IMPROVEMENT NEEDED

Even though the Colts' running game has struggled at times this season, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said the area isn't far from being effective. Dungy on Friday compared the running game this season to the run defense in 2006, which improved drastically in the postseason.

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Running Game Not Far from Being Effective, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Dungy can see the potential.

And even though the Colts' running game has yet to quite fulfill that this season, Dungy – in his seventh season as the team's head coach – is confident it will soon.

And when it happens, Dungy said it could happen in a big way.

"It wouldn't surprise me if we have some breakout games – some 150-, 160-yard games, because we are very close," Dungy said Friday, a day after the Colts clinched a seventh consecutive playoff appearance with a 31-24 victory in Jacksonville.

"We just can't try to do a lot of new stuff. We can't look at it like we have a major problem. We just have just sharpen up on the things we've done since training camp and I think it will come."

The Colts rank 31st in the NFL in rushing at 76.9 yards per game, and against Jacksonville, they rushed for 32 yards on 18 carries.

Dungy on Friday compared the Colts' running game to the run defense in 2006. That season, the Colts ranked 32nd in the NFL against the run in the regular season, but averaged allowing less than 100 yards per game in a four-game postseason run to the Super Bowl title.

"It's very much like our run defense a couple of years ago," Dungy said. "I keep telling people, 'It's not that far off. We're close, but we have to get all 11 guys on every play consistently."

Dungy said the Jaguars game typified some of the issues facing the running game recently. On one play, the Colts had a 21-yard run negated by penalty. In another situation, a receiver missed a signal, which allowed a cornerback to come free in the hole and stop the play.

"It's just one little thing after another that puts you in tough positions," Dungy said. "We've just got to work. It's not that far off, but it's not pretty right now.

"It can be if we get some of those little things corrected."

A TIME TO REST: Because the Colts cannot finish higher than the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs, Dungy said the Colts likely will take a similar approach to past seasons in the regular season finale on December 28.

In past seasons, the Colts have rested some players late in the season when their playoff seeding had been determined.

I don't think we'll scale back too much," Dungy said. "The one thing we will do is we'll protect the guys who are a little bit nicked up. The guys who are iffy probably won't play. We definitely want to win. We'd like to get to 12 (victories). We'd like to not have our division teams think they can beat us. In that regard, it will be a big game.

"We'll see how it goes as the week progresses. We'd like to play to win and get ourselves ready for the following week. . . . I know our guys want to play. They'd like to keep performing, so we'll see. It's a little too early to tell yet. We'll try to be smart and try to win at the same time."

ETC., ETC.: The Colts did not sustain any significant injuries against Jacksonville, Dungy said. "We didn't have anyone that wouldn't have been able to finish the game, so that was a good sign," Dungy said. Dungy said start running back Joseph Addai (shoulder) was cleared to play Thursday, but that once the game began, running backs coach Gene Huey decided to stay with Rhodes. "I think Joseph is going to be good for us down the stretch," Dungy said. Dungy said wide receiver Marvin Harrison has discomfort behind his knee, with an MRI revealing the situation is in his lower hamstring area. "We'll see how that heals up," Dungy said. "If there's any question at all – if he's not 100 percent – we won't play him (against Tennessee). We'll see how he is once Tuesday comes." . . . The Colts did not commit a turnover against Jacksonville, the fifth time this season they have finished a game without an interception or losing a fumble. "Our offense really takes a lot of pride in that, and frankly, that's what kind of short-circuited us early in the year," Dungy said. "We had some critical turnovers against Chicago and Green Bay, and we had a big turnover against Jacksonville that's at least a 10-point swing. When we don't do that, we move the ball well and we're hard to stop. No turnovers and no sacks was good (Thursday) night. . . . I think our guys take a lot of pride in taking care of the ball and protecting the quarterback.'' . . . Colts players will be off until Monday, returning to practice Tuesday and Wednesday before having Thursday – Christmas – off. They will then return to practice Friday in preparation for the regular-season finale against Tennessee Sunday. . . . Dungy will be in Orlando on Saturday to watch the Tampa Plant Panthers play Tallahassee Lincoln High School for the Class 4A Florida state championship. His son, Eric, is a sophomore safety for Plant. . . . The RCA Dome, the Colts' home stadium from 1984-2007, will be imploded on Saturday. "It was pretty special," Dungy said of the dome. "For Indianapolis to build that facility without having a team and to attract a team here – really, that was the start of the Colts' history here. You have to commend the leadership of the city. Then, for it to be our home for six of the seven years I've been here – we had some special games in there. It became a great homefield advantage for us and there are some great, great memories. In a way, I'll be sad to see that."

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