SPECIALISTS SHINE IN COLTS 16-3 LOSS TO REDSKINS
GREEN BAY WEEK CRITICAL FOR COLTS
INDIANAPOLIS – Head coach Jim Caldwell has reiterated in the past that the Colts do not prepare specifically for opponents in the preseason, but that will change with the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers coming into town next Friday.
Not because of the opponent involved, but because the third week of preseason action typically is approached that way throughout the NFL.
"We've got a week where we're really going to focus in on our preparation exactly like a (regular season) ballgame," Caldwell said. "We'll prepare for our opponent. We'll take a look at all the details. I am going to play them quite a bit more, and I think we'll see some improvement."
The offense for the Colts struggled a bit Friday night and has scored 13 points in eight quarters this preseason. Starting quarterback Curtis Painter finished the night five-of-10 passing and echoed the same sentiments as Caldwell.
"I guess that's an advantage this week because we get some time to prepare, kind of play it like a real game-week type scenario," Painter said.
Defensively, the Colts saw some improvements from their 33-10 loss against St. Louis in week one. The defense forced a pair of fumbles and routinely hurried the Redskins quarterbacks.
"We had a situation where we were able to get pressure on the quarterback. I think we had four sacks and got a turnover," Caldwell said.
For most NFL teams the third preseason game is normally the closest to a regular season game with starters playing much deeper into the contest. Caldwell has said in the past that until they start handing out hardware in the preseason the focus will be on improving week-to-week and not just the scoreboard at the end of the game.
"We've just got to pick up the pieces," Caldwell said. "We're going to be able to put together a good football team here. It's just going to take a little work."
McAFEE IN REGULAR SEASON FORM
On a night when the Colts offense struggled to find its rhythm, punter Pat McAfee and the kicking game was on top of things.
McAfee punted four times Friday night with a 57.3 average including one inside the 20-yard line.
"I hit some good balls," McAfee said. "I think we are going to go into the film week ready for Green Bay excited about what we (the kicking game) did personally but obviously the team has to get better and we know that."
The long on the night for McAfee was 60 yards and he was two-for-two on touchbacks to go along with his punting duties.
One major rule change in 2011 is the kickoff being moved up five yards this season, a rule that is expected to benefit many teams, including the Colts.
"I think starting at the 20, statistics have always proved that your defense has a better chance of stopping them," McAfee said. "The 35-yard rule is really helping our team out and with the dome, we aren't going to have to worry about inclement weather, which is awesome."
Last year McAfee's game high average (with at least three punts) was 47.8 yards in the Colts 27-13 win over Denver.
In 2010, McAfee averaged 42 yards per punt compared to the league leading 47.9 average for Mat McBriar of the Dallas Cowboys.
VINATIERI KEEPS STREAK ALIVE
Kicker Adam Vinatieri's 55-yard field goal in the third quarter not only represented the Colts' scoring on Friday night but also extended his streak of 27 straight made field goals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The three points off Vinatieri's right foot were the only ones of the night for the Colts, something the veteran kicker hopes to change come the regular season opener on September 11.
"It would have been nicer to be out on the field for a handful of extra points and a winning effort for sure," Vinatieri said.
Vinatieri's streak dates back to 2009 and includes the preseason, regular season and playoff games.
"Obviously kicking in a dome is a nice thing," Vinatieri said. "You get rid of the elements and you concentrate more on your technique and hitting a good ball. You don't have to worry about footing, wind and rain and all that stuff."
As he stood at his locker pondering about the streak, Vinatieri was quick to share the spotlight with his holder and long snapper.
"These guys don't get enough credit," Vinatieri said pointing at holder Pat McAfee and long snapper Justin Snow. "Justin and Pat are very good at what they do and it makes my job easier. I know where the ball is going to be every time and therefore I don't have to worry about any of that other stuff and I can just concentrate on my job. I'm very proud of them and fortunate that I've got them on my team."
During the streak, Vinatieri has made 12 field goals of over 40 yards and two over 50 yards. Vinatieri ended last season by hitting a 50-yarder in the AFC Wild Card game against the New York Jets.
A four-time Super Bowl champion, Vinatieri's accolades and leadership don't go unnoticed in the Colts locker room.
"The guy is the best ever," McAfee said. "I've been saying it ever since we re-signed him that he's the best ever, that he's the greatest of all-time. I learn something new from him every day, which is going to benefit me the rest of my life."
IRSAY DONATES $64,753
In an effort to help victims of the Indiana State Fair Tragedy from August 13, Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay donated one dollar for every ticket from Friday's contest against Washington to the Indiana State Fair Remembrance Fund.
Along with donating $64,753 to the fund, the Colts had a moment of silence prior to Friday's kickoff.
"Last Saturday our community was shaken to the core as we witnessed a tragedy that claimed five lives and left many injured," said Irsay.
"Through this heartbreaking accident, we have seen the strength, courage and compassion of Hoosiers across this great state. As we remember those we lost and offer our thoughts and prayers, I invite our fans to join us in lending a hand to help these families through this difficult time."