Colts Monday Notebook
**"A GOOD TEST"
As the Colts head north to Green Bay for their third preseason game on Thursday, the buzz around the players this week is one of excitement.
For one, the preparation since the Bills game this past Thursday replicates a true game-week scenario for the players, coaches and staff. Game planning, film preparation and adjusting to their regular season routine have set in since returning from training camp in Anderson.
However, the mystique of traveling to play at Lambeau Field, also known as "The Frozen Tundra," is not lost on any of the Colts' players or Head Coach Jim Caldwell even in a preseason game.
"I think it will be fun for our guys, I think," Caldwell said. "It's a great atmosphere. It's one that will be challenging, it will be stimulating, but our guys typically embrace that kind of atmosphere."
For the veterans, this road game will take on the feel of so many others, but the reaction the younger players have also will be worth noting.
"It's more of a learning process for them, but I think they take their lead oftentimes from the veterans," Caldwell said. "They spend a lot of time watching how they function and react, and our guys have been in a lot of big games, and every single game away from home has this kind of atmosphere, a lot of noise and a lot of venom, and certainly a lot of fun."
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning sees Thursday's game as a great opportunity for the team to get a quality road game under its belt before the season starts, as Indianapolis plays four of its first six games on the road.
Green Bay, which ranked second in total defense in 2009 and sixth in total offense, seems to be made for the Colts to evaluate where they currently stand before heading into the season opener against division rival Houston.
"I think it'll be a great test for everybody," Manning said. "Green Bay has great crowds no matter what the situation is, but I think it will be a good test. We have a lot of our games early in the season, including the opener, on the road. It's a good test for us, and I think we'll be able to face a lot of situations in this game; dealing with crowd noise, working against a number of different defenses.
"Green Bay really mixes it up, they are a blitz team and they play a lot of different looks. All of those things combined, it'll be tough to execute, but it will be good for our team to see those different things in the preseason."
Defensive back Jerraud Powers is looking forward to his first game in Green Bay and may even look up an old college teammate from Auburn, Patrick Lee. Powers said Lee told him that in Green Bay, "Everything is football."
"(My teammates) have told me that it is fun," Powers said. "I'm pretty sure it is a fun town and probably (has) more of a college type feel than anything just because they say it is completely football across the whole city. The players here say they love playing there just because of the atmosphere and how fun it is. I just want to make sure I feel that."
Dwight Freeney had former Colts defensive end Chad Bratzke to learn from, giving Freeney the time to develop into a five-time Pro Bowl selection.
It stands to reason that Freeney would give Jerry Hughes, the Colts' 2010 first-round draft pick from Texas Christian University, the same type of mentoring. And as Freeney stated Monday, Hughes has an advantage. With Freeney and two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis, there is no need to feel the pressure of being a starting defensive end just yet.
"There is no rush for Jerry," Freeney said. "There is not a dire, dire need for Jerry now or it's all over. Jerry is going to learn the system. He is going to learn how to play Colts ball and he is going to be a great player. Whenever that happens, it happens. Right now, his job is to get better every day and to continue to learn."
Learning the defensive end position in the NFL may also be a bit steeper climb than most rookies at that position think. Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell shed light on that subject during Sunday's press conference.
"You're facing bigger, faster guys that give you a little bit more trouble than guys you were accustomed to playing with," Caldwell said. "We see the best, the biggest and fastest offensive tackles that you are going to see. They have a way of working their techniques, and they are very, very skilled at being able to get themselves in position to keep you away from the quarterback. I do think there is a learning curve."
But does the head coach believe that Hughes has the tools not only to succeed, but also to excel at the NFL level?
"Certainly I think all the physical things are obvious," Caldwell said. "He can run, he's strong, and he's developing is probably the next thing I would say. He has to learn just how to best use his skill set, and I think all those guys that have that pass rush ability have to find out what their niche is, have to find out what their knockout punch is, and then be able to develop a counter. I think he's working on that at this point."
The Indianapolis Colts signed two free agents, running back Allen Patrick and defensive back Glenn Sharpe, the club announced Monday. The Colts also waived quarterback Tim Hiller.
Patrick (6-1, 200) is a first-year player who originally was a 2008 seventh-round draft choice out of Oklahoma by Baltimore. He also has spent time with Cleveland, Jacksonville and the New York Giants.
Sharpe (6-0, 184), a first-year player who attended Miami (Fla.), originally signed as a free agent with Atlanta in 2008. He also has spent time with New Orleans.
-The Colts are 5-2 all-time against the Packers in preseason play since 1980.
-Indianapolis won the last preseason meeting in 1996, 30-6.
-Green Bay's last preseason victory against Indianapolis was in 1993 by a score of 41-10.
-The league series between the Colts and Packers is 20-20-1.