INDIANAPOLIS – Observers of the Colts' practices this week saw some new faces that were added to the roster because of injury matters.
Linebackers Zac Diles and Kevin Bentley were added, along with defensive backs Brandon King and Mike Holmes.
An injury situation trending in a positive direction allowed for the return of a new, old face – that of tight end Dallas Clark.
Clark has missed the last three games after suffering a lower leg injury against Atlanta on November 6. Clark practiced during the week, and he hopes to end that inactive streak on Sunday at Baltimore.
"It's been very exciting to get back out there with my teammates, and just out there in the daily routine," said Clark, who maintains a relentless positive nature. "When you're injured, part of you just feels instantly removed from the team, and it's tough. (I) just took the time necessary for my injury to heal, and it's gone fairly well. I think there are still some question marks, but the time that I've been out there has gone well."
Collisions are a fact of the sport, and they happen from all angles and speeds. The collision that found Clark did so with harm.
"I just took a (hit from a) knee during the Atlanta game, and it's just one of those 'one-in-a- million' types of hits," said Clark. "It was unfortunate. I've taken thousands of those types of hits and nothing has ever happened, but it was kind of perfect force, perfect storm and all of that. It's just one of those things that you just deal with. Any time an injury happens it's always bad timing, so it's just unfortunate. I was happy with how it healed, and I hope to be able to get out there and play on Sunday."
Should Clark be able to play on Sunday, he will be doing it in a venue that holds significance personally and in team history.
Indianapolis triumphed in Baltimore, 17-15, on November 22, 2009. The Colts scored on the opening possession before grinding out a win in a game where points came at a premium. The opening score was a three-yard pass from Peyton Manning to Clark, who made a one-handed, pin-the-ball-to-the-helmet grab before stabbing both feet inbounds. Leaping over photographers squatted along the end line came a split-second later.
The catch was the 321st of his career, establishing a new positional record held previously by Hall-of-Famer John Mackey.
Clark is hopeful to rejoin his teammates in the first return to Baltimore since setting that record. He has observed during the last three games, and Clark feels a few things for the offense have been trending upward.
"I think there have been a lot of positives in the last few weeks to build on, and I think the team has been encouraged by that," said Clark. "It's just our job to kind of keep that momentum. Obviously, it's hard to gain momentum or keep momentum when you're losing, but I think the team has done a good job of focusing on, not the big picture of the record and all that stuff of things that have already happened, but just really keeping a forward-focus on what our opportunities are in front of us and the chances that we have to improve and get better as a team."
Clark has a positive effect on all those around him, even his head coach, who notes Clark's pure love of the sport.
"Dallas (Clark) loves to play," said Caldwell. "He's one of those guys that just loves everything there is about football, period. (He) loves getting his ankles taped, he's one of those guys. He and (Pat) Angerer have some similarities in that regard. It's great to have him out there. He does a great job in terms of leadership and he adds some enthusiasm."
If Clark is on the field, he will be sharing the same huddle with Dan Orlovsky. Orlovsky will be making his second straight start for Indianapolis. Clark shares typical enthusiasm for the possible opportunity. Clark also lauds backup quarterback Curtis Painter for his professionalism in a difficult situation.
"Absolutely (I am)," said Clark of being anxious to work with Orlovsky. "It's been fun just in practice to get some reps with him, and to try to get on the same page as him. He's done a tremendous job of stepping in, and I think he's done a good job of getting the ball out, taking care of it and things like that, everything that you want your quarterback to do.
"It's been unfortunate with how the whole (season) has gone. I think (Curtis) Painter did a phenomenal job, and he did everything the Colts asked of him. I know he's done a great job of handling the situation and just really taking it as a professional and understanding just to keep getting better, keep improving, and he's doing everything like that. It's unfortunate and it's kind of out in the open, but it's just one of those classic cases of this time of year needing everyone, using everyone and trying to get the best (opportunity to win)."