Colts Focused on More Than Rest During 2010 Bye Week
INDIANAPOLIS – As Peyton Manning sees it, a bye is more than a bye.
Manning, in his 13th season as the Colts' quarterback, said Wednesday while Colts are off this week and won't play until a key division home game against Houston November 1, this week remains key – and for more imant reasons than the important reason of getting rest.
Yes, the bye is about resting, Manning said.
And yes, the Colts do need rest.
But Manning and Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell each said Wednesday the bye week is a time for improving, and toward that end, the Colts need to use that time.
"I think we need to take advantage of this week," Manning said following a late-morning, early-afternoon practice at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"During the times we are practicing, we need to try to get better. You always use the bye week to work on some things that maybe you're not doing so well, things you can improve on."
The Colts (4-2) share the lead in the AFC South with Houston and Tennessee, and through six games, those three teams are tied with Baltimore for the AFC's fourth-best record. The New York Jets lead the AFC at 5-1, with Pittsburgh and New England each 4-1.
The Colts, who have won four of five games since a season-opening 34-24 loss at Houston, enter the bye ranked second in the NFL in total offense and second in the NFL in passing. They are ranked 21st in the NFL in total defense, 14th against the pass.
They also are improved from last season in the running offense, where they rank 24th in the NFL after ranking 31st and 32nd the last two seasons.
Manning, the NFL's Most Valuable Player the past two seasons and four of the last seven, is the NFL's second-rated passer behind Michael Vick and the top-rated passer among quarterbacks who have played in all of their team's games.
Manning has completed 171 of 254 passes for 1,916 yards and 13 touchdowns with two interceptions, for a passer rating of 103.4.
And as well as the Colts have played at times, Caldwell on Wednesday spoke of a theme on which he has touched throughout the early part of the season – the need for consistency – and said in a sense the week off isn't a week off at all.
"We have this week as a week where we're really focusing in on ourselves, and trying to make sure we put ourselves in a position to get better this week," Caldwell said. "It's not a week where we can afford to take time off.
"The guys who are able to practice and go, we have to really focus on trying to make certain guys are moving forward. Next week we'll start to really hone a little more on Houston."
Manning said the Colts also are using the bye as an opportunity to heal, with Caldwell saying earlier this week the bye came at a good time for the team. Several players missed a 27-24 victory over Washington with injuries, including wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (ankle), running back Donald Brown (hamstring), cornerback Jacob Lacey (foot), safety Bob Sanders (biceps) and linebacker Kavell Conner (foot).
Running back Joseph Addai left the game with a shoulder injury.
"Certainly part of the bye week is to get some rest," Manning said. "Hopefully, anybody who is banged up can get healed up. We have a tough stretch of football starting next week.
"It's a combination: work when we work and rest when we rest."
The Colts are scheduled to play host to the Texans on Monday Night Football November 1, after which they will visit Philadelphia followed by a home game against Cincinnati, a road game at New England, home games against San Diego and Dallas and a road game at Tennessee.
The Texans also have a bye week before the November 1 game.
"We certainly know how important a game it is," Manning said of the Monday Night match-up against the Texans. "Houston's off also, so there won't be anything new to study with them. We're pretty familiar with them. We know how important a game it will be.
"But this week, and we've talked about it in the past, we just try to improve the Colts if we can. We just focus on things we can do to get better."
Said Caldwell, "The most important one is the next one. Obviously, we know this is a big one because of the fact that it's in the division and a team that's playing extremely well. We have to get ready and get ready to play well."
*Caldwell addressed an off-field incident involving punter Pat McAfee as follows, "We're certainly collecting information on it, but we're certainly not pleased. We're very disappointed in what happened. Once we have all the information in hand, we'll certainly take action at that time."
*With rookie safety Brandon King being placed on injured reserve, Caldwell said the safety position could be addressed by moving current personnel or signing a free agent. "We have to address it," Caldwell said. "It could be all of the above."
*Caldwell said there is a "possibility" newly-signed running back Andre Brown could be used on kickoffs and/or punt returns. "He's capable," Caldwell said.
*Gonzalez said he's "pretty pleased" with his progress. He has missed the last five games with a high-ankle sprain. "I feel good," Gonzalez said, adding of the Houston game November 1, "That's to be determined, but I do feel good. That's a positive."