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Colts Hope To See 'Biggest Jump' Against Cowboys

Intro: Colts head coach Chuck Pagano believes a team’s “biggest jump” of the preseason comes between games 1 and 2. Indianapolis hopes to do just that on Saturday, when it travels to take on the Cowboys in Dallas.


INDIANAPOLIS —The Indianapolis Colts players came back to work on Tuesday after their first preseason game of the year with a message from their head coach.

"You always make your biggest jump, we say, from Week 1 to Week 2," Chuck Pagano said.

So the team would hit the field for its last official week of training camp practices at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center with hopes of accomplishing just that.

On Thursday, the team put camp in its rear-view mirror, although Pagano said everything training camp stands for — the hard work, competition, camraderie, etc. — will remain with the Colts for the remainder of the preseason, and continues Saturday, when the team heads to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in its second preseason contest.

"We're in camp mode," Pagano told Bob Lamey on Thursday. "Just 'cause we got out of the hotel — this, that and the other — we're in training camp mode and it's time to go to work. And so this is going to be an opportunity to go against a really good football team and see exactly where we're at; where we're at individually and where we're at collectively as a football team. So we're excited about the opportunity."

The Colts opened their preseason with a 24-10 home loss to the Detroit Lions in which their first-team offense struggled to move the ball in its three series played, while their first-team defense earned an interception on the Lions' opening drive and did not allow any points along the way.

• On his goals for the offense against the Cowboys, Pagano said:

"We've got to get first downs. We've got to be better on third down. You know, we were 22 percent; 4-of-18. You're not going to win any football games that way. We've got to do that. We've got to put points on the board."

• As for what Pagano wants to see out of his defense, referencing a play in which outside linebacker Akeem Ayers appeared to create a second Lions turnover by stripping the ball, which was recovered by a Colts teammate, only to see the play ultimately ruled dead prior to the fumble:

"I want to build on what we started. We created the one turnover, we had another one, unfortunately, it was a bang-bang play, and forward progress was ruled. But Akeem Ayers did a great job of a tackle and a strip simultaneously, and so we've got to continue to build on that — clean up a few runs that got out on us — and keep building that mindset and that mentality on the defensive side."

Participation-wise, Pagano said his hope is to have guard/tackle Joe Haeg, who missed the Lions game, back on the field with the team for "20 to 25 reps" Saturday against the Cowboys. Pagano also indicated that the hope is Jack Mewhort, who sat out Thursday's practice to rest his knee, will be able to play, as well.

Defensively, the Colts are also expecting to see a few key players make their 2017 preseason debuts on Saturday. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who injured his ankle in practice Aug. 5 and sat out the Lions game as a precaution, will be in with the No. 1 defense, Pagano said, while Antonio Morrison (groin) and Jon Bostic (finger) should also be with the top unit at inside linebacker, though Pagano cautioned they could be playing limited snaps.

"Excited to see those guys go," Pagano said.

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