Caldwell Pleased as Colts Near End of Super Bowl XLIV Preparation
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. – Two days away, Jim Caldwell said he likes the feeling.
Caldwell, in his first season as the Colts' head coach, on Friday spoke to the nation's media in the annual Super Bowl coaches press conference, updating the status of defensive end Dwight Freeney and thanking those involved with planning for the game.
He also spoke of the Colts' preparation, readiness and focus on Sunday's game.
He said he likes all three.
"Everything has gone well," Caldwell said as the AFC Champion Colts (16-2) prepared to play the NFC Champion New Orleans Saints (15-3) in Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium Sunday at 6:25 p.m.
"We're looking forward to the next few days in preparation for the game."
That preparation, ongoing since a 30-17 AFC Championship Game victory over the New York Jets on January 24, continued on Friday afternoon with the team's third practice of the week at the Miami Dolphins' training facility – a practice that included wide receiver Reggie Wayne aggravating a knee injury, one Caldwell said was not serious.
"He just irritated the fat pad in his knee," Caldwell said.
According to a Pro Football Writer's Association pool re, Wayne pulled up short running a pass-route late in the workout and left practice 20 minutes before it ended. He walked off the field unassisted.
Also on Friday, cornerback Jerraud Powers returned to practice on a limited basis and Freeney – who hasn't practiced since the AFC Championship Game – missed practice again.
According to the pool report, Caldwell said Freeney "may do'' a little running or simulated practice work later Friday afternoon.
"This is right in line with our plans," Caldwell said.
The Colts will finish preparations with a 40-minute walkthrough Saturday at noon.
Caldwell's meeting with the media Friday was his last until the Super Bowl, and he said the rest of the Colts' weekend before the game will be spent in as close to a normal routine as possible. The routine, Caldwell said, will be much the same as it was in the days leading to the Colts' victory over Chicago in Super Bowl XLI, which means as close to the team's normal pregame routine as is manageable.
"We haven't deviated much from what we had done previously," Caldwell said. "I don't believe in changing things, just for the sake of change. We've talked about focus and we've talked about the little things in terms of trying to keep distractions out of the way and particularly out of our preparation.
"I think our guys have done a great job with that."
Because of the bigness of the Super Bowl, Caldwell said keeping a routine is critical.
"This game is so big," Caldwell said. "It's gotten so much attention obviously that you can sometimes get out of whack and think you have to do things differently – a little extra time and things of that nature. We don't believe that's required.
"We try to keep things as close to normal as we possibly can. . . . It really isn't anything different than we would normally do on a game weekend."
Caldwell said the hours leading to the game, waiting in a hotel, aren't as nerve-wracking as many might believe, and that the key is to not vary what a player would do normally.
"If a guy ate a pizza on Thursday night, then he should've eaten a pizza," Caldwell said. "If a guy relaxes and takes a nap on Friday afternoon, then he ought to take a nap. We try to stay as close as we possibly can. It's not a long wait.
"Nevertheless, I think that they'll be able to manage it and I think we will."
Caldwell on Friday also spoke of his first meeting with the team as head coach, on March 16, the opening of the team's offseason program. Caldwell said he promised that day the Colts would be a hungry, fresh, well-prepared team.
"I think we did that in terms of the regular season and I do believe we started that way in terms of the playoffs," he said. "Now, my mission and goal is to have that same type of fire and enthusiasm, obviously, for Sunday's game.
"That won't take a lot of prodding. The guys are ready to play and they're certainly focused."
Caldwell also Friday discussed the magnitude of Sunday's game.
"It's a great opportunity, there's no question about that," Caldwell said. "It's so tough and difficult to get to this point and when you do get to this point, obviously one of the things that you have to make certain of is that you do everything to give yourself the best chance to win.
"For us, it's getting a (chance to win) a second one here in the last four years, which would be tremendous for our owner (Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay) and for our city as well. The city of Indianapolis has certainly embraced our team. Our team is committed to the city. The city is committed to us.
"Our owner is committed to the city. I think all of those things are indeed a factor."