INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts have enjoyed a nice little stretch of games within the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium, but on Sunday the team goes back on the road to one of the more hostile environments in the NFL.
The Colts (5-2) travel to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-4) at Heinz Field, where the "Terrible Towels" fly and the home fans can make it extremely difficult for opposing offenses to operate if they're not properly prepared.
"Pittsburgh's a fun place to play at," Colts head coach Frank Reich said today. "I mean, it's a great football environment as well — tough place to play, hostile environment. Good football team, well-coached, physical team, so we're gonna have to have a great week of practice and play our best game of the year this week."
Fortunately for the Colts, the team has recent experience in a hostile environment from which it can draw — and a successful experience at that.
Back in Week 5, the Colts traveled to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, known across the league as one of the loudest venues around.
In a nationally-televised contest on Sunday Night Football, the Kansas City crowd certainly tried to make its collective voice heard, but a disciplined Colts offense would get the upper hand, as Indy would not be called for a single false start penalty the entire game. Accordingly, Indy flew home with a big 19-13 victory late that night.
"Offensively, Jacoby (Brissett) reminded the guys today that we went to Arrowhead and had like no pre-snap penalties and stuff like that," Reich said. "We've gotta have that same focus, concentration. So you do make parallels that you can draw from and learn from."
A little more time
The Colts will likely wait at least another week before deciding to bring wide receiver Devin Funchess back to practice.
Funchess, signed this offseason as a free agent to be the team's No. 2 receiver, suffered a clavicle injury Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers; he subsequently underwent surgery and was placed on injured reserve.
The plan all along was for the team to utilize one of its two return-from-IR designations on Funchess; once a player returns to practice, the team has 21 days to decide whether to put them back on the active roster or revert them to IR for the rest of the season.
And even though Funchess was technically able to start returning to practice two weeks ago, the team has taken a cautious approach with the receiver.
"He's making great progress," Reich said. "Probably not going to make it out there this week, but he is making good progress."
If the team does decide to move Funchess back to the active roster, the soonest he'd be eligible to play would be Week 11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The NFL's 4 p.m. ET trade deadline on Tuesday came and went with no moves made by the Colts.
In fact, like most other trade deadlines in recent years, there wasn't much movement across the entire league.
There was the element of the unknown this time around as Colts general manager Chris Ballard approached this particular trade deadline with his team in first place in the AFC South Division; did he have interest in possibly pursuing a final complementary piece or two to utilize the final half of the season?
In the end, though, the Colts stood pat with what they had, which was just fine to Reich.
"Yeah — we've got a lot of confidence in our guys. I mean, we have from the start," Reich said when asked Wednesday about what it meant that his team didn't make any deadline moves. "So let's go — we're just ready to go to work."
The Colts' players have the same sentiments. While moves are constantly being made, and some guys come and go, there's solace in the fact that the organization has such a strong belief in the core of the roster moving forward.
"You see things all over ESPN and everything, and people going different places," second-year running back Nyheim Hines said. "But it just shows that the front office has a lot of trust in the people in this locker room, and (Ballard) believes we have the team to win in here."
Here's the full injury report from Wednesday's practice:
» DNP: DT/DE Denico Autry (neck); CB Pierre Desir (hamstring); CB Kenny Moore II (knee); DE Jabaal Sheard (foot); S Khari Willis (foot)
» Limited: DT Carl Davis (hamstring); WR T.Y. Hilton (calf); G/C Quenton Nelson (hip)
» Full: DT/DE Tyquan Lewis (ankle)