive balance remains an objective.
"We'd sure like for it to be," Manning said. "That's been our goal every single Sunday, trying to have some kind of balance. You never know what type of game is going to occur. We know we'll have to score some points, because their offense is very explosive."
Collie, a second-year veteran, sustained a concussion this past week against Jacksonville. He had missed four of the past five games with a concussion.
"He certainly is a guy that will be missed, but from a medical standpoint we are concerned more about his health than anything else, and this is the right thing for him at this particular time," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said.
Said Manning, "I'm obviously disappointed for him. I know hard he has worked all off-season, and I know how excited he was to be back the other day, and how well he was playing. It's one of the worst parts about football, when you see guys get injured and put on injured reserve – especially a guy who loves football as much as he does – and how much he wants to be out there.
"We just wish him a quick recovery."
Blair White, who likely will fill aion of Collie's role in the offense, caught one pass for 16 yards this past Sunday against Jacksonville and has 30 receptions for 284 yards and four touchdowns this season. With Collie out the rest of the season, Manning said the rookie free agent's role will remain critical.
"Blair White has done an outstanding job all year, every time he has been called upon," Manning said. "Somebody else has to step up. You never know who it might be. You never know who's number might be called – depending on the situation or the down and distance.
"Blair will fill into that spot for Austin, and I know he'll do a good job."