Colts Want a More Consistent Performance in Third Preseason Game
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The way Dallas Clark sees it, the objective is clear.
The Colts, who broke 2008 Training Camp Friday morning after three weeks at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, will play the Atlanta Falcons in a preseason game Saturday.
The Colts want to win.
And they want to see improvement from this past Saturday's loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Mostly, Clark – the Colts' sixth-year veteran tight end – said what the Colts want was best exemplified in the words of Head Coach Tony Dungy after a practice this week.
"I think Coach said it best – more consistency in all three phases of the game," Clark said as the Colts (0-2 in the preseason) prepared to play the Falcons (0-1) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
"It has been two-and-half weeks of camp and that's what we need to start seeing this time of year, I think. We've got the whole offense. We've repped everything once. We have the foundation. Now, we have to build it and make it strong.
"That starts with more consistency."
The Colts, the five-time defending AFC South Champion, have started four of the past seasons with records of 5-0 or better, including each of the past five seasons.
But in the preseason, Dungy said the Colts haven't won as consistently as would be ideal.
Since Dungy's 2002 arrival, the Colts have a preseason record of 9-18, including 2-13 the past three seasons.
"We haven't won nearly as many preseason games as I would like to," Dungy said. "A lot of people think, 'Oh, you don't care about winning.' I think it's always imant to win, but more than that, you are looking for different things.
"You're looking for how young guys that you're going to count on – how they play, and then you're looking for new young guys to step in and do well in certain situations."
The Colts lost their preseason opener this season, 30-16, to the Washington Redskins, then lost in overtime to Carolina, 23-20, this past Saturday. Dungy said earlier this week that while the starting units played well in the opener, the first-team offense and defense wasn't as consistent against Carolina.
"We didn't play well last week, so I'm looking for that group to play a little more, play better, and play more like we did the first week and really work on developing that consistency," Dungy said. "The thing about the preseason is a lot of times the winning and losing depends on how your second and third group play. They're playing the majority of the game.
"It tells you a little about your depth and what you're getting out of those units. You can't always read into the score. You want to see how the flow of the game is and how you're doing compared to the other guys you're playing whether it's your first group or your third group."
The Colts have fallen behind early in each of their first two preseason games, with Washington taking an early 7-0 lead and Carolina taking a 14-0 lead by turning two Colts turnovers into short touchdown drives.
"We want to look together when we go out there as a first unit," Colts defensive end Raheem Brock said. "We still don't have everyone healthy, but that's no excuse. We still should look good the first couple of plays."
Cornerback Kelvin Hayden said after allowing three touchdowns in a little less than two quarters, the first-team defense's goal Saturday is to "be sharp."
"It would be good to get a three-and-out," Hayden said. "We've come out these first two games and we've given up seven points fast. You just want to be sharp, play fast, play physical and play our game. Hopefully, we can get that done."
Offensively, quarterback Jim Sorgi – who will make his third consecutive preseason start in place of quarterback Peyton Manning – said the Colts are looking for a "a better start than we had against Carolina."
Sorgi lost a fumble on the Colts' first drive against Carolina and had a pass deflected that was intercepted on the second drive. On the team's third possession, Sorgi led the first-team offense on its second field-goal drive in as many games.
"That'd be nice," Sorgi said. "I was proud of the way we handled Carolina. We came out, had a rough first four plays, then we put a solid drive together. We came back and handled the pressure. I think if we had played a little longer, we would have done better. We were finally getting a grasp of what they're doing.
"Atlanta, we have a little bit more of a feel for what they're going to do. I think we'll get a little more time this weekend and it's time to get a rhythm. It's time to get a couple of solid drives going. It's time to put the ball in the end zone and get to celebrate a little.
"That's what I'm looking for."
Sorgi, with Manning recovering from surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee, has started two preseason games, completing 13 of 19 passes for 131 yards and an interception with no touchdowns.
"These games are all important to me," Sorgi said. "Last year and the year before, I haven't taken many snaps. These are my snaps right now. These are the ones I have to take advantage of. We do such a good of practice here of keeping it pressure-packed and up-tempo that it feels like a game.
"I feel like if I play the way I practice I'll be OK."
The Colts on Friday announced that the following players will not play against Atlanta:
Defensive end Dwight Freeney (foot, Physically Unable to Perform), safety Bob Sanders (shoulder, PUP), Manning (knee, PUP), tight end Tom Santi (knee, PUP), offensive guard Ryan Lilja (knee, PUP), linebacker Tyjuan Hagler (chest, PUP), safety Melvin Bullitt (thumb), offensive tackle Ryan Diem (shoulder), wide receiver Roy Hall (hamstring), defensive end Josh Thomas (groin), linebacker Philip Wheeler (knee) and linebacker Victor Worsley (hamstring).