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Colts Daily Headlines: January 9th Edition

Intro: Each morning will take a look at the top headlines surrounding the Indianapolis Colts from around the globe.


INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts finish up their week of practice this morning before departing for the east coast tomorrow afternoon. Today's news looks at the calming influences of Tom Brady and Andrew Luck, Pep Hamilton versus Bill Belichik and what the Patriots offense will be facing in the Colts defense.

Take a look below at the top pieces fromThursday, January 9th.**Brady, Luck demand more of their receivers**By: Stephen Holder, Indy Star

Holder looks at the two quarterbacks in Saturday's divisional matchup that have been mainstays for the entire season.

When Brady and Luck square off on Saturday, they'll each be doing so after having adapted their games to new, unfamiliar receivers without sharp declines in production or wins.

For all that's required of NFL quarterbacks – read defenses, change plays, understand schemes – there are, perhaps, few things more valuable than the ability to get the most out of the players who surround them.

In the case of Luck, it's become clear he is dangerous whether throwing to Reggie Wayne or the likes of LaVon Brazill. And where Brady is concerned, he has proven that whether his featured receiver is tight end Rob Gronkowski or little-known Julian Edelman — who went from a career-high 21 receptions last season to 105 this season — he can be effective nonetheless.

"Over the course of playing a few years we lost certain guys at certain points in the year," Brady said. "I think the main thing is just to try to figure out what you need to do as an offense to still be productive. You can lose a tight end or receiver or running back at any point in any game, and no one really feels sorry for you at that point. You just got to figure out a way to get as many yards and score as many points as you can."

When Bill Belichick hangs up the whistle one day, he will eventually be inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This week though he's the opposing Colts coach and Belichick spoke very highly of Indianapolis offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.

"We know that they had a lot of success last week against Kansas City, and we certainly have to be ready for that," Belichick said. "Maybe that will be what we get, but maybe that will be more of a game plan for Kansas City. Maybe they'll look at us differently, maybe they won't. We'll just have to wait until Saturday to see on that. But Pep looks like a very game-plan oriented coach, and it's hard to predict exactly what they're going to do from game to game."

Some of this certainly is gamesmanship.

Belichick is a master of mental warfare, and he'll seek any advantage he can get. But the battle of wits between the league's foremost defensive-minded head coach and the Colts' rising young offensive coordinator will be one of the game's most important matchups.

Hamilton has been down this road before, helping to devise game plans to attack some of Belichick's best New England defenses from 2003-05 as an offensive assistant for the rival New York Jets.

That experience showed Hamilton just how difficult the challenge can be. The Jets went 0-6 against the Patriots in those three seasons, averaging 11.7 points per game.

"I think you know they're going to be well-prepared and well-versed in all the different disguises and the different things that they feel like they can do to try and create uncertainty for our offense presnap," Hamilton said. "It'll be a tremendous challenge. I coached in the same division for three years with Coach Belichick, and it was always truly a chess match."

While the Belichick/Hamilton matchup is intriguing this week, less attention has been made of the Colts defense facing Tom Brady.

"They're actually a vanilla defense," said wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who also noted the defensive backs' talent and athleticism on the outside. "The DBs happen to play a lot of off coverage. We'll probably have some freedom on the outside if we actually run some catch-and-run routes to be able to get the ball quick and be able to get going downfield. I think they do a great job of playing a lot of sound defense."

Some noticeable trends, both positive and negative, pop up while studying the Colts pass defense. First, while the linebackers and defensive backs are often in the chase position, they're excellent tacklers, and there are very few yards to be had after the catch.

Second, cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Darius Butler defend the vertical routes very well because of their athleticism. That's partly why they play off the line, because they've got good range, hip movement and athleticism to break up throws outside the numbers. Yet, those routes don't suit the Pats' strengths anyway, and a likely lack of Aaron Dobson would further that notion.

Finally, the Colts do a decent job of disguising their coverages before the snap, though their blitzes don't appear to be terribly frustrating. One key after the snap involves the inside linebackers in their 3-4 base. While the corners play a lot of man and concede inside patterns, the availability of those routes will be determined by inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Kelvin Sheppard.

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