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Wild Card Notebook: Wednesday Edition

Intro: Throughout the course of the playoffs, will publish a daily notebook addressing some key points heading into that weekend’s contest. Today’s notebook looks at the Colts ability to control special teams, more pass rush weapons and the surprise health across the roster.


Colts Pass Rush Not Just Robert Mathis- Only four times in 2013 has Robert Mathis walked off the field following a game and not recorded a sack.

In another four games, Mathis walked off the field as the lone Colts player to record a sack.

However, that has not been the case the last three weeks.

Mathis has been Mathis. He finished the regular season with four sacks in the final three games.

But there's Jerrell Freeman (2.0 sacks), Bjoern Werner (2.0 sacks), Cory Redding (1.0 sack), Antoine Bethea (1.0 sack), Erik Walden (1.0 sack), Fili Moala (0.5 sacks) and Ricardo Mathews (0.5 sacks) all who have joined the party to close out the regular season.

Throw in another 22 quarterback hurries over the last three weeks and the Colts pass rush has made life very difficult for opposing quarterbacks lately.

The three quarterbacks the Colts faced during the current three-game winning streak each had their lowest quarterback ratings they've had in the past two months.

On Sunday, Walden will play in his 7th career playoff game and he knows the importance of continuing to help out Mathis in the pass rush department.

"You've got to put discomfort in the quarterback's mind," Walden says. "All the quarterbacks are great so if you rely on them to just sit back there and be comfortable then it's going to be a long day.

"If we stop the run, get after the quarterback and get off the field on third-downs, then I like our chances."Defensive Line, Secondary Getting Healthy—As the Colts players trickled into the team's indoor facility on Wednesday afternoon, more and more bodies entered with helmets in hand.

This is a sign of practice participation, and the Colts had all 51 of their 53 players on their active roster giving it a go on Wednesday.

The healthy bodies of Cory Redding and Ricky Jean Francois up front are vital considering the type of attention Jamaal Charles deserves.

"If I was (Andy) Reid and the rest of your staff I would say, especially in an environment if it's going to be loud and the game warrants that you can stick with the run, I'm sure we're going to see Jamaal," Chuck Pagano says.

"If he doesn't touch the ball 30 times, I'd be shocked."

Even Charles knows the top priority for the Colts

"You stop the run, you beat the Chiefs," Charles said in an Indianapolis conference call earlier this week.

Every game week, Redding addresses the media and in the first few seconds he mentions stopping the run.

This week though, before he got into neutralizing Charles, Redding reassured everyone that his shoulder is just fine.

"I'm back. I feel great. I had a week to recover from my shoulder injury in Kansas City two weeks ago. Feel strong, stable and great to be back around my teammates," Redding said.


The Colts cornerbacks were also back at full strength on Wednesday with Darius Butler, Vontae Davis and Greg Toler all practicing as "full" participants.Have The Colts Added Another Weapon?-The hidden yardage in an NFL game is a stat that does not receive a ton of attention game-after-game.

Yet ask any NFL coach and they will tell you the importance in what a special teams unit that can control field position can do for a team's success.

The Chiefs ended the 2013 season first in the NFL in starting field position (33.4 yard-line) and opponent's starting field position (23.2 yard-line).

Back on Dec. 23 though, it was the Colts who controlled the field position and turned that into a 16-minute advantage in time of possession and a 23-7 victory.

That Sunday in Kansas City was the coming out party of sorts for Darrius Heyward-Bey on special teams.

DHB's role has shifted to that of a gunner and he has been very effective in forcing fair catches and limiting opponent's returns.

"If we can keep them starting from the 20-back and then for us, if we make some plays on kickoff return and punt return, that would be big. It's all about ball control and field position."

DHB returned to practice Wednesday in a limited role and is eager to join special teams ace Sergio Brown.

The reps for DHB at gunner has come in Brown's absence (groin) but he believes the duo could be a "lethal" duo moving forward.

Throw in Pat McAfee's franchise record 27 punts pinned inside the 20-yard line this year and the Colts have a weapon that will play a major role against one of the league's best special teams units.

"If (DHB's) able to keep doing what he's doing we can go out there together, take some pressure off of Pat because we can both go down there and do good things. It's going to add a new dimension to the game and some people are going to have to really prepare for something," Brown said.

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