Colts Maintaining Focus Entering Game Against Bengals, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Dungy said the issue hasn't been an issue at all.
With observers asking throughout this week if the Colts would be focused enough on the Cincinnati Bengals, Dungy – in his seventh season as the Colts' head coach – said there have been plenty of reasons for the team to maintain the level that has enabled it to win its past five games.
One is the Colts' status in the AFC wild-card chase.
Another is the talent level of their opponent.
Still another, Dungy said, is that most around the Colts believe that despite the winning streak, there are plenty of areas that still must improve.
"I think our offense, especially, wasn't happy with last week's performance (in a 10-6 victory over Cleveland)," Dungy said Friday as the Colts (8-4) prepared to play the Bengals (1-10-1) at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.
"They've been very dialed in and very focused, and then defensively, I think we see that with (Bengals wide receivers) Chad (Ocho Cinco) and (T.J.) Houshmandzadeh, guys who have been to the Pro Bowl; (Cedric) Benson was the fourth pick in the draft; we've played against this big offensive line before . . . You see some of the guys they have.
"We know the talent level, so we have been pretty good all week."
The Colts hold the AFC's fifth seed over Baltimore (8-4) because of a superior conference record and because of a 31-3 victory over Baltimore in early October, with Baltimore and Indianapolis each a game ahead of New England (7-5) and Miami (7-5) in the wild-card standings.
The Colts, after slipping to 3-4 in late October, have moved into that position with a five-game winning streak in which each game was decided by six points or loss. Indianapolis has trailed in each game, and four times the Colts trailed in the second half.
"It's a different feel than maybe '05, when you're winning by two scores (every week) and it seems like things are going your way," Dungy said. "Even then, you knew how tough it was, and how the preparation came into play, but the fact that all of these games have been tight and have been fourth-quarter decisions, I think that does help.
"It's probably good from a coaching standpoint, because you are winning. You're making progress in the standings, but you have things you can correct every week. You still have their attention.
"It's probably the best of all worlds."
Also Friday, the Colts released their third and final injury reof the week, with middle linebacker Gary Brackett (fibula) and defensive tackle Keyunta Dawson (hamstring) ruled out for Sunday, while running back Joseph Addai (knee), wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (shoulder), linebacker Tyjuan Hagler (knee), safety Bob Sanders (knee) and center Jeff Saturday (calf) were listed as questionable.
Brackett and Dawson were injured against Cleveland last week and did not practice this week, nor did Hagler, while Addai and Gonzalez were added to the injury report on Friday. Addai practiced on a limited basis on Friday and Gonzalez did not practice.
Sanders and Saturday, neither of whom practiced on Wednesday or Thursday, returned to practice on a full-scale basis Friday.
Antoine Bethea, a starting safety who missed Wednesday and Thursday for not injury related/resting reasons, returned to practice Friday and likely will play Sunday, Dungy said. Hagler has not been ruled out, Dungy said.
Cornerback Kelvin Hayden, who missed practice Thursday because of illness, returned to practice on a full-scale basis Friday.