CALDWELL READIES TEAM FOR FRIDAY
INDIANAPOLIS – When Head Coach Jim Caldwell stood at the podium in the media workroom at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on Monday afternoon, he and the team already were in Wednesday mode.
On the NFL calendar this week, Monday is Wednesday because Sunday is Friday. Such is the life during preseason.
The Colts host Green Bay on Friday night at Lucas Oil Stadium at 8:00 p.m. ET in the third preseason game for each team. The third preseason week in the NFL is the one that is approached like a regular-season game. Each team likely will play its starters into the third quarter.
With the regular-season approach for the week, today replicated a Wednesday for Indianapolis. The team meeting took place early in the day. It was followed by positional meetings, a morning walk-through and a lunch period when players also met with media on hand.
When Caldwell assumed his position behind the podium, it truly Sfelt like a Wednesday.
The topic of the day was the club's quarterback situation as the preseason schedule hit the halfway point.
Quarterbacks Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky have taken the bulk of the snaps during the first two games. One training camp quarterback, Nate Davis, was released a week ago and the other signal-caller on the active roster is rookie free agent Mike Hartline.
Veteran quarterback and four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list after having neck surgery in May. Caldwell was asked about Manning's status and that of the position, specifically being queried on Manning indicating over the weekend that he would not play in preseason.
"I think he laid out pretty well where he is and that's he's working extremely hard and trying to get back as quickly as he possibly can," said Caldwell. "It's not a situation where this is the first time that we've ever spoken to or monitored him. We've been watching things as they progressed. He's going to work hard to try to get back and get ready, and he's doing everything he can to do so."
With no pinpointed date for Manning's return, Caldwell is doing what a coach does – coach.
"It does not leave you many choices," he said. "You have to prepare with the folks you have, put your scheme together, (your) game-plan together, build it around individuals you have at this point in time and keep moving."
Painter has opened both preseason games for the Colts. He played the first two series against St. Louis on August 13, leading one scoring drive. He played through the first half of last week's home game against Washington. For the outings, Painter has hit eight-of-16 passes for 95 yards. He played with the front-line wide receivers at St. Louis, but Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and Austin Collie all missed the outing against the Redskins. Orlovsky played six possessions at St. Louis before leading the team the entire second half last week. Orlovsky has hit 11-of-27 passes for 178 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Caldwell was asked about the plan for this Friday.
"We have our guys that are here that understand what we're doing," he said. "We're trying to get them better all the time. I don't think there's any question about that. Curtis (Painter) is learning, but he also has ability. We fully well think he has the ability to get the job done. He's just got to be able to do it. It's coming along…What you want to see is consistency. That's the thing we're looking for, all across the board. I think he's already shown he can move the ball. He just hasn't been able to do it consistently, and that's what he's working on. He needs some help, too. This week he'll get a great opportunity, I think, to really focus in on the opposition and we'll see how he does. He's always seemed to measure up in situations like this."
Still a young quarterback, Painter is focused on what he needs to do with his upcoming opportunity against Green Bay.
"I don't really look at it as having to prove anything to anybody," said Painter. "I want to do good, and I improved from the week before. At the same time, I want to show my teammates and coaches that they can put that confidence in me and that I can continue to get better from the week before. That's really my focus."
Painter is not putting any added effort into this game. He is taking the same approach as before, with his preparation being just as meticulous as it was before.
"I don't think that there should be any more emphasis," said Painter. "That kind of says the last two games weren't important if you say that. With a little more playing time, I think it will be good to hopefully get out there, get in a rhythm and get rolling. Obviously, getting that experience will be good. Getting those extra snaps will be good for me.
"I feel ready. The good thing is we still have a couple of weeks (where we're) technically still in camp mode. (I) still have a couple of weeks to prepare. We're still getting better, still improving."
Key Colts veterans have seen Painter perform as only teammates do, and many have voiced approval and support for him. Tight end Dallas Clark was one of those veterans who spoke highly of Painter during training camp at Anderson University. He reiterated his feelingson Painter Monday.
"He's been a great professional…He's learned a lot and these preseason games are a huge, huge benefit for him to see things he doesn't sitting on the sidelines watching," said Clark. "You have to experience it to see it. Each rep he gets, he's only going to get better. We look for continuous improvement from everyone. That's why these preseason games, not only for Curtis, but just the rookies, the younger guys, the veterans, it's real important to get these reps and improve from them."
A key bit of advice stressed to players by the organization is to listen to the voices inside the organization. Painter is observing that approach and working on improving.
"My focus is to improve myself, get better and put myself in a (better) position…Just kind of improve and get better on my own is my focus," he said.