A Capsule Look at the Colts' Monday Night Showdown Against the Dolphins
**Indianapolis Colts (1-0) vs. Miami Dolphins (0-1)
Monday, September 21, 2009 (8:30 p.m. EDT)
Land Shark Stadium (75,192 capacity) – Miami Gardens, Florida
Television/Radio: ESPN and 1070-The Fan/HANK-FM 97.1**
For the first time since winning Super Bowl XLI, the Indianapolis Colts return to Miami to face the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
Despite fond memories from their last trip, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said he does not anticipate his team doing much reminiscing upon their return to Land Shark Stadium.
"It's a place where we had success the last time we were there," Caldwell said. "But it doesn't mean anything going back this time around.
"We have a real challenge ahead of us playing Miami, so we'll be focused in on getting ready and getting in position to play our best down there," he said.
The Colts are coming off a season-opening 14-12 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday while the Dolphins, who have won nine of their last 11 regular-season games dating back to last season, are trying to rebound from a 19-7 road loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1.
In 67 career meetings, the Dolphins hold a 44-23 edge over the Colts. The last time these two teams played, on Dec. 31, 2006, the Colts won inside the RCA Dome, 27-22.
The biggest news for the Colts this week came in the form of a 6-foot-4, 220-pound wide receiver, Hank Baskett.
The former Philadelphia Eagle signed with the Colts on Thursday and has begun poring through the team's playbook in hopes of playing Monday night against the Dolphins.
With only three other healthy wide receivers on the active roster, Caldwell said on Friday he was not certain exactly how much Baskett would play.
"It just depends on how much he can grasp," the Colts coach said. "He's a very, very smart guy. I think that is one of the things you realize, the guys that have been around this game for a while, they stick around because they are smart. They can learn and learn quickly. He's certainly shown the ability to do that. We'll just see how it goes the rest of the week."
One advantage Baskett does have is coming from a team with a very complex, albeit different, offense. But the newest member of the Colts joked he has always bragged about "being a smart kid" and this is his chance to prove it.
"I definitely feel like I can contribute (on Monday)," he said.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE DOLPHINS
Few teams in history have experienced the type of turnaround the Dolphins have gone through over the past two seasons.
In fact, there is only one other team: The 1999 Indianapolis Colts.
After a 3-13 season in 1998, which is best remembered as quarterback Peyton Manning's rookie year, the Colts went 13-3 in 1999, becoming the only team in history to see a 10-win improvement in one season.
That is, until the 2008 Dolphins pulled off the same feat. After a difficult 1-15 season in 2007, Miami went 11-5 last year and made it to the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
Much of the credit has been given to first-year head coach Tony Sparano, a former Dallas Cowboy offensive line coach, who worked alongside Dolphins Vice President of Football Operations Bill Parcells to turn the team's fortunes around.
"I think anytime you come into a situation like that, changing the culture is a hard thing to do, and we're not all the way there yet," Sparano said. "I think we made a pretty good dent in it, but we're certainly not where we want to be with that."
After making 53 different roster moves between spring OTAs and the offseason last year, Sparano said he and Parcells would continue to act aggressively in 2009.
"There was a lot of turnover," Sparano said. "You had to be willing to accept the fact that the bottom of the roster was going go change and not fall in love with a lot of players, because we need to be able to continue to move players and try to bring in the best players that we possibly can."
The Colts issued their injury report on Saturday with offensive tackle Charlie Johnson (back) and defensive back Jamie Silva (abdomen) listed as full participation in practice. Listed as did not participate in practice were: wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (knee), defensive backs Marlin Jackson (not injury related-rested), Jerraud Powers (groin) and Bob Sanders (knee), guard Jamey Richard (shoulder), tight ends Gijon Robinson (back) and Tom Santi (ankle) and offensive tackle Tony Ugoh (not injury related-rested). Johnson, Powers, Richard, Robinson and Silva are questionable for Monday's game, while Gonzalez, Sanders and Santi have been declared out.
• "I know he is a South Florida guy so he needs to get a bunch of tickets for this game … I think Pierre used his year last year to his advantage, kind of treated it as a red-shirt year. I think he learned, and this year with the loss of Marvin (Harrison) and now that [Anthony Gonzalez is hurt], he will be playing a bunch … I am looking forward to seeing how he responds and performs under the lights. He has worked really hard this offseason; I am really impressed with his work ethic." – Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on wide receiver Pierre Garcon
• "I don't know. I've gotten him a few times, but he's gotten me a bunch, too. He was in our division for awhile, so we had some good battles." – Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor on how he has sacked Manning over the years
• "I was truly excited, to have one great quarterback (in Philadelphia) and then come to one of the greatest over here. Peyton is incredible. The whole organization here is known for winning, and that's a huge positive, to leave a good organization and to go to another powerful organization that is known for winning. That just makes this whole situation that much better." – Colts wide receiver Hank Baskett on leaving Philadelphia and joining Indianapolis
STORYLINES TO WATCH FOR…
1) CONTROLLING THE WILDCAT
If there is one thing that has become synonymous with Miami Dolphins football over the last 12 months it is the Wildcat offense, which has become an offensive sensation in the NFL.
Utilizing running back Ronnie Brown as the team's quarterback, the Wildcat is a run-heavy formation that the Dolphins typically use as a change-of-pace offense to throw defenses off.
At first, Sparano said teams mocked the formation. Now, they are mimicking it, the ultimate sign of admiration.
"I find that kind of interesting," the Dolphins coach said. "I wasn't sure what it would be received as, one way or the other, I really didn't care. I was just more worried about how we could find offense from our end and get the best players on the field we had, and it gave us the opportunity to get Ronnie and Ricky (Williams) on the field."
In addition to the two star backs, the Colts also have to prepare for former West Virginia quarterback Pat White, who the Dolphins drafted last April and used in the Wildcat in Week 1 against the Falcons.
Caldwell said the Colts got a small taste of the formation last week and expect to see it much more this week.
"It's a huge part of their offensive scheme," he said. "If you let it, you certainly could spend a lot of time on (the Wildcat) alone. That's where you will get yourself into some trouble because they (Dolphins) do a lot of things extremely well.
2) JONES-DREW VS. BROWN AND WILLIAMS
A week after holding Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew under 100 rushing yards, the Colts' run defense faces another stern challenge in Week 2 with the two-pronged attack of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
Both are big, powerful Pro Bowl backs that have a lot of similarities, according to Caldwell.
"Ricky is a bigger guy, at least when he's carrying the ball," Caldwell said. "He's a downhill runner. Brown can do both pretty well. He can get outside, and obviously that's one of the reasons they have him in the Wildcat. He's a very, very versatile guy. Both are extraordinary players."
Linebacker Gary Brackett said the biggest difference between the two opponents is size.
"What helps Jones-Drew is his leverage since he's so close to the ground and able to sustain hits with his low center-of-gravity," Brackett said. "Ronnie is a bit more athletic with good feet and does a good job of finding holes and hitting them with speed.
"Ricky is more of a savvy veteran. He's going to find his holes and recognize the defenses you're in, so he tries and takes advantage of it."
3) MCAFEE COULD HANDLE KICKOFFS
In addition to a new wide receiver, the Colts also may have a new kickoff specialist for this week at Miami.
Caldwell said rookie Pat McAfee probably will take over kickoff duties against the Dolphins, after the team released K-Shane Andrus earlier in the week.
The team's punter said he is used to wearing different hats after serving as West Virginia's place kicker, punter and kickoff specialist in college.
"I'm excited to get the opportunity to do it again," McAfee said. "I'm looking forward to getting in rhythm and kicking some balls down in Miami."