VETERANS VOICE CONFIDENCE

The noise surrounding the Colts this week has been audible. Players have been asked all week about the state of the team. Defensive end Robert Mathis and wide receiver Reggie Wayne turn a deaf ear and have faith in their teammates.

INDIANAPOLIS – Two of the leading voices on the Colts enunciate their messages in quite different methods.

Wide receiver Reggie Wayne regularly shows humor and wit in a most engaging fashion.  Media gatherings at his locker on Fridays are 'must attend' sessions

Defensive end Robert Mathis can match wit and humor with all of his teammates, as well as with anyone in the league.

Often on purpose, though, Mathis chooses a marvelous 'economy with words,' to use a phase from Sir John Gielgud's character, Hobson, from the 1981 movie, Arthur.  

Those words carry a message as strong as his quarterback hits.

On Friday, Mathis was asked the same question head coach Jim Caldwell and other teammates were asked earlier in the week about if they hear outside voices predicting the sky is falling or if the season is swirling down the drain as the team stands at 0-1.

He replied, "The last time it (outside criticism) was like that, we came away with rings."

The Pro Bowl defensive end was referring to the 2006 game in Jacksonville where the club allowed 375 rushing yards in a late-season loss, then re-grouped to win four playoff games and capture the Super Bowl XLI crown.

Mathis delivered the line with a near-smile and with no negative emotion.  He saves his aggression for the playing field, training his efforts on opponents not the outside off-field voices.  "You hear it, but you just can't listen to it," he said.

Mathis knows the club must play better than it did in a loss last week at Houston.  He knows what he wants to see in the home opener this weekend.

"(We) just want to come out with some more energy, pretty much build on what we did in the second half (at Houston) with fundamentals and tackling," said Mathis.  "They just out-played us.  We just have to not be out-played.  We have to start fast and end stronger."

Wayne has navigated defenses and played through tight jams during his 10 previous seasons with the club.  He feels good about where the team is heading into the weekend.

"I'm excited.  I'm excited about where we are," said Wayne.  "I feel like we do have a chip on our shoulders, and we have somewhat of a point to prove.  So we've got to be ready, which I think we will be.  It's going to be fun.  I feel like this whole season is going to be fun."

Wayne has heard the outside chatter and was posed the same questions, too.  A tested veteran, these situations do not affect him.

"It depends on how tough your skin is," said Wayne.  "For me personally, my skin has toughened so much, that now it just bounces off.  There's only one way to prove them wrong, and that's to go out and get the job done.  I guess that's why we play the game.  I think everybody in this locker room has heard enough of it, and have understood that there's only one way to take care of it.  We are focused on this week, and we feel good about the game plan.  Everybody feel's good about what is going on, and hopefully we can get a 'W' out of it."

Wayne, like Mathis, acknowledges better play is necessary this week.  For him and the offense, the needs are crystal clear.

"Offensively, it's protecting the ball.  Not turning over the ball and doing things that we've been doing," he said.  "Controlling each down, and making sure we stay in third down-and-short. The chances of keeping a drive going or scoring touchdowns is higher in those situations.  So we just want to do everything that we didn't do last week, and we need to do that this week.  That's one way to look at it."

Earlier in the week, head coach Jim Caldwell was asked if the outing at Houston was a matter of effort.  Caldwell asserted firmly that effort never has been an issue in Indianapolis for years, and Wayne agrees.

"It's not a problem.  We're all professionals, and we all know how to go out there and play football," said Wayne.  "Everybody in this locker room has played football for a long time, and you understand that from the time you step on that field there's going to be effort involved.  You need to go out there and lay it on the line.  But he (Head Coach Jim Caldwell) is right.  It's all about execution and doing the little things right.  I think that's what we have instilled in ourselves this week, just making sure that we focus on the little things and not worry about the big things.  The big things will take care of themselves.  If we just go in there and do the things we're capable of doing, and do the things we've been doing all 10 of my years.  Play Colts' football.  Go out there and have fun and play loose, and we'll be fine."

Wayne's efforts throughout his career have been outstanding.  He is on the brink of another milestone, 800 career receptions.  Wayne is aware of the plateau, though he is driven more by team results.  When he does ponder the matter, he sees a former teammate who hung big numbers, too. 

"That's what I heard," said Wayne.  "I heard it (the chance of 800 receptions) was in the paper yesterday.  I didn't get a chance to see it, but the equipment guys keep a good track of it.  They have a 'Reggie Wall' in there, and they keep my catches on track, as they did with Marvin (Harrison) when he was here.  His (total of 1,102 receptions) is still there, so I've got to see Marv's and look at mine, and I'm about 1,000 light-years away.  Six more (receptions), hopefully we can get it done.  If not, we'll get there eventually."

WEEKLY PRACTICE/STATUS REPORT

WEDNESDAY PRACTICE REPORT

OUT – QB-Peyton Manning (neck), LB-Gary Brackett (shoulder), LB-Ernie Sims (knee)

DID NOT PRACTICE – DE-Tyler Brayton (knee), LB-Kavell Conner (foot), DE-Dwight Freeney (rested), DE-Robert Mathis (neck), WR-Reggie Wayne (rested)

LIMITED PRACTICE – WR-Blair White (back)

FULL PRACTICE – WR-Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring)

THURSDAY PRACTICE REPORT

OUT – QB-Peyton Manning (neck), LB-Gary Brackett (shoulder), LB-Ernie Sims (knee)

DID NOT PRACTICE – TE-Brody Eldridge (knee), DT-Eric Foster (knee), WR-Blair White (back)

LIMITED PRACTICE – LB-Kavell Conner (foot), DE-Robert Mathis (neck)

FULL PRACTICE – DE-Tyler Brayton (knee), DE-Dwight Freeney (rested), WR-Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring), WR-Reggie Wayne (rested)

FRIDAY PRACTICE REPORT

OUT – QB-Peyton Manning (neck), LB-Gary Brackett (shoulder), LB-Ernie Sims (knee)

DID NOT PRACTICE – DE-Robert Mathis (neck/chest)

FULL PRACTICE – DE-Tyler Brayton (knee), LB-Kavell Conner (foot), TE-Brody Eldridge (knee), DT-Eric Foster (knee), DE-Dwight Freeney (rested), WR-Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring), WR-Reggie Wayne (rested), WR-Blair White (back)

FRIDAY STATUS REPORT

OUT – QB-Peyton Manning (neck), LB-Gary Brackett (shoulder), LB-Ernie Sims (knee)

QUESTIONABLE – DE-Tyler Brayton (knee), LB-Kavell Conner (foot), TE-Brody Eldridge (knee), DT-Eric Foster (knee), WR-Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring), DE-Robert Mathis (neck/chest), WR-Blair White (back)

PROBABLE – DE-Dwight Freeney (rested), WR-Reggie Wayne (rested)

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