INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts opened up the garage doors to their indoor facility on Thursday for another chilly practice.
Early forecast outlooks for Sunday night in Pittsburgh have temperatures hovering around 40 degrees with little chance for precipitation.
Here are some sound bites from coordinators Rob Chudzinski and Greg Manusky meeting the media on Thursday:Rob Chudzinski on the play of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck:
"He's playing like a 22-year-old in terms of his excitement and passion to play.
"I can't say enough about him and his performance."
Bowen's Analysis: It's almost been lost in the craziness of this Colts season that they are riding a three-game winning streak with a new offensive coordinator calling the shots. On Thursday, Chud was effusive in his praise for the play of Matt Hasselbeck.
Watching Hasselbeck play, practice and even interact in the locker room, you can see the energy Chud loves in his current starting quarterback. Hasselbeck is challenging some career-high marks in yards per game and completion percentage with his play this season.Rob Chudzinski on getting the run game going:
"It's something we are working hard on and we need to improve the effectiveness of it.
"I do see improvements though. I think we are making progress. It's not showing in the production, but I do feel good about the direction we are going."
Bowen's Analysis:* *For the fifth straight week, the Colts will encounter a top-12 ranked running defense. Chudzinski was pretty clear on Thursday with the need to improve the consistency in the run game (Frank Gore has averaged 2.5 yards per carry the past four games).
Chud said that despite the run numbers not being where he wants them of late, he says sticking to it has allowed the offense to set up the play-action and eat up clock. Just like Chuck Pagano on Thursday, Chud made it clear that this offense is going to rely on Boom Herron to be a key contributor in that No. 2 back role. Herron is like a 12th starter for the Colts now.
Greg Manusky on the Pittsburgh wide receivers:
"They are lightning fast and can split a defense."
Bowen's Analysis: All offseason long we heard the debate on the top wide receiver group in the NFL. With December here, I think there's little doubt that Pittsburgh has the top unit in the league.
Despite three different quarterbacks in 2015, the Steelers have still been among the top units in the NFL. With Jerrell Freeman's status for Sunday in serious question, it will be interesting to see how much nickel/dime looks the Colts play on Sunday to combat the Pittsburgh wideouts. A return of Mike Adams would allow for Clayton Geathers to go back to his roaming dime safety role.**
Here is Thursday's injury report:
- DNP: OT-Anthony Castonzo (knee), WR-Phillip Dorsett (ankle), ILB-Jerrell Freeman (hamstring), C-Khaled Holmes (fibula), ILB-D'Qwell Jackson (rest), QB-Andrew Luck (abdomen/kidney), OG-Hugh Thornton (elbow), CB-Greg Toler (rest)
-If Freeman can't go Sunday, Nate Irving could be the guy filling in. That's what happened last Sunday when Freeman exited. Lance Louis appears to be the guy at right guard, if Thornton does indeed miss Sunday. Holmes is a new addition to the injury report.
- LIMITED: S-Mike Adams (ankle/hamstring)
-Adams was back at practice on Thursday and his status for Friday will certainly impact his possible return to the game field.
- FULL: LB-Trent Cole (rest), CB-Vontae Davis (hamstring), WR-Andre Johnson (rest), OLB-Robert Mathis (rest), OLB-Erik Walden (heel)
-Two injured defensive starters returned to practice on Thursday.