Dealing With Adversity Part of the Norm in NFL, Caldwell Says
INDIANAPOLIS – In a sense, the situation is hardly unusual.
Jim Caldwell, in his second season as the Colts' head coach, said while the team is facing injury issues as it moves forward from the 2010 bye week, the difficult reality of the NFL is few teams in any season don't face similar situations.
Injuries? Difficult stretches?
They're far more the norm than they are noteworthy, Caldwell said.
"Everybody's in tough shape," Caldwell said Monday, seven days before the Colts (4-2) will play host to the Houston Texans (4-2) in a key AFC South game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 1.
Caldwell cited Sunday's game between Green Bay and Minnesota, a game in which Green Bay at times had offensive linemen playing defensive line because of injuries.
"It's not anything that's unique to our location," Caldwell said. "You have to deal with this every year. I call it the Gideon Principle. In this league, you get pared down to the absolute bare minimum.
"You see who can stand tall and who can function in the present circumstances."
The Colts last week announced tight end Dallas Clark is out for the season and will be placed on injured reserve with a wrist injury, with wide receiver Austin Collie and defensive tackle Antonio Johnson undergoing thumb and knee surgeries, respectively.
"My job is to win – plain and simple," Caldwell said. "I don't get concerned about things I cannot control. I have to deal with the here and now – what we have, what we have to play with. We have plenty of talent. We have more than enough to get it done.
"That's what we try to focus in on."
Colts center Jeff Saturday said while the absence of Clark and Collie is disappointing, the team historically has played through injuries and maintained a high level of play.
That, he said, will be critical again.
"I don't think there's a lot you can do to change," Saturday said. "Your offense is what it is. Obviously, it hurts to lose two players who produce the way they do, but whoever is up behind him has to come in and play well. That's something we've built ourselves on here."
The Colts enter Week 8 tied for second in the AFC South, a half game behind Tennessee (5-2), which rallied in the second half on Sunday to beat Philadelphia, 37-19. The Titans play San Diego (2-5) at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego Sunday.
The Colts, who have won six of the last seven AFC South titles, have lost their first two division games – at Houston in the regular-season opener and at Jacksonville in Week 4.
"There's no question about it – it's been a very, very tough division for a number of years," Caldwell said. "This year is no different. It's one where every team has talent, ability – 'Any Given Sunday,' as the old saying guys. I don't see anything different than our division has been for quite some time.
"They run the ball well. They play good defense. And they have excellent kicking games. In all areas, in our division you'd better be on top of your game when you play them. The opposition certainly will be."
The Texans, like the Colts, had this past weekend off, and Caldwell said he wasn't sure how each team having a bye entering a Monday Night game would impact the match-up.
"It's never easy in this league," Caldwell said. "There's nothing that makes it easier. It's always a challenge. Oftentimes you find that maybe a team that played the week before when you have a bye, from a physical standpoint, you may have gotten an opunity to get a little more rest. In that particular case, there is no advantage gained.
"We both obviously had the bye, and that would be the only time I would think there would be a difference – when one team plays and one team does not."
Also on Monday:
*Caldwell said with punter Pat McAfee suspended for the Houston game, it's uncertain who will assume McAfee's other duties. He said kicker Adam Vinatieri remains an option for kickoffs. "It just depends," Caldwell said. "We have a week to kind of work our way through that, to kind of see what best suits our guys. We know he (Vinatieri) can do it – no question about that – but it has not been determined as of yet." Caldwell said tight end Jacob Tamme and backup quarterback Curtis Painter are possibilities to hold for placement kicks. "We have a number of guys who have done it," Caldwell said.
*Caldwell also said it's uncertain who will handle kick and punt return duties, and said newly-signed Andre Brown is among the candidates. "He's a capable guy who can do some things," Caldwell said. "We'll work that out as the week goes on."
*Caldwell said the Colts will look at Houston's recent games when game-planning this week, but also will take into consideration a 34-24 loss to the Texans in the regular-season opener. "You look at all of it," Caldwell said. "You take it all into consideration. You certainly look at the more recent ones, obviously, because a team does indeed evolve and change throughout the year. Injuries force you to do certain things. Your personality may change a little bit. You may lean on one side of the ball more so than the other, so we have to look at the most recent games before anything else. But we also have to take into account that obviously they played pretty well against us in that first ballgame. You would not anticipate they were going to go deviate a whole lot from what they've done. You're going to see some of it at least – some of the game plan they put together in that first game, I would assume."
*Caldwell said while watching games Sunday he didn't see a huge difference in the approach of defensive players in the wake of warnings from the NFL regarding flagrant and dangerous hits. "I didn't sense a lot of guys playing differently," Caldwell said. "There may have been a couple of times you thought you saw evidence of it, because you really don't know. At that point in time, I'm sitting in my living room. I'm like an analyst. You can make a guess in terms of what they were thinking, but you really don't know. I thought the games were played like they typically are – pretty clean. Guys were running to the ball and doing what they normally do."