FOCUSED INWARD

The Colts are in third place in the AFC South, two-and-a-half games out of first place. The team never has been so deep in the South standings, but middle linebacker Gary Brackett and Head Coach Tony Dungy said the focus is on something more important: themselves.

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Colts Not Concerned About Rivals or Standings, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – The standings aren't a big concern to Gary Brackett.

Brackett, the Colts' starting middle linebacker and defensive captain said Monday while the Colts are well aware of their position in the AFC South a month into the season, and while that position is unfamiliar, it's not the focus as the team exits its bye week.

The Colts are in third place in the division.

They are two and a half games out of first place.

And while the team never has been so deep in the South standings, or so far from the lead, Brackett and Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said the Colts' focus this week is on something more imant:

Themselves.

"I just worry about one week at a time, one game at a time," Brackett said Monday afternoon as the Colts – who were off Friday, Saturday and Sunday with their lone bye week of the season – prepared for an afternoon practice session at the Indiana Farm Bureau Credit Union.

"I think everything by Week 12, Week 14 will kind of sort itself out. Right now, we just have to focus on the Indianapolis Colts and get ourselves better.

"If we do that the division stuff will take care of itself."

The Colts (1-2), a playoff team the past six seasons and the AFC South champions the past five seasons, will visit the Houston Texans (0-3) at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m. They exit the bye two and half games behind unbeaten Tennessee (4-0) and a half game behind Jacksonville (2-2).

The Colts, who lost to Jacksonville, 23-21, at home the week before the bye, until this season never had been more than a game out of first place since the South's 2002 inception.

"I'm not worried about that so much as I am about us," Dungy said. "We certainly don't want to go 1-3 and we don't want to have two division losses back-to-back and get behind the eight ball that way. We just have to start playing better. You can't control how anybody else is – and, as I say, Tennessee is playing great right now – but our concern is more getting ourselves playing great, then we'll be in good shape.

"We have to start playing better and all of that will take care of itself."

The Colts practiced Monday afternoon, and following an off day for players Tuesday, they will return to practice Wednesday and Thursday for full-scale preparation for Houston.

"We just need to practice real well and come out and have a good game," Dungy said. "We haven't played a sharp 60-minute game yet this year and I think we're going to need that to go down and win. I think going on the road, our players will realize that, that we don't have the home advantage, so we have to go prepare to play a tough game and win a tough game on the road."

Dungy, who urged players to take the past weekend to get away from football, focus on family and relax, said he watched several games around the NFL Sunday, and said he noticed basically the same thing he typically notices on the bye week – that the fundamentally-sound, mistake-free teams are often the teams winning.

"What you see is the teams that are really playing sharp and not beating themselves and minimizing mistakes and not turning the ball over, that's who's winning," Dungy said, adding that the Titans "have been as impressive as anybody I've seen all year.

"They're not turning the ball over. They're playing really hard on defense, and making it tough for the other team to score. Consequently, they're 4-0. That's what we want to gear into, and see if we can get back to playing that way."

The Colts, who started 13-0, 9-0 and 7-0 the past three seasons, respectively, haven't been under .500 after three games since 1998, quarterback Peyton Manning's rookie season. They also started the 2003 season 5-0, but Brackett said a slower start than usual doesn't make this week a time for panic or drastic changes.

"It's a fine line between losing the game and winning the game," Brackett said. "It's not a situation where you just want to throw away everything you have been doing for the last couple of years and go with a new formula. That's not it.

"The formula we have works. We just have to execute it a little bit better."

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