Colts Pro Bowl Players Say Team Prepared for Super Bowl Week
MIAMI – With the Colts players who attended the Pro Bowl on Sunday night arrived a clear message.
Tight end Dallas Clark, a first-time Pro Bowl selection and one of seven Colts players named to the game this season, said Colts players felt on Sunday night about next weekend's Super Bowl much as they did throughout last week.
They feel prepared. Very prepared.
And there's still more preparing to do.
"I think everyone is focused," Clark told ESPN Sunday during the Pro Bowl, which he and several teammates attended as observers at Sun Life Stadium – which also is the site of Super Bowl XLIV. The Colts (16-2), the AFC Champions, will play the NFC Champion New Orleans Saints (15-3) Sunday.
"With the extra week, it was a chance to ignore all of the chaos," Clark added. "We were able to install the game plan in our normal routine. We're able to come down here and just kind of review everything, and just have another good week of preparation."
Clark, the lone first-time Pro Bowl selection on the Colts this season, joined quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Reggie Wayne, center Jeff Saturday, safety Antoine Bethea, defensive end Robert Mathis and defensive end Dwight Freeney as Colts players named to the game this season.
Manning, Clark, Wayne, Mathis and Freeney initially were named as starters.
"I feel good about our start," Manning told ESPN. "I still think you have to use the entire time to get prepared."
Because the Colts will play in the Super Bowl next week, none of the seven participated in the game, nor did the seven Saints players named to the game. Like the Saints players, Colts players selected to the game who were healthy attended the game in accordance with league guidelines.
Freeney, who was listed by the team as questionable with an ankle injury sustained in the Colts' AFC Championship Game victory over the Jets last week, is in Miami undergoing treatment on the injury.
The Colts, after practicing three times last week, practiced Sunday and the team will arrive in South Florida Monday afternoon. The Colts' first media availability is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, and Media Day is scheduled for Tuesday.
The Colts will begin practice in South Florida Wednesday.
"It's imant not to peak too early," Manning said. "Because of the schedule down here in Miami once you get down here, it's important to get your core preparation done during that first week, which we have done. This is a tough team to get to know. You really can't study them enough.
"They give you so many different looks. It's important to use the entire time."
Manning, who never had missed a Pro Bowl the nine previous times he was selected, called being involved with the game an honor.
"This is a fun evening," Manning told ESPN. "We had six of us fly down here today after our practice in Indianapolis. To see all of these guys – great players, guys I've gotten to know over the years playing here – it's fun to be here. It's always fun to play in the game. Obviously, I'm excited that we have a real game next week."
The Colts, like the Saints, played at Sun Life Stadium this season, beating the Miami Dolphins, 27-23, in the second week of the regular season. That was the second of 14 consecutive victories for the Colts to start the season, but Manning said the venue has a different feel in late January.
"When you see it in this environment, it's special tonight, and you know how special it's going to be next week," he said. "It has a different atmosphere, and it gets you excited to be here in the moment."
The Colts also played in the stadium – then known as Dolphin Stadium – in February 2007. They beat the Chicago Bears there in Super Bowl XLI, with Manning being named the game's Most Valuable Player.
"I don't think it's helpful," Manning said. "I don't think staying in the same hotel helps you stop Drew Brees and their passing attack. I'm excited to back. I think we're playing on a level playing field.
"It's a great venue for it. They have great football history down here. We're just excited to be a part of it."