Aside from Brackett, Most Colts Players Ready for Saturday, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts won't go into the playoffs 100 percent healthy.
But Head Coach Tony Dungy said despite the likely absence of their starting middle linebacker, the Colts might not be far off.
Gary Brackett, the Colts' starting middle linebacker and defensive captain, likely will not practice this week, Dungy said Monday. Dungy also said the team sustained an injury or two on the offensive line in Sunday's regular-season finale against Tennessee.
But other than that, Dungy said the Colts are fairly healthy entering the postseason.
"We had a couple of guys get nicked up in the game," Dungy said Monday afternoon as the Colts (12-4) began preparing to play the AFC West Champion San Diego Chargers (8-8) in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Cal., Saturday at 8 p.m.
Among those players was wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, who Dungy said sustained a hip pointer early, but who Dungy said "should be OK."
Rookie backup Jamey Richard and rookie starting guard Mike Pollak (ankle) also sustained injuries Sunday, Dungy said.
"Other than that, we should have everybody going and ready to go," Dungy said.
Brackett, who started the first 12 games of the season, has missed the last four games with a fibula injury. Second-year veteran Buster Davis has started in his place.
With their playoff positioning clinched, the Colts rested several defensive starters on Sunday, deactivating safety Bob Sanders, linebacker Freddy Keiaho and defensive end Dwight Freeney before kickoff. They also deactivated Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis.
Dungy also said he expects Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes each to be healthy entering the game. Addai did not play on December 18 against Jacksonville after sustaining a shoulder injury earlier in the month, but scored on a 55-yard touchdown pass in the victory over Tennessee Sunday. Rhodes, who started against Jacksonville, missed the Tennessee game with a chest injury.
"I think he's going to be fine," Dungy said of Addai. "It was probably good to get him a little activity at game speed. I know he's looking forward to it. I think he's in good shape and ready to go."
SHORT WEEK: The Colts' first-round playoff game being on a Saturday means a shorter week than usual.
Whereas the Colts typically have Mondays off after a victory and Tuesday off regardless of the outcome the previous week, coaches spent Monday preparing for the Chargers and players will return to practice on Tuesday.
The team will practice Wednesday and Thursday then travel to San Diego Friday.
"It takes a day of preparation away, but our guys were prepared for it," Dungy said. "We talked about it after the (Titans) game (Sunday), that there'd be a good chance we'd have to play Saturday.
"We'll practice (Tuesday) and kind of have a normal week's work."
Dungy said because of the short week, the Colts' familiarity with San Diego – and the Chargers' familiarity with the Colts – should "make for a better game."
"You have one less day to prepare, but I don't think that will make a difference, because these teams know each other so well," Dungy said. "You've got a chance to see a well-executed game that should be a good one."
HOWARD NOMINATED: Colts rookie defensive end Marcus Howard has been nominated for the NFL's Rookie of the Week award for Week 17.
Howard, a fifth-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft from the University of Georgia, recorded seven tackles and 1.5 sacks and forced a fumble against Tennessee.
Fans can vote for the award at www.nfl.com/partner?partnerType=rookies. Voting is now open, and will remain open until this Wednesday at 6 p.m.
NEXT SEASON'S OPPONENTS: The Colts' opponents for 2009 have been determined, with the team scheduled to play one 2008 playoff team at home and four on the road.
The home opponents are as follows:
Houston (8-8 in 2008), Tennessee (13-3), Jacksonville (5-11), New England (11-5), the New York Jets (9-7), San Francisco (7-9), Seattle (4-12) and Denver (8-8).
The away opponents are as follows: Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Buffalo (7-9), Miami (11-5), Arizona (9-7), St. Louis (2-14) and Baltimore (11-5).
Tennessee made the playoffs this season, as did Miami, Arizona and Baltimore. The Colts will play all four teams from both the AFC East and NFC West.