Colts Move from Bye-Week Mode to Game-Week Mode in Preparing for Houston
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts' focus changed on Wednesday.
And as the team moved from bye-week to game-week mode, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said the goal was fairly obvious.
The Colts, Dungy said, were inconsistent en route to two losses in their first three games for the first time in 10 seasons. The offense played well at times, as did the defense and special teams, but Dungy said rarely did it happen at the same time.
Thus, Dungy said, the focus:
Get consistent – now, not later.
"We haven't played what I would call a real sharp game for 60 minutes," Dungy said Wednesday afternoon as the Colts (1-2), the five-time defending AFC South champions, prepared to play the Houston Texans (0-3) in a division game at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas Sunday at 1 p.m.
"We've shown some signs, had some sparks in one phase or the other, but we haven't been consistent. That's what we have to do."
The Colts trail Tennessee (4-0) in the AFC South by two and a half games. Before this season, they never had been more than a game out of first place in the six-year history of the division.
After a Week 3 loss to Jacksonville, the Colts practiced Wednesday and Thursday last week, then had the weekend off because of the bye. They practiced at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center Monday, then after a player's day off, returned to practice Wednesday to begin full-scale preparations for Houston.
"It's kind of nice to get back to practice today this week and start preparing for an opponent again," Dungy said. "We had last week where we really focused on ourselves. We had to shift gears today (Wednesday) and start really looking at the other team and what we expect to get, so hopefully, that will translate out to practice and we'll get ready to go."
Said Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, "When the schedule came out, I thought the bye week was a little but early. But considering some of our injuries, I think we can turn it into a positive.
"We're going to get some guys back this week.
The Colts on Wednesday released their first injury reof the week, with safety Bob Sanders (knee/ankle), wide receiver Roy Hall (knee), defensive end Robert Mathis (rested) and offensive lineman Dan Federkeil (shoulder) listed as not participating in practice.
Three players who missed the Jaguars game with injuries – offensive tackle Tony Ugoh, tight end Jacob Tamme, guard Mike Pollak and defensive tackle Dan Muir – returned to practice, Dungy said.
"Everybody else will be able to practice," Dungy said Wednesday afternoon. "It will be our first time in pads, so we'll get to see how some of our guys respond. We'll make the decision later on in the week who's going to be ready, but it will be nice to get those guys back out there.
"Hopefully, they'll go through it with no problems."
Ugoh started the first two games of the season at left tackle while Pollak – a second-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft who competed with veteran Charlie Johnson at guard throughout training camp – has yet to play in the regular season. Federkeil started the first three games at guard.
"We're going to wait and see how that all sorts out and see how guys can play," Dungy said of the potential lineup along the line. "Physically, they're fine and ready to go. They have been cleared by the doctors, but in Mike's case it has been a long time since he has taken any hits and done anything that way, with pads on. Tony seems to be doing well and in talking to him, he feels well, so we'll see how he'll do."
Pollak who started every game at Arizona State the past two seasons, started 36 of 46 games in college. He said he rarely missed a practice, much less a game, in college or high school.
"That first week was really tough for me, but even though I wasn't playing, I was mentally preparing as I was playing," Pollak said. "Even though I haven't been practicing, I've been in meetings with all the guys watching tape of the guys. It's basically like I've been at every practice. I just haven't physically gone through it."
Tamme, a fourth-round selection from the University of Kentucky, sustained an ankle injury in practice just before the Colts' Week 2 victory over Minnesota, a game starting tight end Dallas Clark missed with a knee injury.
"You never know when your chance is going to come in this league," Tamme said. "You never want it to be due to injury, but guys go down, then I went down myself. It's something you have to work through and be ready again when another chance comes."
Also on Wednesday, offensive line coach Howard Mudd worked in practice after undergoing knee surgery, Dungy said.