OFFENSIVE LINE SHUFFLED AGAIN
* *For the third consecutive week, the Colts sent out a new offensive line in front of quarterback Curtis Painter.
The right side of the line saw the changes this week with Ryan Diem moving inside to guard, replacing Mike Pollak, and Jeff Linkenbach being re-inserted into the starting unit at right tackle.
As it was last week against Washington, the other three spots along the offensive line was center Jeff Saturday, left guard Joe Reitz and left tackle Anthony Castonzo.
Despite having its first start together as a unit, the offensive line helped pave the way for running back Joseph Addai. On the second and third plays from scrimmage Addai had runs of 19 and eight yards off the right side and finished the game with 44 yards on eight carries.
"We got a chance to run the ball a bit and it's something that we've needed to do this whole preseason, kind of establish our run game and work on it in a game-type atmosphere," Diem said. "We were able to rip off a couple of good ones and it's always good carrying that momentum into the regular season."
The success of the offensive line and the running game helped to balance the offense for quarterback Curtis Painter and his two touchdown passes.
"(The) offensive line did great and obviously the (running) backs did a great job," Painter said. "We were able to bust some pretty good runs early on. Any time you do that it obviously opens up some other things so that was huge for us."
The move to right guard for Diem is the first time he has played there since his first two seasons, as he has occupied the right tackle spot for the Colts since 2003.
"Playing in a different position is like starting all over again and it seems like it was two careers ago that I played guard," Diem said. "Obviously pass protection is totally different technique, totally different style of pass rusher. It felt pretty good going against the bigger guys inside and I think it's coming back to me."
The start at right tackle was the first of Linkenbach's career. The second year pro started four games in last year's regular season with three of those coming at right guard and the other at left tackle.
The starting unit played the entire first half together and the only switch made to start the second half was Mike Pollak at center for Saturday. Pollak had started the previous first two preseason games at right guard.
If the Colts come out with the same unit as they did against Green Bay in the regular season opener against Houston the number of games started will be: Castonzo and Reitz with zero starts, Saturday (172), Diem (139) and Linkenbach (4).
"I just want to get the best players on the field that we can," Diem said. "We'll put our group together, we will gel and we will be good."
BROOKS CATCHES FIRST NFL TOUCHDOWN
* *After making his first career start against Washington last week, wide receiver Chris Brooks added another milestone Friday recording his first NFL touchdown.
Finishing off an efficient nine-play, 69-yard scoring drive in just 1:29 possession time, Brooks hauled in a seven-yard pass from Painter in the corner of the end zone to give the Colts a 14-13 lead with 26 seconds remaining in the first half.
On second-and-goal from the seven-yard line, Brooks lined up in the left slot and made the touchdown grab over tight coverage from Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush.
"It just was a blessing to even be in the situation," Brooks said. "We work on that play every day, every week in practice. Curtis threw a great ball and I just went up and made a play on it."
Earlier in the drive, Brooks helped keep things alive for the Colts catching an 11-yard pass on third-and-six.
During both the Colts scoring drives in the first half, Brooks was in the slot along with Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon.
This is Brooks' second season with the Colts (he was on the practice squad last year) and the Nebraska product has soaked up all that he can from the leader of the wide receiver corps.
"I've got a guy wearing the 87 (Wayne) jersey who gives me all the confidence in the world, so having that mentor next to me is big for me," Brooks said. "When we're out there he's giving me hints. When I scored, he was the first person I ran to."
Brooks is trying to make the most of his opportunity as the Colts receiving corps has taken a hit with injuries in the past few weeks.
Neither Austin Collie nor Anthony Gonzalez dressed Friday night and Brooks was the third wide receiver to see action for the Colts.
"Obviously, we know what those guys (Collie and Gonzalez) can do so I'm just trying my best to mature and grow into a role, whatever role that may be," Brooks said.
* SECOND QUARTER MAGIC*
* *It took a little time for the Colts offense Friday night but it found its stride in the second quarter.
After only recording one first down and 33 total yards in the opening quarter, the Colts broke out with 180 yards of offense and 10 first downs in the second stanza.
"I think it would've been very easy to go in the tank after that but we kept on it and obviously turned it around in the second quarter and put a nice couple drives there to score," Painter said.
The Colts opening drive of the quarter was the longest of the night (10 plays) with Painter and Wayne hooking up three different times for 36 yards.
The first touchdown of the night for Painter and the offense came on the following drive when he found a wide open Wayne along the left sideline. On a third-and-nine from the Colts own 43-yard line, Painter hit Wayne for one of his six catches on the night totaling 105 yards.
With only 1:55 remaining in the first half, Painter led a two-minute drill that only lasted 1:29. The Colts went 69 yards in nine plays with Brooks capping the drive on a seven-yard touchdown catch. The touchdown was set up by a 36-yard reception by Garcon, who was closely guarded on the play by Packers Pro Bowl Safety Nick Collins.
During the second quarter, the Colts were 4-5 on third down conversions with Painter completing 9-of-15 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns.