INDIANAPOLIS – For the past 16 years, Pep Hamilton has navigated his way through collegiate and professional ranks to his role of coordinating the Indianapolis offense.
Now, Hamilton is within two days of the Colts unveiling their 2013 attack, one that places an emphasis on running the ball successfully.
He feels the club is on track to develop the desired result.
"I think so," said Hamilton. "I think Vick (Ballard) and Donald (Brown), and Kerwynn (Williams) for that matter, did a good job of running the football between the tackles (in) preseason.
"I think it all starts up front. Our offensive line, they've progressively gotten better since the start of camp. We expect that we're going to be able to come out and control the line of scrimmage. That's our ultimate goal."
The goal is to run effectively to control the game and aid the passing game. At Stanford, Hamilton's offenses ran more than 50 percent of the time and while not caught up in numbers as much as ability, he wants to stay away from certain problems.
"A big part of it for us is the positive plays, of course. We've got to manage bad plays and prevent the negative plays," said Hamilton. "The TFLs (tackles for loss) are hard to overcome. Third-and-long is a tremendous challenge.
"We also feel like just over the course of a game when you can run the football, it tends to wear your opponent down some and as well as it opens up the passing. The positive plays are what matters most to us."
In 2012, the Colts were tilted far more toward the pass than the rush. It has been a historical pattern for the franchise, and the most important stat – results – shows the need for ground proficiency.
Last year, Indianapolis rushed the ball more often than it passed in only three games, triumphs over Cleveland, Houston and Jacksonville. The average victory margin was 11 points.
Since 1998, the Colts are 38-4 in games where they have rushed more often than they passed. Indianapolis owns a 14.7-point victory margin in those triumphs. Twenty-four of those wins were by double-digits and 16 were by at least 18 points.
Even in losing seasons during that span (3-13, 1998; 6-10, 2001; 2-14, 2011), the club was undefeated (5-0) in such outings.
Wanting a power attack, Hamilton will use Ahmad Bradshaw, too, a two-time 1,000-yard back.
"We expect that Ahmad (will) be a guy that can make something happen when the ball is in his hands," said Hamilton. "He's a power runner. He can run between the tackles but when he breaks through that first line of defense, he has the ability to score touchdowns.
Chuck Pagano says a 4.0 average is a "benchmark" for determining if the rushing game is successful. The ultimate goal set by the team is a 5.0 average because it would "lead the world. That's the way we challenge our guys and challenge ourselves."
The Colts sported a 4.0 average eight times last year, twice hitting 5.0.
Pagano and his staff feel good for the progress made, as is Bradshaw, who is ready for his Colts debut.
"I can't wait, the first game of the season. It feels good to be out here with this team. It's a family, we're ready to go," said Bradshaw. "We have the mentality that we know it's (the rushing attack) going to happen. That's how it works.
"I'm ready to go. Whatever they (coaches) throw at me, I'll be out there and giving 100 percent. Take it easy, slow (and) let the game come to me."
Bradshaw embraces the multiple-back approach of the offense, citing the physical nature of the game and how widely it is used around the league. It keeps backs "fresh for every game."
Hamilton has wound his way through two colleges and six NFL teams to reach this point. He is ready for Sunday's proving ground.
"Our guys are going to be competent and ready to go out and be successful," said Hamilton. "I think we've had a chance to kind of grow. I love our trust and our ability to communicate. That's a major component in our unit having success this Sunday."
PRACTICE REPORT – Did not participate: LB-Kavell Conner (ankle), WR-David Reed (concussion/quadriceps), LB-Pat Angerer (concussion), WR-Reggie Wayne (not injury related); Full participation: TE-Dwayne Allen (foot), RB-Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), OT-Anthony Castonzo (knee), TE-Coby Fleener (knee), LB-Mario Harvey (knee), S-Joe Lefeged (knee), G-Mike McGlynn (knee), DT-Fili Moala (foot).
Said Angerer, "(I feel) good. It's something that comes from the Cincinnati game that I thought would go away. It didn't. (We're) taking the right steps to make it right. We'll see." Should Angerer miss, Kelvin Sheppard will start at 'mike' linebacker.
INJURY REPORT – Out: Conner; Doubtful: Angerer; Questionable: Reed, Moala; Probable: Allen, Bradshaw, Castonzo, Fleener, Harvey, Lefeged, McGlynn.