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Practice Notebook: Facing a 'heck of a challenge' with Buccaneers coming to town, Colts secondary is ready to step up

So far this season, the Colts are 1-4 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The last home game they won came in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans.

1123 Notebook

This Sunday, the Colts enter the most pivotal stretch of their season. At 5-5, they remain in the thick of the AFC playoff race, making their final seven games even more critical.

So, getting to kick things off against the 4-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lucas Oil Stadium should give the team a home-field advantage, right?

Prior to the bye week, that hadn't been the case.

They're 1-4 at home so far this season, with their lone win coming in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans. Their losses have been to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints. With the exception of the Jaguars game, all of the losses were by single digits.

"I've always felt like great teams, great defenses perform the best at home. I truly feel that way, but I do love that we're road dogs," linebacker Zaire Franklin said. "Honestly, we just got a couple of bad falls, I'm gonna leave the word 'calls' out of this - but a couple of things didn't go our way in a couple of these home games - a couple of overtime losses."

Between their hopes of keeping their playoff hopes alive and wanting to protect their home turf, tight end Kylen Granson said that Sunday's game has a lot riding on it.

"There's a lot of implications that follow every game, especially once you start getting further into the season," Granson said. "But yeah, we're 5-5 right now, but we're pretty much 0-0 by that math. We gotta get on a run if we want to make it into the postseason, so it definitely has an added sense of urgency to it."

Getting out of that slump may be easier said than done as they prepare to take on a Buccaneers squad that is hungry to secure a playoff spot of their own.

Boasting a potent offense that features Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Colts' head coach Shane Steichen said the game will be a good test for the young secondary.

"It'll be a heck of a challenge. They're a good offense. Baker (Mayfield) is playing good football right now, like you said Mike Evans and (Chris) Godwin, they're good receivers. We got to be on it, we got to have tight coverage on those guys," Steichen said. "We can't let them create the explosive plays down the field because they're definitely capable of it. We got to stay on top and maintain disciplined eyes on the backend and rush together with the defensive line."

Rookie cornerback Jaylon Jones will be right in the thick of things as he is just days away from lining up across from the talented tandem for the first time.

Unfazed by the Buccaneers' experience advantage, Jones said he is confident that the Colts' secondary has what it takes to slow them down.

"They got talent over there and are a veteran group, but it's all about us," Jones said. "We got to come out there and just be on the small details. Go out there get the win and get the job done."

Thursday's practice report:

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