NFL Wire News

Colts enter playoffs as a work in progress


INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts finished the regular season with an 11-5 record and posted their second straight and ninth overall AFC South title, but the jury remains out on just how good this team is.

In laymen’s terms, the Colts remain very much a work in progress at this late date.

Injuries have forced Indianapolis to consider starting its 11th offensive line configuration of the season. The patchwork offensive line has hindered the Colts’ ability to run the football on a consistent basis as well as to provide quarterback Andrew Luck with adequate pass protection.

Injuries in the offensive backfield have led to former third-stringer Daniel “Boom” Herron to start the final two regular-season games ahead of Trent Richardson, who continues to battle consistency. Former starter Ahmad Bradshaw is out for the season with a leg injury.

Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne, meanwhile, has battled injuries the last two seasons, which has hurt his effectiveness. Wayne, though, is expected to play Sunday afternoon when the Colts take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium against Cincinnati in an AFC wild-card playoff game.

“I think you’d love to be 100 percent from a health standpoint. That’s probably the only thing right now that worries you a little bit is the health of your football team. We’re not 100 percent. You’re never going to be at this time of year,” coach Chuck Pagano said.

“We got a few a guys nicked up in (the Tennessee) game, but you’re never going to be 100 percent. I love where this team is at. I love their mindset. They’re focused. They’re dialed in. Obviously very amped up and excited for this first round.”

Indianapolis’ offense has been off its stride a bit since early December, although the Colts still lead the league with an average of 305.9 passing yards per game. Offensive turnovers have been a big issue during the last month as well the ability to convert in crucial third-down situations.

So knowing all the issues that have faced Pagano’s team in recent weeks, can the Colts finally flip the switch and make a long postseason run?

“They did a good job of taking care of the football (at Tennessee) and then a pretty clean game as far as the penalties go. We’ll keep stressing it. We’ll keep emphasizing it, we’ll keep working the fundamentals and techniques of taking care of the football and securing the thing, and then continue to emphasize eliminate the friendly fire,” Pagano stressed.

While the ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl, just getting both the offensive and defensive units back in sync would be a good thing.

“You know what our goal is and it’s everybody’s goal at the start of the year. Now there’s 12 teams that are in (the playoffs) and we’re one of those 12,” Pagano said.

“So we feel fortunate about that. But we have to take care of business first. That all starts this week with Cincinnati. If you don’t do that, then you aren’t going to take the next step. We’re glad to be in, but we’re never satisfied.”

Indianapolis goes into the playoffs winning five of its last six games. But the Colts haven’t played their best in those wins and had perhaps their worst performance of the season in a loss at Dallas three weeks ago.

SERIES HISTORY: 28th all-time meeting. Colts lead the regular-season series 16-10. The franchise is also 1-0 in postseason games, having posted a 17-0 victory at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium on Dec. 26, 1970. The Colts won the regular-season meeting earlier this year, taking a 27-0 decision at Lucas Oil Stadium on Oct. 19. Indianapolis’ offense rushed for 171 yards, which marked its second-highest total of the season. The Colts limited Cincinnati to 1 of 13 on third down and 135 net yards in the game. The Colts have won eight of the last 10 meetings with the Bengals. Indianapolis has only lost to Cincinnati once since moving to Indianapolis in 1984, posting a 24-21 overtime victory in 1995.

NOTES: On Wednesday, the Colts moved G David Arkin from the practice squad to the active roster and placed O Gosder Cherilus (groin) on injured reserve. … WR Kadron Boone was signed to the practice squad. … Rookie OLB Jonathan Newsome was named as the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Tennessee last Sunday. Newsome had a career-high eight tackles (seven solo), tied a personal best with two sacks and added a forced fumble.

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