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Colts must step it up against Redskins

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano doesn’t believe in must-wins.

Are there big games? Yes. Are there games that teams need to win in order to stay in the division and playoff races? Yes again.

But Pagano says he doesn’t have to continually stress the importance of such games.

“You know, you really don’t have to with this group,” he said. “We’ve got such great veteran leaders and I think everybody understood the ramifications and the importance.

“Every game’s important and I think they understood division game, home game, the fact that we control our own destiny and all those things as far as the division goes. They did a nice job preparing (for last week’s win over Jacksonville) and obviously glad we got out of there with the win.”

Which brings us to Sunday’s home game with Washington.

Indianapolis will bring a 7-4 record into the matchup while Jay Gruden’s team is 3-8. Conventional wisdom is that the Colts should come away with the victory. But after the Colts’ sluggish win over Jacksonville last week, nothing is written in stone.

One thing is certain though. The Colts need more from the running game over the last month of the season. Of course, that’s a refrain that has been heard before.

Pagano remains positive about the ground attack.

“I like where we’re at and we’ll continue to go. We’ve moved some pieces around on the offensive line so that all factors in. You lose your Y-tight end in Dwayne Allen; that factors in. The runners ran hard (against the Jaguars) and there was again a really good front that we were going against and good linebackers that play downhill, guys that are fast,” the Colts’ coach explained.

“We’re going to see it week in and week out. So we’re going to keep hammering the point home, that especially down the stretch and playing on the road, playing in cold weather when conditions aren’t conducive to throwing the football every snap, you’re going to have to be able to run the football. So it was good to see us generate some yards.”

NOTES: The Colts signed WR Griff Whalen and RB Jeff Demps to the practice squad and released RB Michael Hill and LB Trevardo from the practice squad. … Among those not practicing Wednesday were TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) and OG Hugh Thornton (MCL sprain). … CB Loucheiz Purifoy (concussion) and CB Greg Toler practiced Wednesday on a limited basis. … LB Andy Studebaker (hamstring) is listed as day-to-day. … CB Vontae Davis (foot) was wearing a boot during practice, although his injury is not considered serious. Among those missing practice were CB Josh Gordy (back) and S Colt Anderson (knee). … OL Xavier Nixon (foot) was hurt late in Wednesday’s practice session. The injury is not thought to be serious, but his availability for Thursday’s practice remains to be decided. Nixon is in contention to start at right guard for Thornton.

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