INDIANAPOLIS — After a long, hard training camp, four preseason contests and 10 grueling regular season games, the Indianapolis Colts finally get a little break.
After going over the film from Sunday's last-second loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano on Monday sent his players home to enjoy their bye week, which has arrived this season a little later than usual. Indianapolis is one of four teams — along with the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and the San Francisco 49ers — with a Week 11 bye, the NFL's latest this season.
And while the Colts players certainly are welcoming the thought of having a few days away, they can't help but take a look back at the first 10 games of the season — and their 3-7 record to this point — and try to figure out what they can do to turn the tide when they return next week to begin preparations for their final six games of the season.
"It's just little details," left tackle Anthony Castonzo told reporters on Monday. "I feel like we've been really close in a lot of games that could have gone either way. And you usually want those games that can go either way to go your way, so it all comes down to those little details, little technique things and not trying to do too much."
Chester Rogers, one of the stars of the near-upset of the AFC North Division-leading Steelers on Sunday, agrees with the sentiment of his fellow offensive teammate.
"Everybody's encouraged," said Rogers, who had a career-best 104 yards receiving and his first-career touchdown against Pittsburgh. "We took a loss [to the Steelers] but we've just got to stay at it, man. We feel like we can win the next six, so one game at a time."
Waiting for the Colts on the other side of their bye week is division rival Tennessee, which will visit Lucas Oil Stadium on Nov. 26, three days after Thanksgiving.
The Titans, who currently are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars atop the AFC South Division at 6-3, currently have their attention turned towards a short week and their *Thursday Night Football *matchup against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
One can imagine most Colts players will be watching that game on Thursday, and then they'll put on the film from their previous game against the Titans, a 36-22 Week 6 loss in Nashville on Monday Night Football that was one of five games this season in which Indianapolis has gone into halftime with the lead — or at least tied — and couldn't close the door in the second half.
Revenge is on the mind of rookie cornerback Nate Hairston, who will heed the advice of Pagano to "get away from the building" during his bye week, but will "still stay engaged" in terms of the team's mission for the rest of the season.
"You should come back Monday with some type of knowledge on Tennessee, but also get away from the building and away from football, a little bit," Hairston said.
For ninth-year safety Darius Butler, figuring out the bye week balance is nothing new.
"Really relaxing and really have time to take a step back and see everything for what it is at this point," are Butler's goals for his six days away. "Look at some film, get my body back right, spend some time with my family and just come back ready to work."
Other players said they're relaxing in different ways this week. Quarterback Scott Tolzien will be traveling around the Midwest to visit his family, as well as his wife's. Cornerback Rashaan Melvin is taking his toddler son and his girlfriend to Disney Land.
And even though the Colts have the latest bye week in the league this year, Castonzo said the schedule makers actually did him a favor.
"I've got a wedding to go to," he said. "It actually worked out perfectly. Some of my friends are having their wedding this weekend so it's perfect."