PAINT IT BLUE

Curtis Painter saw extended action against Green Bay on Friday night, his first true time with front-liners. He and the offense hit stride in the second quarter with 180 net yards as the club had a 14-10 intermission lead.

INDIANAPOLIS – Colts quarterback Curtis Painter went into Friday night's game against Green Bay knowing he would play into the second half. 

          Painter also figured to get his first real extended playing time with the club's starting unit.  He and the offense did not find much success on three possessions in the opening period. 

          The next 15 minutes was dramatically different, however.

          Painter directed three second-quarter possessions that met with desired results. 

          On the first possession of the period, Painter stood under center at his own 22-yard line.  He fired a 15-yard completion to wide receiver Reggie Wayne two plays later.  Two plays after that he faced a 3rd-and-7 from his 40-yard line, and he found Wayne again for nine yards to convert a second first-down.  The completion came under pressure, and 15 yards was added onto the completion when a defender made contact with Painter's head.  The drive reached the Green Bay 21-yard line, where K-Adam Vinatieri missed a 39-yard field goal.

          Painter's second possession started on his 31-yard line.  In five plays, the Colts had cut a 10-point deficit by seven points.  Following three rushes by running back Joseph Addai and an incompletion, Painter found what he wanted.  From his 43-yard line, Painter spotted Wayne behind the Green Bay secondary for a 57-yard touchdown.  Some confusion in the coverage aided the play, but Painter coolly hit Wayne in stride for the score.

          The final Indianapolis possession of the half started at its 31-yard line with 1:55 remaining.  Painter directed the two-minute offense efficiently, hitting five-of-seven passes for 60 yards on the march.  He completed an 11-yard pass to wide receiver Chris Brooks on 3rd-and-6 from the 35-yard line to extend the drive, then he converted a second third-down with a five-yard completion to Wayne.  Operating from the shotgun with 1:01 remaining, Painter found wide receiver Pierre Garcon deep down the sideline for 36 yards to the Green Bay seven.  Two plays later, he capped the drive by finding Brooks on a seven-yard scoring pass to help the club take a 14-10 halftime lead.

          For the quarter, Indianapolis had 180 net yards on 23 offensive plays.  The club had its first lead of the preseason.  Painter had a productive 30 minutes worth of work.

          "I feel good in the sense that I'm showing some improvement," said Painter.  "Obviously, (I'm) getting better from the game before, just continuing to get better.  That's really all you can ask, I guess.  I feel much better coming out of this one than the other ones."

          Painter directed one series in the second half that ended with a sack-fumble.  For the evening, he was 11-for-21 for 171 yards and two touchdowns.  He had a quarterback rating of 111.4.  Painter was nine-of-15 for 159 yards and two scores in the second quarter.  The touchdown passes were the first for Painter since he tossed a 43-yarder to wide receiver Taj Smith against Buffalo last preseason in Toronto.

          "It felt much better.  We got a little rhythm and to get points on the board was huge," Painter said.  "The two-minute drive at the end of the first half, that was big to score there.  There were a lot of things we did better, but there are things we need to work on.  It was much better today.  My job was easy.  I just threw it to them.  They made the plays.  Pierre (Garcon) made a huge catch.  Reggie (Wayne) made the play on the long one.  Those guys were the ones making the plays.  It was easy on my end."

          Head Coach Jim Caldwell was pleased with the execution and for the way Painter directed the offense.  Caldwell has seen Painter go through the practice labor, and he was happy the quarterback's efforts paid off.

          "He has the talent, it's just a matter of putting it together and being able to perform consistently well," said Caldwell.  "He did that tonight.  He had a good quarterback rating and had a couple of drops that could have made it higher.  He played with the (first) unit for an extended period of time, and he took advantage of the opportunity.  It was a pretty good night."

          Of note about the performance, Caldwell thought Painter stood tough when it mattered.

          "He did.  He hung in there and took their best shot in that regard," said Caldwell.  "They had some pressure on him and he never wavered, never flinched.  He showed he can stand in the pocket and made some big plays, particularly under some difficult circumstances."

          Wayne had six receptions for 105 yards for the game.  He felt good for Painter afterwards.

          "I think he did a real good job," said Wayne.  "He had control of the huddle.  I think guys were motivated to go out there and play good for him.  He had a great week of preparation, and he did a good job tonight."

          Garcon contributed with a key reception to help set up the second touchdown.  He was impressed with Painter's presence and performance.        

          "He read his reads and made great throws," said Garcon.  "He had a lot to deal with, but it's part of the game.  He really did good.  We drove the ball down three times in the second quarter.  It was a good thing, and I'm glad it worked out well.  We ended up ahead at halftime, and that's what we wanted."

          Addai supplemented the passing game with a productive night on the ground.  He enjoyed seeing the offense have a productive second quarter.

          "I think Curtis (Painter) is getting to the point where he's feeling comfortable," said Addai.  "Peyton (Manning) takes all the reps with the ones (first-team) and Curtis kind of has to sit back and watch.  Now he's getting the chance to work with the first group and he's feeling comfortable.  It was good to get the first group rolling.  It's always good when you have positive things going on out there.  It really felt good, and we're looking forward to it moving forward from here."

          For the third-year quarterback, it was not a matter of vindication in the last.  It was just business as usual.

          "That's all it can be.  I will just continue to work and get better and hopefully I can get better and continue to build for next week."

MANNING UPDATE:  Interviewed during the game by Sam Ryan of CBS Sports, Manning addressed three questions:

 On his rehabbing:

"I'm right in the middle of it.  I'm working very hard every single day.  My trainers and my weight coaches have done a great job helping me.  I'm really putting them to work.  Erin Barill, Jon Torine…If you zoom in on them, you'll see some gray hairs on Erin, and if Jon would take his hat off, he's got a nice bald spot right in the middle.  That's because of me, all the work I'm making them do.  But I'm very appreciative.  I have some more left to do.  I still have some time.  I'm going to use that time.  At the appropriate time, I think I'll know what the right decision is with the help of Coach (Jim) Caldwell and the doctors."

On being ready to start the opening game of the season:

"I sure hope so.  I've never missed a game in my entire football career due to an injury since I was 13 years old, and I sure don't want to (miss) week one of the season.  That's my goal is to be out there to play and not just to play, but to play competitively.  I want to be out there to help my team win and if I'm able to do so, I'll be out there.  I'm going to use this valuable time, these next few weeks and see what happens when the time is right."

 On Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt's diagnosis:

"Well, I talked to Coach (Summitt) today actually, and she was in great spirits.  I've been praying for her every day.  I know a lot of people are praying for her.  She may be one of the toughest people I know, and I appreciate her courage.  I admire her for that.  Everybody's pulling for her.  We all love her, and we're pulling hard for her.  Pat Summitt truly is the best."

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