Keiaho Likely to Start in Middle Against San Diego, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – The time for talk is nearing an end.
And to Tony Dungy, the time for concern over who is injured, and who will or will not be able to play, is nearing an end, too.
Dungy, in his seventh season as the Colts' head coach, said Thursday morning third-year veteran Freddy Keiaho likely will start at middle linebacker in the opening round of the playoffs, and he said he isn't sure how soon middle linebacker Gary Brackett will be able to play.
But he also said whoever plays will play well, and he said that's the way it has to be because the regular season is over. It's playoff time.
And Dungy said that means whatever has to be done must be done well whoever happens to be playing.
"Obviously, we'd like to have Gary," Dungy said Thursday as the Colts (12-4) prepared 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.
"Everybody would like to have all of their guys, but I think we just look at last year's (playoff) game and how San Diego was. They're were missing guys and guys get hurt in the course of the game and other guys step in and play. I think that's what good teams do. You're at a point where you can't worry who's not there.
"You have to play, and the guys that play will determine the game."
Keiaho, a third-year veteran, started 14 games this season at weakside linebacker and was held out of the regular-season finale with a hamstring injury.
Third-year veteran Tyjuan Hagler, who started seven games last season and three this season, likely will start at weakside linebacker with second-year veteran Clint Session starting at the strong-side position. Hagler spent the first five games of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
"That's the way we've practiced and they look pretty comfortable," Dungy said. "Buster Davis will be the first substitute if we have any injuries. That's probably the way we would start the game."
Davis started the last four games in the middle in place of Brackett, the team's defensive captain who has been out since sustaining a fibula injury at Cleveland on November 30.
"It's hard to say," Dungy said about when Brackett might return. "He still hasn't practiced yet, so I don't think it's imminent. I think if he could get out and practice next week, we would certainly play him. I don't know where he is.
"We'll find that out, probably, on Tuesday if we win."
Also Thursday, the Colts released their second injury reof the week, with Brackett (fibula), offensive guard Mike Pollak (ankle), center Jamey Richard (ankle) and running back Chad Simpson (not injury related-rested) listed as not participating in practice and defensive tackle Eric Foster (finger), wide receiver Pierre Garcon (knee) and cornerback Keiwan Ratliff (groin) were listed as participating.
Dungy on Thursday morning said veteran Dan Federkeil has worked this week at right guard, where Pollak – a rookie second-round draft selection – has started for the last 13 games.
"Unless Mike is really great (Thursday), Dan will probably start," Dungy said. "But, we'll see how Mike and Jamey do (Thursday) in their workout."
Of Federkeil, Dungy added, "He'll do fine. He's practiced well, and he'll do fine. We will just kind of have to see how they do. Unless (Richard and Pollak) just come out and run great, and they're 100 percent, which I doubt, then I think Dan would start.
"But, just who's available, that's what we have to determine."
Saturday's game will be the fourth between the teams since November 2007. The Chargers beat the Colts, 23-21, in San Diego last regular season, then won in Indianapolis in an AFC Divisional Playoff game in January, 28-24.
The Colts beat the Chargers, 23-20, this past November on a 51-yard field goal by kicker Adam Vinatieri as time expired.
"I don't think it's going to be surprise-type game," Dungy said. "I think it's going to be execution and the big-play guys doing their job. (Chargers running back) LaDainian (Tomlinson)'s comment that he missed practice (Wednesday), but because they've played us so much practice – from the sense of knowing what's going on – is not that important. It's important for timing and everything, but he didn't feel like he'd have any issues as far as knowing what to do.
"I think we're all in that boat having played them four times in the last two years."