Sorgi to Start Fourth Consecutive Preseason Game in Place of Manning
INDIANAPOLIS – His goals remain the same and simple.
Jim Sorgi, who has started the Colts' first three preseason games in place of Peyton Manning, will start again Sunday night, becoming the first player to start at quarterback for the Colts in their new stadium.
Sorgi said what he wants Sunday is what he has wanted throughout the preseason.
He wants to be consistent. He wants touchdowns.
And mostly, he said, he wants to get the Colts ready for Manning's return.
"It's a big deal if he misses a couple of games, but hopefully, it's not as big a deal as people think," Sorgi said as the Colts (1-2 in the preseason) prepared to play the Buffalo Bills (1-1) in the first preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday at 8 p.m.
"Hopefully, I can go out there and win some ball games and keep us on the right track, so when he does come back, we're still at the same spot we would be if he would have played.
"That's what I'm trying to do right now. I'm trying to get ready."
Manning, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, has missed the first three preseason games recovering from surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee.
Manning this week said his goal remains to return for the team's regular-season opener against Chicago on September 7, and in his absence, teammates said this week they have seen Sorgi's confidence and performance improve.
"He's very capable," Colts tight end Dallas Clark said. "He's very smart. He's done a great job of playing within himself. That's the most imant thing he had to do – realize for this camp and for this time until Peyton gets healthy that he's not going to replace Peyton and he's not going to make the amazing throws that Peyton does, but he still can go out there and lead the offense and he still can go out there and be effective and move the ball down the field. That's exactly what he has been able to do. He's taken that role seriously and it's something he has been looking forward to.
"He's taken full advantage of it. He's shown a lot of great things out there, a lot of maturity, a lot of composure. He's definitely learned a lot in this position, being the No. 1 guy.
"It has been really beneficial for him."
Sorgi, with Manning out, has seen his most extensive preseason action with the starters in his five seasons, completing 20 of 31 passes for 198 yards and an interception with no touchdowns.
"I know he (Manning)'s not going to play this weekend," Sorgi said. "I know I'm going to take a lot of snaps this weekend, so that's pretty much what I'm concentrating on."
As for Manning's return, Sorgi said, "After this week, normally the last preseason game you don't get to play very much. We'll take a look at it then – when we start preparing for Chicago – and we'll see the closer we get how ready he is."
Sorgi finished the Colts' victory over Atlanta completing seven of 12 passes for 67 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. On the Colts' second series, Sorgi for the third time in as many games led the first-team offense on an extended, field goal-producing drive -- a 17-play, 85-yard drive that ended in a 24-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
Sorgi in three games has played six series, directing three that ended in field goals, one that ended in a punt, one that ended in an interception and one that ended in a lost fumble.
"All in all, I think it has gone pretty well – besides field goals instead of touchdowns," Sorgi said. "But you keep plugging away and all of that stuff will come. This week, the same thing."
The Colts this week game-planned for the Bills throughout the week, the first time this preseason they planned specifically for an opponent, and the team's starters are expected to play at least until midway through the third quarter. Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said it may be the closest thing to a dress rehearsal for the regular season the team has this preseason.
"We're going to play the first half and maybe a series in the third quarter," Sorgi said. "You want to come out and be clean, be smooth and efficient and put the ball in the end zone. I have a good feeling about it.
"There's no bigger week than this week because we're game-planning for Buffalo. We're going to play a little longer and make adjustments throughout the game. Hopefully, we'll put a good performance together and get some confidence up so when we do play against Chicago, it will be clean."