The Colts will make the playoffs this season because of their talent and their division. The AFC South is the weakest division in the NFL. It's all about getting one of the top two seeds in the AFC playoffs, which means having an extra week off. The Colts' toughest stretch of the schedule starts Oct. 9, when they have go from playing Baltimore Oct. 5 to facing Houston on the road four days later. The Colts then play three of their next four games against teams expected to compete for playoff spots: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and New England. That string of games will likely determine whether the Colts can get one of the top two seeds in the AFC.

Complete Colts season preview.
INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano didn’t go into details on which players won’t play in the preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday.

“I think it’s probably obvious, some of them that we would take care of and probably not put out there like I said for obvious reasons,” Pagano said.

So in other words don’t expect to see players like quarterback Andrew Luck, receivers Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks on offense and veterans like linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, defensive linemen Cory Redding and Art Jones on defense play. There will likely be even more starters sitting out.

You can expect the Colts’ young interior offensive linemen to play as long as they’re healthy.

Guards Jack Mewhort and Hugh Thornton and center Jonotthan Harrison have to play. They need to get as many snaps as possible. It's especially important for Mewhort and Thornton because they're the likely starters Week 1 against the Denver Broncos.

“As much as you want to protect everybody, if you will, guys got to play,” Pagano said. “You consider the circumstances and the things that have transpired over the last week and a half and so forth, guys got to play.”

It’s still uncertain if starting center Khaled Holmes will be available against the Broncos. The Colts hope to have him available but he's missed the past three weeks with a sprained ankle.
Here's Wednesday's Reading the Coverage:
INDIANAPOLIS -- Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

That's the time Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis' NFL-imposed four-game suspension begins.

Mathis
No communication with anybody in the organization. No access in the team's facility. No access in the stadium.

Mathis, who was suspended for violating the NFL's drug policy, cannot have any ties to the franchise again until Sept. 29.

Nada. Nothing. Zilch.

"Zero. Zero. Players, coaches, nobody," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "I got a memo, a laundry list of dos and don'ts on it. There's more don'ts than dos. That's including you guys, so if you have his cell, burn it."

Mathis' first game of the 2014 season will be Oct. 5 against the Baltimore Ravens. He has not played in any of the team's preseason games and won't play against Cincinnati on Thursday.

Mathis has to work out on his own to stay in the best shape possible so that he can jump right back into the lineup once he returns.

"We've made plans for Robert," Pagano said. "He's going to have a routine. He's going to have a regimen as far as working out, weight room-wise, conditioning-wise. Football, he's got to continue to hone and develop his skill set. There's people out there that will work with Robert and he can go out and hire whoever he wants to hire.

"He's got a regimen from his position coach from a drills standpoint. We can't have him come back in Week 5 for Baltimore and we're starting from scratch, so to speak. I know Robert and everybody in this building knows Robert will stick to that plan and be ready to roll once he gets back."
INDIANAPOLIS – ESPN.com NFL Insider Mike Sando has an interesting piece in which he talked to different officials around the league and ranked all 32 head coaches Insider.

Pagano
Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano didn’t crack the top five, not the top 10 or the top 15, either.

League officials have Pagano ranked as the 16th-best coach in the league.

That may seem low when you take into account that Pagano is 22-10 in his two years as coach (he missed 12 games because of his battle with leukemia in 2012) and has been to the playoffs in each of those seasons. The Colts also beat San Francisco, Seattle and Denver last season.

"One of the things I thought about is getting your players to play for you," a voter said. "Even though Bruce Arians was running the show [in 2012], I think his players played for [Pagano]. It was a little personal and emotional, but I felt that was a group of players doing whatever they had to do to play for him. This past year, when Bruce was gone, they wound up winning in the playoffs without having an overly-talented team. They played their butts off for their coach more than anyone else. He did a great job of motivating them."

Some question Pagano’s coaching because he’s had franchise quarterback Andrew Luck and they play in the AFC South, the weakest division in the league.

"I think he is a good coach, but some contributing factors make me want to see more against better competition," one executive said.

The coach you can question on whether he deserves to be ranked higher than Pagano is Philadelphia's Chip Kelly.

New England coach Bill Belichick and Seattle’s Pete Carroll were named the top two coaches.
The Indianapolis Colts made four roster moves Tuesday afternoon to get down to 75 players.

Most significant move: Running back Vick Ballard was expected to be a part of the Colts’ backfield that also features Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw. The three were supposed to team together to help complement the Colts’ passing game. Ballard barely had a chance to show what he could do because his season ended before it really started. He tore his Achilles during a running back passing drill early in training camp last month. This is the second straight season that Ballard’s season ended because of an injury in practice. He tore his ACL in practice prior to Week 2 last season.

Harvey at fullback: With fullback Stanley Havili being placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, which means he has to sit out at least the first six weeks, Mario Harvey will be the Colts’ lone fullback if they decide to keep one. Harvey is in his first season playing fullback after being a linebacker his entire career. The other option would be for the Colts to release Harvey when they have to get down to 53 players by Saturday and use one of their tight ends in situations in which a fullback is needed, as they did at times last season.

Colts’ cuts: RB Vick Ballard (injured reserve), OT Ulrick John (injured reserve), RB Deji Karim (injured reserve), FB Stanley Havili (reserve/physically unable to perform), CB Johnny Adams, CB Qua Cox, G Andre Cureton, G Marcus Hall, CB Kameron Jackson, WR Nu'Keese Richardson, LB Jonathon Sharpe, S David Sims, WR Eric Thomas, WR Tony Washington and FB Cameron White
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts already have an inexperienced interior offensive line. And to make things even worse, those same inexperienced players are also dealing with injuries.

Former Pro Bowl guard Richie Incognito is available, and Colts coach Chuck Pagano did not rule out the possibility of the team having interest in him Tuesday afternoon.

Incognito
“I think anybody that’s on the street right now after cut downs this weekend, anybody that comes available we’ll discuss,” Pagano said. “We will not ... say yay or nay based on history. If it makes sense, if it’s going to help us win, and it’s the best thing for the team and this organization, it doesn’t matter if it’s Richie or anybody else, we’ll do what’s right for this organization, for what’s best for this team. What gives us the best chance to win.”

The Colts would be taking a risk in pursuing Incognito because he has baggage going back to his hazing and bullying of Jonathan Martin while with the Miami Dolphins last season.

An issue that could come up is that Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, Griff Whalen and Delano Howell were teammates of Martin at Stanford.

Incognito was cleared by the NFL to return to the league Monday and met with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the same day.

The Colts have a history of signing players with baggage. Look at Chris Rainey, LaVon Brazill, Da’Rick Rogers and Nu’Keese Richardson in recent years.

The difference between Incognito and those players is that he’ll make an impact in the game.

The Colts aren’t looking to just make the playoffs. They’ve done that each of the past two seasons with Luck. They want to win a Super Bowl. The interior part of their offensive line leaves a lot of doubt.

Starting center Khaled Holmes has been out almost three weeks with a sprained ankle, rookie guard Jack Mewhort has missed time because of a knee issue and fellow guard Hugh Thornton did not practice Tuesday.

The Colts have enough veterans inside the locker room where Incognitio wouldn’t need to do anything other than block. Luck, linebacker Robert Mathis, receiver Reggie Wayne and defensive lineman Cory Redding have the leadership part already taken care of. Those players won't put up with Incognito trying to bully or haze any of his teammates. As cornerback Vontae Davis said last season, the Colts have a "brotherhood" inside the locker room.

Incognito’s job would be to help block to give Luck time to throw to his arsenal of weapons on the outside and open up holes for the running backs.

At this point, it's worth the Colts taking a flyer on Incognito because you would like to think he realizes he's under the microscope and has little room to mess up again.

 

RTC: Does Andrew Luck really slide?

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
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Here’s Tuesday’s Reading the Coverage:
  • Mike Chappell of the Indy Star writes about how quarterback Andrew Luck really doesn’t slide when he takes off running with the ball. It’s more like a roll to the ground."It was sneaky," backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said through a wry smile. "It wasn't really a slide and it wasn't really a dive. I thought he was trying to get away with the barrel-roll. I think he was trying to score. (If) nobody tags him down, he gets back up and runs. Watch the film. Genius."
  • Kevin Bowen of Colts.com highlights the roster moves the team made in his daily notebook. The Colts have to cut four more players to get down to the league-mandated 75 players by 4 p.m. EST on Tuesday.
  • George Bremer of the Anderson (Indiana) Herald Bulletin believes the Colts will be fine on offense despite struggling against the New Orleans Saints over weekend.
  • ‘Madden NFL 15’ ratings for the Colts
  • Pagano on run game: It’s a ‘work in progress’
  • Should the Colts pursue Alex Boone?
  • Colts’ projected roster
  • Luck joined the defense with subpar play against the Saints
INDIANAPOLIS -- Zach Kerr pulled his phone out in the locker room and had to do a double take shortly after the Indianapolis Colts' game against the New Orleans Saints over the weekend.

What the Colts defensive lineman saw was more than 40 text messages from friends and family, countless mentions on Twitter and Instagram.

The majority of the comments weren’t about Kerr’s sack of Saints quarterback Ryan Griffin, which resulted in an 8-yard loss.

They were more about what Kerr did after the sack.

The undrafted rookie out of Delaware showed he could do more than sack the quarterback when he put on his own personal dance party immediately after the sack.

“The excitement took over,” Kerr said, laughing. “I had been waiting for the moment to be able to sack the quarterback. It happened and I started celebrating.”

Kerr finished with five tackles against the Saints. He’s got 10 tackles, including three for losses, in the preseason as he tries to lock down a spot on the Colts' 53-man roster.

With injuries to Fili Moala and Jeris Pendleton, Kerr has worked his way up the depth chart to become Art Jones’ backup at defensive tackle.

Kerr, who had 3.5 sacks during his final season at Delaware, is in position to make the final roster. He can lock it down with another strong performance in the preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday.
INDIANAPOLIS -- There were a number of players on the Indianapolis Colts excited at the facility Monday because they received their copy of Madden 15, the ever-so popular NFL video game. The game comes out Aug. 26.

One of the things players like to do first is see what they’re overall rating is, and of course, players don’t often agree with it.

Here are the top-10 Colts according to their ratings.

LB Robert Mathis 93
CB Vontae Davis 92
QB Andrew Luck 88
K Adam Vinatieri 88
WR Reggie Wayne 87
RT Gosder Cherilus 85
WR T.Y. Hilton 85
TE Dwayne Allen 84
DE Arthur Jones 84
WR Hakeem Nicks 84

The unfortunate part is somebody has finish at the bottom of the ratings.

Here's the rating of the bottom five players I think will make the final 53-man roster.

LB Josh McNary 64
LB Jonathan Newsome 64
LB Mario Harvey 63
CB Loucheiz Purifoy 59
TE Matt Overton 50

Two things of note about the bottom five players. Harvey has been switched to fullback and Overton is the team's long snapper.

Other notable player ratings:

RB Ahmad Bradshaw 82
RB Trent Richardson 80
C Khaled Holmes 71
CB Greg Toler 76
INDIANAPOLIS -- A work in progress.

You don't want to hear those words uttered when the start of the NFL regular season is less than two weeks away.

But wait.

That's not the worse part of it.

Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano was asked about the team's running game and he said, "it's going to be a work in progress the whole season."

The whole season, and he's not even specifically talking about running back Trent Richardson. Pagano was talking about the whole unit.

The Colts will be fine when it comes to their passing game, but they need some kind of production out of running backs Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw and Daniel "Boom" Herron to keep the defense honest.

Indianapolis is averaging 3.5 yards a carry as a team in the preseason while also dealing with injuries at center and right guard in the preseason. Starting center Khaled Holmes has missed the past two games with an ankle injury and guard Jack Mewhort missed a game with a knee issue.

"I don't think it's where we want it," Pagano said about their ground game. "I think we're headed in the right direction. ...We're still working at it. We've had some lineup changes, obviously, on the offensive line. We went through a whole season last year with that, from a continuity standpoint getting those guys together. We got (tight end) Dwayne (Allen) back."

Quarterback Andrew Luck added, "We know if we want to be a consistently good offense we have to be balanced. We have to throw, we have to run. It takes everybody."

Richardson's struggles from last season still remain, as he's only averaging 2.6 yards an attempt in the preseason. Bradshaw made his preseason debut against the New Orleans Saints last weekend.

Herron has been the most effective running back for the Colts in the preseason. He's rushed for 104 yards, including a 43-yard run against the Saints, on 18 attempts. The majority of Herron's yards, though, have come against backups. He's also returning kickoffs.

"I don't look at it that way," Pagano said. "I just know Boom has had a really good camp and a good preseason. He's made some nice runs. It's comforting knowing that you have a guy that not only excels on special teams, but you've got another guy in the backfield that can run and get yards for you when you need them."

Herron entered training camp as a longshot to make the roster, but a season-ending torn Achilles by Vick Ballard and Chris Rainey's immaturity, which is why he was released, has allowed Herron to put his skills on display even more.

"It's a great opportunity right now for me," Herron said. "I come here every day like it's my first day and the coaches know nothing about me. I try to work as hard as I can and just try to showcase what I can."

Should the Colts pursue Alex Boone?

August, 25, 2014
Aug 25
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INDIANAPOLIS -- San Francisco guard Alex Boone continues to hold out as he hopes to land a new contract. The Indianapolis Colts need help on the interior part of the offensive line.

Boone
So should the Colts try to acquire Boone from the 49ers?

The answer is yes.

Of course the 49ers would have to be willing to trade Boone, and the reports out of the Bay Area are that they’re not interested in trading him.

The 49ers would likely want a high draft pick to trade Boone. If that’s the case, you have to wonder if Colts general manager Ryan Grigson would give up a high pick for Boone considering how the Trent Richardson trade has gone for them so far.

Just like last season, the interior part of the offensive line remains a question because of inexperience and injuries.

The Colts' goal -- as evidenced by the players wearing t-shirts that feature the Lombardi Trophy -- is to win a Super Bowl this season. They don’t have time to sit back and wait for the interior part of the line to develop.

It’s all about production, and that’s what Boone would give if Indianapolis found a way to acquire him.

So should the Colts pursue Boone, or hope the young players quickly develop?
Examining the Indianapolis Colts' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
This is the safest position on the roster for the Colts. They plan to always keep a veteran backup if Luck ever goes down with an injury.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

The Colts' running game took a hit when Vick Ballard was lost for the season with a torn Achilles. Chris Rainey, who had the inside track on being the No. 3 running back, was recently released after violating team rules. Harvey, who has made the switch from linebacker, has moved ahead of Stanley Havili to be the team's fullback because Havili is on the physically unable to perform list.

RECEIVERS (5)

The final receiver spot will come down to Rogers and Griff Whalen. If the Colts want to play it safe, Whalen is the guy because he is familiar with Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, but Rogers has the size and speed the team likes. There is also the possibility the Colts keep six receivers.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

Allen, who missed all but one game in 2013, and Fleener have the potential to be one of the top tight end duos in the league. Doyle and Saunders are both familiar with the system after backing up Fleener in Allen’s absence last season.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

There are plenty of questions surrounding the offensive line outside of tackles Castonzo and Cherilus, especially with Donald Thomas (quad) out for the season. The one thing general manager Ryan Grigson wanted with this group is depth. The Colts have plenty of it.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)

Like the offensive line, the Colts want depth on the defensive line so they can constantly rotate in players, so come the fourth quarter they still have fresh legs to get after the opponent. Jones was the key offseason acquisition for the Colts. Chapman showed flashes last season; now he needs to do it every snap that he is on the field. McKinney makes the roster now that Jeris Pendleton is out for the season with a torn ACL.

LINEBACKERS (10)

All eyes will be on outside linebacker as the Colts look to find a replacement for Mathis, who is suspended for the first four games of the season. Werner gets the first crack at starting in Mathis’ spot. McNary is a player for whom Grigson has high expectations. It will be up to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on how he uses McNary.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)

It is anybody’s guess how the secondary will perform. It is anybody’s guess who will start alongside Landry at safety. It looked like it would be Howell early in the offseason, but the Colts signed the veteran Adams in June. Can Toler finally remain healthy? Can Davis live up to his contract? So many questions with no answers at the moment.

SPECIALIST (3)

This only changes if an injury occurs.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The struggles on defense were obvious for the Indianapolis Colts. The countless missed tackles gave that away.

But their franchise player, quarterback Andrew Luck, didn’t play well, either.

Luck
And in typical Andrew Luck fashion, the quarterback didn’t shy away from criticizing himself.

“Disappointed in myself,” he said. “...A lot of mistakes. I know I made a lot of mistakes that need to be corrected if we’re going to have a chance to be a good offense.”

Luck, who played into the third quarter, was 10-of-18 for 103 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Saints took advantage of the Colts’ inconsistent pass protection to put a lot of pressure on Luck, keeping him from getting in sync.

Luck’s lone touchdown came when he hit a wide-open Coby Fleener, who went untouched off the line of scrimmage. But Luck overthrew and underthrew his intended targets on several occasions.

Luck paid the price for underthrowing Fleener on their series following the touchdown, as New Orleans safety Kenny Vaccaro had an easy interception.

The Colts quarterback did lead the team on a 78-yard drive during their two-minute offense at the end of the first half. That drive stalled out in the red zone though, forcing the Colts to settle for a field goal.

The first-team offense generated 10 points and 167 yards in their six series.

“We didn’t establish a good rhythm,” Luck said. “We did some good things as well though, we did get a touchdown drive. The two-minute drive, a lot of good things until we get stuck down at the goal line. We need seven points there, we’ve got to find a way to get seven. So good to get out, get the work. It will be a good couple of weeks of work for Cincinnati, and then the start of the regular season.”

Is there a need to be nervous? No.

Luck will be fine. Saturday was the first time receiver Reggie Wayne played this preseason and it was also the preseason debut for running back Ahmad Bradshaw. The offense has two weeks to figure things out before facing the Denver Broncos on Sept. 7.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The ovation started as he was introduced last with the offensive starters and included a point to the sky.

Reggie Wayne was back.

Bush
Wayne
 The Indianapolis Colts veteran receiver didn’t have any catches -- the two he made were taken away because of penalties -- but he was back on the field for the first time in 10 months. That’s all that matter Saturday night against the New Orleans Saints.

“It was good to catch the football and get a real live game under my belt,” Wayne said. “There’s no way you can simulate that. That’s what I said last week. It was an opportunity for me to go out there, and there was some real live bullets flying at me so it was good. One down.”

Wayne, who tore his ACL in Week 7 last season, talked to Chuck Pagano on Friday, and his coach told him he’d let him know Saturday if he would play.

“It was tremendous,” Pagano said about having Wayne back. “For him, and anybody that has the opportunity and goes through something like that, especially Reggie at his age, being able to rehab and be back on the football field. You get great football players, guys that love the game like Reggie loves the game ... for all of us, it was great to see him back out there and get a little burn as we like to call it so that was good."

The Colts scripted the first play to go to Wayne where quarterback Andrew Luck rolled out and hit his favorite target along the Colts’ sideline.

It didn’t count.

Receiver T.Y. Hilton was called for being offside.

Luck went to Wayne again on the next series.

No go, again.

The play was wiped out because of a Saints penalty.

“I was already messing with T.Y. saying, ‘Who are you working for? You’re on the other side with the officials,’” Wayne joked. “Thankfully, it was the preseason, and it didn't hurt anything.”

Wayne’s final stat line didn’t mean anything. That's fine. The only thing anybody cared about was that the 35-year-old was back.

“I know the fans were excited, and I know everybody on the sidelines was excited, and we were excited on the field to have him out there,” Luck said. “Good for him to get some touches and get hit, I think. He always has that great look in his eye when he’s on the football field.”

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