INDIANAPOLIS – The buzz of playoff football entered the Colts indoor facility on Wednesday afternoon as the practice week began.
While the Colts injury list heading into the postseason is a bit long, only one starter missed action on Wednesday.
Here are a few sound bites from Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck on Wednesday:
Chuck Pagano on the changes he's seen in the Bengals:
"They are doing a lot of things we didn't see in the first game, a lot of unbalanced stuff, some Wildcat stuff…a lot of different formations."
Bowen's Analysis:* *More of a running commitment from the Bengals is the clear focal point this week but Pagano touched on a few other areas that Cincinnati has changed since Week Seven.
With or without Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green in the lineup (Green did not practice Wednesday under the concussion protocol), the Bengals offense has some unique weapons. Running back Jeremy Hill has gotten headlines this week but fellow running back Giovanni Bernard can be a major threat in a third-down role. Tight end Jermaine Gresham is a bigger body who caught 10 passes in the team's first meeting this year. Also, the Bengals have used a Wildcat formation lately with receiver Mohamed Sanu (3-for-3 for 79 yards) at quarterback.
Andrew Luck on what the playoffs mean to him:
"I think the big time players step up and make plays.
"I know our playmakers are going to step up and make plays."
Bowen's Analysis: While Luck would never outwardly label himself as a "playmaker", he is (whether he says it or not). For the Colts to survive past Monday, Luck is going to have to play at the level we saw earlier this season.
Luck seemed at ease on Wednesday fielding questions about quarterback legacies and the "need" to make a playoff run. The Pro Bowler talked about how just making the playoffs is never good enough inside the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. Luck's playoff resume will be critiqued every year, but on Wednesday he sounded like a guy fully entrenched into another week of prep, albeit with some higher stakes involved this weekend.Andrew Luck on playing at home to start the postseason:
"I remember the environment last year was electric.
"The crowd played a bigger factor than they know in that game."
Bowen's Analysis: For the second straight year, the home faithful at Lucas Oil Stadium will watch their team in the playoffs. There was no doubt last year that as the Colts began their comeback, the home crowd played a role in massive second half confusion for the Chiefs offense.
If the Colts are able to win on Sunday, their path to the Super Bowl would likely take them to two of the more difficult places to win in the NFL (New England and Denver). In seven of the last nine playoffs, at least one Wild Card team has made it to the Super Bowl, despite having to take their act on the road at least once to get there.INJURY NOTES
Here is the injury report for Wednesday:
-DNP- Josh Cribbs (rest), A.Q. Shipley (ankle) and Hugh Thornton (shoulder).
-With Thornton missing practice, that would open up a spot at right guard heading into this weekend.
-LIMITED- Gosder Cherilus (groin), Erik Walden (knee), Reggie Wayne (groin) and Bjoern Werner (shoulder).
-Pagano said that after Cherilus did some initial work with the trainers, he got into the lineup at practice for a few plays.
-FULL- Dwayne Allen (knee), Jerell Freeman (hamstring) and Joe Reitz (ankle)>
-Good to see Allen and Freeman return as full participants this early in the week. Reitz is certainly an option at either spot of the right side of the line.