INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts are four full days away from playing Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football and how the team will approach the game from the quarterback position is to be determined.
Veteran Kerry Collins opened the first three games of the season, but he exited the game last week against Pittsburgh for the final quarter with symptoms related to a possible concussion.
Collins had completed 13-of-29 passes for 93 yards when he left the game.
Curtis Painter came in with the score tied, 13-13, and directed the final five drives. Painter, in his first regular-season action since appearances in the final two games of the 2009 season when the team was prepping for the playoffs, completed five-of-11 passes for 60 yards. He directed a scoring drive that knotted the game at 20 with 2:09 remaining.
As the team practiced Thursday, its first preparation for Monday, head coach Jim Caldwell said the situation at quarterback is to be determined, and that includes the physical evaluation of Collins.
"Right now, Kerry is still healing and still recovering a little bit," said Caldwell. "He will not practice this afternoon. We're not quite certain what his status will be here tomorrow or later on this afternoon. If he cannot go, obviously Curtis will.
"I'm not going to get into all that (discussing of the specific nature of Collins injury). From a professional standpoint, you need a doctor…telling you all of the nuances involved. He showed symptoms (of a concussion), let me put it that way. There is a protocol they (doctors) go through, and they will adhere to everything to make sure he is okay to go."
Collins has absorbed the offense to a fine degree since joining the team in August. He practiced the heavy majority of last week, but was limited in the first day of work prior to the Pittsburgh game because of a shoulder injury. Caldwell says everyone is different in terms of how much practice time is needed weekly and one's familiarity with the system can override the amount of practice time needed to get ready for a game.
"Everybody's a little bit different, it just depends," said Caldwell. "Sometimes, depending how familiar a guy is with a system, you maybe can stretch it out a little bit. Obviously, if he (a player) is on the other end of the spectrum, you also have to consider that because you can't get those (practice) snaps back, and preparation is important for a guy that's new in a system. I'm not going to put any parameters on it, not with a Monday Night game. We have a little while."
With Collins not working on Thursday, Caldwell approached the first practice of the week as if Painter were going to start. That decision is one Caldwell developed many years ago, and it is the only decision he thinks a coach has.
"You have to, there's no other way to do it," said Caldwell. "I had this old adage when I first started coaching, 'You have to coach who shows up.' Today, Curtis is practicing. Kerry is not, so we have to get him ready for the ballgame."
As for Painter, Caldwell likes the development the third-year pro has demonstrated. Last week's performance showed evidence of his maturation in the club's system.
"I think for him getting a good, solid week of preparation is key," said Caldwell. "I think what Curtis has shown is that he's improved and he has been able to do it consistently. He's getting a little bit better, about six inches at a time. He's familiar with our system, and I think he will function very well."
Painter was matter of fact in the locker room on Thursday. He was not able to shed more light on the quarterback situation and will take it as it comes.
"I'm not sure (on if Collins is going to be limited). I'm going to guess so, but I'm not sure of the situation," said Painter. "I'm sure we'll find out more in the next couple of days."
When asked what went well last week against Pittsburgh and not so well, Painter wishes he had a throw or two to make again, but he did believe parts of his outing went well.
"I think maybe the biggest negative was coming in the game and missing a couple of passes I should have had, obviously the first one to Pierre (Garcon), then another one I believe in the next drive," he said. "Just getting in there and not being too wound up and be a little more accurate (is important). We had a good drive and we scored and that was a positive."
Painter has had more work this year in practice with the first-team. It is something that benefits him more than just mental preparation of watching it happen in practice.
"It's one thing to get mental reps watching other people do it. It's another thing to actually be in there with the guys and getting actual reps," said Painter. "I think the biggest thing that helped me was this (training) camp, getting a ton of reps. I've gotten a few this year so far. I think the biggest thing in being comfortable with the offense is getting actual reps."
He was asked how he could avoid being too wound up if he were to start at Tampa Bay.
"I think at that point, I would know a little more and I would be prepared to calm down a little bit beforehand," said Painter. "I kind of got surprised by that one (last week). (It's) not an excuse, but, hopefully, I will know a little bit more going into this weekend, whether (I'm) up or down. I will use that (knowledge) to control it."
Among a flurry of roster moves on Wednesday of this week, the Colts re-signed quarterback Dan Orlovsky, a seventh-year pro who was with the team in training camp.
Orlovsky has started seven of 13 career appearances since being a fifth-round choice of Detroit in 2005. He started seven of 12 games with the Lions, hitting 150-of-272 passes for 1,679 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions before joining Houston as a free agent in 2010. He had one outing with the Texans without having any attempts. Orlovsky signed with the Colts on July 30 and was waived in the cut to 53 players. He was 25-of-54 for 386 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions during preseason play.
Peyton Manning remains on the active roster, something the club will keep the same going forward. Caldwell commented on the reason for the approach with Manning.
"Simply because of the fact it will tell you there may be a possibility that he may recover soon enough to give us a little help somewhere down the road," said Caldwell. "We're not certain of that, but that's the reason why. It is the same reason we kept Bob Sanders on (the active roster) last year. It's not something that's new in terms of what we're doing. It's a bit different. It's different than (Melvin) Bullitt and different than Gary Brackett (who both went in IR this week), so don't try to draw those analogies. Those guys have surgeries that are maybe nine months or so (for recovery). I think you have to be able to look at each situation differently and then make an assessment from there."