Preparation, Fatigue A Concern as Colts Work in Short Week
INDIANAPOLIS – A day later, Jim Caldwell already was looking forward.
And this week, he did so without much time.
Caldwell, in his second season as the Colts' head coach, said Tuesday without question time is a major issue this week as the Colts prepare to play the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday after moving into sole possession of first place in the AFC South late Monday night.
There's not as much of it as normal.
And that means there's another major factor which to be concerned this week.
"Fatigue," Caldwell said.
Caldwell, speaking a day after the Colts beat the Houston Texans, 30-17, at Lucas Oil Stadium, said rest and finding a way to maintain fresh legs will be a primary concern as the team prepares to visit Philadelphia.
Getting either isn't easy in the Colts' situation. But it's imant and Caldwell said it can be done.
Caldwell said while the Colts will return to a normal schedule – i.e., practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – this week, physical work may be less intense than usual Wednesday and Thursday.
"You probably have to consider doing some things a little differently because of the fact you're back on the field so quickly after a late game," Caldwell said Tuesday during his weekly day-after news conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"You're essentially one day short. Usually, you have a Monday in terms of your preparation, then a Tuesday. You're one day short in terms of preparation with your coaching staff.
"There's a way we go about it. Typically, we look back and previous schedules and utilize those as our baseline, but every year is different. The health of your team and those things have to be taken into consideration."
The Colts may have lost a day of preparation Monday, but while there were doing it, they gained sole possession of the division lead for the first time this season.
They also on Monday won their 13th consecutive game in November.
Quarterback Peyton Manning completed 26 of 45 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns, and Mike Hart – playing in place of injured starter Joseph Addai – rushed for 84 yards on 12 carries. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon caught seven passes for 78 yards, and wide receiver Reggie Wayne caught four passes for 39 yards and a 15-yard third-quarter touchdown.
Jacob Tamme, starting with Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark out for the season, caught six passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, and the Colts outgained the Texans, 366-291.
The Colts' defense, playing without cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey as well as injured safeties Bob Sanders and Melvin Bullitt, held the Texans to 108 yards rushing.
"We're certainly proud of the way they played," Caldwell said of Hart and Tamme, adding, "That's how we win. We win with guys that – when things look a little bleak on the outside to everybody on the outside as far as not being able to do this or that because of injuries – pay no attention to that. They believe in themselves, and they have the wherewithal to put it all together and be able to perform. That's part of who we are."
The Texans had rushed for a franchise-record 257 yards in a 34-24 victory over the Colts in the regular-season opener, but after leaving Houston that day a game behind in the division, Indianapolis has won five of six games to lead the division by a game over Houston (4-3).
Tennessee is a half-game behind at 5-3 and Jacksonville is 4-4.
"We'll throw this one behind us and after we've had an opportunity to look at the film, we'll focus in on the next one, and that's all we're concerned about," Caldwell said. "We're not concerned about standings. We're not concerned about anything else. We're concerned about getting better and getting ourselves in the best position to play well on Sunday."
And if doing so means dealing with an unusual schedule, Caldwell said the Colts attempted to negate that issue by having coaches – not players – begin studying the Eagles during the recent bye week. While practices were focused on the Colts improving, Caldwell said much of the coaches' film study during the bye focused on Philadelphia.
The Eagles were off last week, something Caldwell said helped because there were no further games to study following the Houston game.
While the Eagles have started both Kelvin Kolb and Michael Vick this season, Eagles coach Andy Reid has named Vick the starter, and Caldwell said the Colts will prepare with that as the plan.
"We had the information we needed to come up with a pretty good early game plan," Caldwell said. "We tried to establish a pretty clear picture of what our game plan would be against them knowing we're going to be a little short this week.
"Preparation does indeed change a little bit."
And even with the change in routine, Caldwell said he doesn't mind shorter weeks.
"I always liked them, to be honest with you," he said. "No. 1, it forces you to narrow your scope quickly. It forces you to reduce your game plan and settle in on a few things. Often, the more time you have the more things you dream up. Also, I like it because the guys have short, crisp, sharp practices because you don't want to wear them out anymore. Thus, it gives you an opportunity to play fairly well. I'm not certain that will be the case this week, but that will be our goal.
"A lot of it has to do with the way our guys go about taking care of business and focusing on what they have to get accomplished and performing well."