Colts Return to Primetime For Second Time This Week
INDIANAPOLIS – After mounting a thrilling comeback victory against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football, the Indianapolis Colts return to primetime this Sunday night, when they travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals (1-1).
For the second time in seven days, the Colts will play on national television. But there are some drawbacks to playing on the big stage, including preparing for a team that made it to the Super Bowl last season on a short week.
"It is always a difficulty in terms of travel and things of that nature," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "We have had to do that on several occasions before."
Caldwell said the most recent instance of back-to-back road games on a short week came in 2007, when the Colts played at Jacksonville on a Monday and then played at Carolina six days later.
"It is just one of those things where you get some unusual opportunities that we certainly enjoy," Caldwell said. "(Now, we play) two real fine teams…on primetime. We are looking forward to it."
While preparing for the Cardinals, Caldwell said the team has taken into account the short week and the physical game they played Monday night. The team practiced without pads on Wednesday, but is wary of modifying too much. Caldwell said the Colts "won't get away from what we ordinarily do."
"We believe in how we've gone about doing things. Those things supersede any radical adjustments we make in preparation for this game," he said.
Defensive end Dwight Freeney said the minor tweaks in practice have been beneficial.
"It's hard to rest on a short week. You're practicing, trying to do what you can do, but Coach (Caldwell) is doing a good job of kind of changing practice up a little bit to where you can rest a little bit more," he said.
Although sore from Monday's game, safety Antoine Bethea said the quick turnaround is made a bit easier since the Colts pulled off the feat in 2007, beating both the Jaguars and the Panthers.
"It's a short week, but we've done it before," Bethea said. "We've come back and won the Sunday game before, so we hope to do that this week."
SECONDARY UP FOR THE CHALLENGE
The Colts secondary will be put to the test Sunday when it goes against two of the best wide receivers in the NFL, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
The two Pro Bowl wide receivers highlight a potent Arizona offense. In 2008, Fitzgerald and Boldin combined for 185 catches, 2,469 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns.
"They are a great combination," Caldwell said. "They are big and strong, they can jump and run, they are tough and can take short passes and turn them into long gains. Their run after the catch is something to behold. (The Cardinals) utilize them in a number of ways with short and intermediate passes. They move them around with a lot of motions and shifts, and they can make it very difficult for you."
While aware of the difficult task ahead, rookie defensive back Jacob Lacey said he is looking forward to "go(ing) against some of the best in the league."
"But it's also a challenge, you have step up and be on your best game," he said.
Fifth-year veteran Kelvin Hayden, who played against Fitzgerald and Boldin in the team's 17-13 victory over the Cardinals in 2005, said the team is well aware of "the capabilities of those guys."
"Now, it is about going out there and making plays," he said.
The Colts won a hard-fought game in the heat in Miami last Monday night, with game-time temperatures in the mid-80s. The forecast for Sunday in Glendale, Ariz., calls for more of the same with a high of 105 degrees, according to weather.com. University of Phoenix Stadium has a retractable roof, and a decision on whether the roof is open or not must be made at least 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
"They say it's dry heat," Freeney said. "But an oven is dry heat, too. Stick your head in an oven…It's going to be hot (in Arizona)."
The Colts defensive end said he has worked out in Glendale when the temperature has been as high as 118 degrees.
"You have to remember, it's the desert. If they have the roof closed and the AC (air conditioning) going, you're still in the desert. You have to drink a lot of water."
Caldwell said there are no guarantees whether the stadium's roof will be open or not.
"They make that decision on game day," he said. "We just have to deal with the elements, if that is indeed the case."
The Colts issued Thursday's injury report with Clint Session (ankle) listed as full participation in practice, while the following players were listed as did not participate in practice: LB-Gary Brackett (knee), DE-Dwight Freeney (back), WR-Anthony Gonzalez (knee) and DBs-Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) and Bob Sanders (knee).