**A Capsule Look at the Colts' Sunday Night Showdown in Arizona
**Indianapolis Colts (2-0) vs. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
Sunday, September 27, 2009 (8:20 p.m. EDT)
University of Phoenix Stadium (65,000 capacity) – Glendale, Arizona
Television/Radio: NBC and 1070-The Fan/HANK-FM 97.1**
In a Sunday night showdown between two of the NFL's top offenses, the Indianapolis Colts will travel to Arizona for only the second time to take on the Cardinals.
It will be the Colts' first trip to Arizona in almost 20 years. Since then, the two teams have played each other three times, all in Indianapolis (1992, 1996 and 2005) and all resulting in Colts' victories. The Colts also hold the all-time series advantage, 7-6.
Following their comeback victory over the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football, Indianapolis improved to 2-0, while the Cardinals are 1-1 heading into Sunday following a season-opening loss to San Francisco and a 31-17 victory over Jacksonville last week.
In the last meeting between the Colts and Cardinals, Indianapolis won 17-13 in the final regular-season game of 2005. Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell, then an assistant under former Head Coach Tony Dungy, remembers the game as a "collective team effort."
"(The Cardinals) played great defense during that time and they are doing the same thing today," he said.
With the Colts' defense a having played 45-plus minutes in a hot environment at Miami last Monday night—and with warm weather anticipated in Arizona on Sunday—Caldwell said the Colts frequently would rotate players in and out against the Cardinals similarly to how they were rotated the previous game.
"It'll probably be about the same as we did in Miami, because we did rotate quite a bit," Caldwell said. "That was one of the things that we went into the ballgame thinking, we were going to rotate a little more here or there. Also, it's just kind of the way we're built and organized. We have a number of guys that can play, so we shuttle them in and out of there as often as we possibly can, and I don't think this week will be any different in that regard."
Linebacker Jordan Senn, who was with the Colts in 2008, was re-signed this week to add depth to a "bumped and bruised" linebacking unit. Gary Brackett and Clint Session are questionable for Sunday's game, but Caldwell said the two are getting better as the week progresses.
"It's kind of day-to-day in both cases. I know they are healing. Clint looks like he is moving fairly well," the Colts coach said.
If someone is unable to go, Caldwell said the team's "Next Man Up" theory goes into play, and he expects whoever is called upon to step up.
"I'm not certain there is any perfect time for a setback," Caldwell said. "We kind of look at it that we have people in place that can step in and do the job, and we expect them to do so. That's what we anticipate in this spot, as well."
Caldwell said among the linebackers that could get playing time Sunday include Philip Wheeler, Freddy Keiaho, Ramon Humber and Senn.
"It will be a rotation that we can work them in and out, depending on who is there and not there," he said.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CARDINALS
Sunday night's game will not only be a meeting between potent offenses, but a showdown between two of the most accurate quarterbacks in NFL history.
Trailing only Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington (66.1%), Kurt Warner (65.5) and Peyton Manning (64.5) rank second and third all-time, respectively, in completion percentage. Both have won a Super Bowl and both are recognized as two of the greatest signal-callers ever to play the game.
"Their experience level is something that benefits them greatly," Caldwell said. "Both of them are very talented physically and both are really gifted mentally. They are able to dissect a defense in a very short period of time. There are not too many things they have not seen."
While Manning has thrown for 151 more touchdowns and 17,110 more passing yards than Warner, the Cardinals quarterback has an astounding 71.4 completion rate through two games in 2009 and converted 24-of-26 passes against the Jaguars last week.
"He is as accurate as they come," Caldwell said. "He has a complete understanding of defensive schemes and how to adjust his protection to handle some unique situations that may be presented to him. He knows how to get the ball in the end zone, and he knows how to spread it around. He is as fine a quarterback as there is in this league."
Helping Warner's cause this year is an arsenal of playmakers. While his two receivers, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, garner most the attention, second-year running back Tim Hightower leads the team in both rushing (87 yards) and receiving (15 catches for 133 yards). He is complemented by rookie running back Chris "Beanie" Wells, who is averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
"The defense will have its hands full stopping (Warner)," Manning said. "He uses those great weapons, Fitzgerald and Boldin, so well. He's had a great career, and it looks like he is off to a great start this year."
The Colts issued Friday's injury report with WR-Anthony Gonzalez (knee) and DB-Bob Sanders (knee) listed as out for Sunday's game. LBs-Gary Brackett (knee) and Clint Session (ankle), DE-Dwight Freeney (back) and DB-Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) are listed as questionable. Freeney and Session were listed as full participation for Friday's practice, while Brackett, Gonzalez, Hayden and Sanders did not participate in practice. RB-Joseph Addai and DB-Marlin Jackson were listed as did not participate-not injury related/rested for Friday's practice.
• "I've never played out there. I've been to the stadium before, of course, good memory out there when (younger brother) Eli (Manning) won the Super Bowl. That was a special day. I know it'll be a tough place to play. They have reestablished that place as a tough place to play after last year's season. I know they lost their first one at home, but they're coming off a win, and they'll be fired up. It'll be a challenge for us." – Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on Arizona's University of Phoenix Stadium
• "I have my own computer set up at the house. The exact same thing we have at work, I have at home. So, everyday, let's say Reggie (Wayne) played a game. I have all his tapes and all his routes from Sunday. Andre Johnson and Terrell Owens and Randy Moss, I have all those guys, and I watch them and see what they're able to do and how they are able to beat guys. We played Jacksonville last week, obviously Indianapolis played Jacksonville the week before, so I did a lot of film study on Reggie. I always try to learn as much as possible from them." – Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on studying other great receivers
• "He's a lot more game-ready for us now. He did a little bit in our kicking game last week, just to get him out there and throw him into the fire on kickoff. He learned quite a bit of our offense, more third down last week, but now, he has more of an all-encompassing view of it. Like I mentioned before, he is a guy that catches on quickly. It's been amazing how much he has learned in a short period of time. So, we could use him a little bit more, if need be." – Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell on wide receiver Hank Baskett
STORYLINES TO WATCH FOR…
1) RUNNING INTO TROUBLE
One of the biggest surprises for the Cardinals this season is their formidable run defense, which ranks fifth in the league and is allowing only 56.5 yards per game.
"It's just two games in, (but) I was very pleased the first week with what we did against the 49ers…and I also think Jacksonville is a pretty good team running the ball, so I was pleased to see that we were able to at least contain them a bit," Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "So I'm pleased with that, but it doesn't make me feel any better that we're playing a team like Indy this week."
The Cardinals coach said the team's defense is best described as a "hybrid," which utilizes both the 4-3 and 3-4 base defenses.
"We've been elements of both," he said. "But we've been a little bit more geared this year towards the 3-4. But we have had elements of both. It's been more about personnel, really, than anything."
Despite the offense's reputation, Caldwell said he thinks the Cardinals are equally tough on defense.
"Their offense gives you a lot of problems, but defensively they can mix it up with the best of them," he said. "They are a good, sound unit that has a lot of quality players."
Caldwell singled out defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, defensive end Calais Campbell, safety Adrian Wilson and linebacker Karlos Dansby as Cardinals players who present opposing teams with the most problems.
"They'll do a variety of different coverages and give you different looks, so we have to be prepared to handle all that they give us, and they are pretty versatile."
2) CATCHING ON QUICKLY
While the Colts are averaging only 66.0 yards per game rushing, the team's running backs have been able to break off big plays, including rookie running back Donald Brown's 15-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Dolphins.
"He has been a great complement to Joseph Addai," Caldwell said of Brown.
With Addai slotted as the starter, Brown has played in a relief role, but has added his own dimension to the Colts offense, according to Caldwell.
"He is a hard-nosed guy. He is tough and he caught on extremely well to our offense, so he has been able to get in and be a factor early on," the Colts coach said.
Caldwell said the fact that Brown was even playing in the fourth quarter Monday night "signifies that we have confidence in him."
"It tells you that he knows what he is doing from a schematic standpoint, that he has no difficulty catching on and catching on quickly to any adjustment we might make."
3) ON THE ROAD AGAIN
For the second time this week, the Colts will enter a hostile environment and play a team in front of a nationally-televised audience.
"They're a team that has been playing extremely well, not only on the road, but at home, Caldwell said. "I understand that they've sold out their last 36 ballgames, or something of that nature. That shows you what kind of fan support they have and the enthusiasm.
"I'm certain their players relish the opportunity to play in front of their home fans and play well … We expect a jacked-up environment with a lot of noise, and a real challenge for us."