AFC South: Joseph Addai

Reggie Wayne about to join elite company

October, 14, 2013
WayneIcon SMIJust four catches shy, Colts wideout Reggie Wayne is on the brink of 1,000 career receptions.
SAN DIEGO -- It’s a good thing Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne is having a Hall of Fame NFL career because he probably would have never made it as a home interior designer.

Go back 12 years, and Wayne, like a lot athletes, had a trophy case and hung footballs on the wall for those special moments in his career. That was a good thought and all, but the touchdown-grabbing Wayne soon looked around and noticed he was running out of space.

“I guess I didn’t think that through,” Wayne said, laughing. “I should have known I was going to catch more than eight touchdowns. My wife looked up and she was like, 'You’re just going to have a wall of footballs.' I had to stop that. Now they’re in a big pile. Every once in a while I go through them and look at them and try to remember that catch. I’ve never been good at that.”

Wayne will have to find some space for the ball he catches for his fourth reception in Monday’s game against the San Diego Chargers.

He's four catches shy of becoming the ninth player in league history with at least 1,000 career receptions. Former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison is third on the list with 1,102 catches.

“When I first got in, I just wanted to feel like I was part of the family,” Wayne said. “You don’t look down 13 years later and expect yourself to still be playing. A thousand catches, that’s not something I ever dreamed of. It’s kind of a weird feeling. It feels kind of weird to talk about it. But I’m happy. I guess that just shows that I’ve been playing for a long time.”

Wayne has caught passes from six quarterbacks and one running back (Joseph Addai) in his career. Peyton Manning leads the way, completing 779 passes and 67 touchdowns to Wayne.

Wayne still remembers his first touchdown catch -- a 43-yarder that bounced out of the hands of Houston Texans cornerback Marcus Coleman; he tried to put a hole in the ground by spiking the ball so hard -- on Sept. 22, 2002.

There’s also Wayne’s 53-yard touchdown catch in the rain of Super Bowl XLI, the favorite of Manning and former coach Tony Dungy, according to

You also can’t forget about Wayne’s game-winning touchdown catch against the Green Bay Packers last season to go with the countless one-handed grabs he's had.

The list goes on and on. Nine hundred and ninety-six long to be precise.

"He came in from day one you could see the talent was there, but his work ethic, his passion for the game, the way he studied and the time that he put in, things that he sacrificed, it was real evident early on," said Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who was on the University of Miami staff when Wayne played there. "Certainly you can’t predict the type of numbers and years because of health issues and all those things, but we knew early on that he was going to be a great player.”

Wayne’s frame of mind of just wanting to be “part of the family” with the Colts is still here today. After 996 receptions, 13,428 yards and 80 touchdowns, Wayne still believes he has to prove himself.

He enters training camp every season wanting to convince the coaching staff that he’s still an asset to the team, not a liability that can be replaced by a younger, cheaper player at his position.

“One thing about it, especially when you get in the latter part of your years, let’s be honest, they’re trying to replace you,” the 34-year-old Wayne said. “I want them to say, ‘It’s not time yet, we can’t replace him yet. He’s bringing this much to the table.’ That’s the kind of attitude I bring to it.

“The thing about this game, I think guys who have played for a long time, I think boredom [sets in] because they keep doing the same thing over and over. I go into it like I’m a rookie. I do everything like I’m a rookie and then go from there.”

Wayne even tells his coaches to treat him like he’s a rookie. That means telling him when he does something wrong.

Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton doesn’t call out his receivers when they drop a ball during a game. He tells them they’ll be going back to them at some point in the game. It’s a different story when they’re behind closed doors during the film session.

“He understands it’s never personal,” Hamilton said about Wayne. “It’s just constructive criticism. I don’t think there’s a lot you need to say to a guy like Reggie Wayne as far as what he needs to do to catch the football. He works as hard as anybody in this building on a football team at mastering his skill set, mastering his craft. His numbers kind of speak for themselves, speaks for itself as far as his production over the years.”

And that's why Wayne is about to join the 1,000-catch club.
Some Colts fans have been in touch, confused about the awarding of compensatory draft picks. The Colts were awarded one pick, the final pick of the draft (No. 254).

But in the league's formula that figures out who gets what in terms of the extra draft selections, Indianapolis didn't actually "earn" a pick. Compensatory picks add the equivalent of one round worth of selections to the draft. When there aren't enough awarded by the formula, the league adds picks for the near misses until it gets to 32.

One thing many people forget is that many of the biggest losses for the Colts were released. Only players who reach free agency with expiring contracts count here. So Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett and Curtis Painter were all let go and didn't factor in at all.

According to the NFL, these are the players who did factor into the equation for compensatory draft picks for Indianapolis.

Players lost: Jamaal Anderson (Cincinnati), Pierre Garcon (Washington), Dan Orlovsky (Tampa Bay), Jeff Saturday (Green Bay), Jacob Tamme (Denver), Philip Wheeler (Oakland).

Players signed: Guard Mike McGlynn, defensive tackle Brandon McKinney, defensive end Cory Redding, center Samson Satele, quarterback Drew Stanton and safety Tom Zbikowski.

Stanton counted despite the fact that the Colts traded for him, because he was signed by the Jets as a free agent in 2012 before that deal. A player with such circumstances is part of the formula.

Garcon was the lone giant contract on either side of that ledger, and apparently the Colts did enough to offset that signing with what they brought in.

Here's the league's language explaining the process.
Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks.

The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four. The 32 compensatory choices announced today will supplement the 222 choices in the seven rounds of the 2013 NFL draft (April 25-27), which will kick off in prime time for the fourth consecutive year.

The first round will be held on Thursday, April 25 and begin at 8 p.m. ET. The second and third rounds are set for Friday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. ET followed by rounds 4-7 on Saturday, April 27 at Noon ET.

This year, the compensatory picks will be positioned within the third through seventh rounds based on the value of the compensatory free agents lost.

Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. The formula was developed by the NFL Management Council. Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula.

Two clubs this year (Indianapolis and the New York Giants) will each receive a compensatory pick even though they did not suffer a net loss of compensatory free agents last year. Under the formula, the compensatory free agents lost by these clubs were ranked higher than the ones they signed (by a specified point differential based upon salary and performance).

Colts rookie minicamp review

May, 7, 2012
A review of what was learned from the Colts’ rookie minicamp.

  • Peyton Manning didn’t like quarterbacks being set apart by wearing red jerseys. But the new regime has Andrew Luck and the rest of the quarterbacks in the traditional stop sign garb, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star. Manning didn’t like anything that separated the quarterbacks from the rest of the team, but now the Colts are using the same sort of caution used around the league.
  • Chuck Pagano and his staff intentionally overloaded the rookies, and say they will figure it all out later, writes Chappell.
  • The team is steering clear of the word rebuilding. It’s all semantics, but “rebuilding” has kind of become a taboo term around the league. Frame it any way you like, guys, you’re rebuilding.
  • The Colts added no cornerbacks in the draft. Out of the undrafted rookies, Chappell said Wisconsin's Antonio Fenelus and Pittsburgh's Buddy Jackson worked as the starters, with Maryland's Cameron Chism being added to the mix in nickel situations. So those are the guys to keep an eye on when the whole team gets together.
  • Joseph Addai signed with the Patriots, where I think he can contribute in spots. Chappell thought the Colts should have brought him back, and that he would have been an ideal situational player. I can see that stance, but in clearing the roster and clearing the books, it made sense to part ways.
  • June 13th’s full-team minicamp practice will be at Lucas Oil Stadium and be open to the public.
  • Luck finished off the minicamp with a touchdown pass, says Chappell. Now he’s back to school, and he can’t return until his class’ work at Stanford is finished. The rule isn’t the same for tight end Coby Fleener, because he’s already finished his undergraduate work. Two others will also miss a lot of work between now and early June: wide receivers Griff Whalen (Stanford) and LaVon Brazill (Ohio).
At least as Peyton Manning shopped around, he was pretty much invisible.

Today, Indianapolis Colts fans had to see him hold up an orange jersey with his name and the No. 18 on it, then stand in front of a blue banner decorated with Denver Broncos and Sports Authority logos while talking about a comfort level and gut feeling that steered him to his new team.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Ron Chenoy/US PresswirePeyton Manning, who signed a five-year deal Tuesday, says Denver is the best fit for him.

For Tennessee Titans fans still reeling from Manning picking the Broncos instead, don’t read between the lines. He praised Denver for being committed to winning. He can compliment his new team without it being an insult to the runners-up, the Titans and 49ers.

He did not say those franchises are not committed to winning.

“In the end I felt the Broncos were just a great fit,” he said. “... I’ve always believed it’s up to me and the people around me to make this the right decision. You know, it’ll be speculated on and debated for months to come whether it was the right decision or not. I’m going to go out and try to make it the right decision.”

Make that years to come.

A couple other things of note from our perspective at AFC South headquarters:

On standing in front of a logo that’s not a horseshoe: “It’s certainly very different,” he said. “There is no question about it. This will take some time for me to get comfortable with. This is all new to me. You’re talking about a guy that was one team for 14 years. ...

“The Indianapolis Colts are the only team that I’ve ever known. I told John [Elway] and coach [John] Fox that I am going to need their help to help me sort of get through this transition. ...

“I think the sooner that I get started going to work, going to life weights, getting into my new locker, putting on some Denver Broncos gear, getting going, that’s all going to make this process easier for me.”

On the timing: Manning was apologetic for having any negative impact on things with the two teams he didn’t select.

“The process, it took some time,” he said. “It’s the only way I knew to do it. I hated that it took time, that other teams maybe got put in tough positions. I hate that about it. But it’s the only way I knew to do the process, to find out what makes the most sense. I’m glad all that part’s over with. I can get down to football now. ...”

“I’m sorry that it took long. I didn’t know what the baseline was. The baseline for me was to feel good about a decision and then go out and make it the right decision.”

On his powers: He’ll offer opinions when asked. But he stressed he’s not in Denver to coordinate the offense or make personnel decisions.

Yes, he’ll be influential. But being a franchise quarterback is a full-time job. It’s silly, really, that so many people need to be reminded.

Center Jeff Saturday has a visit scheduled with the Broncos. Speculation is rampant that tight end Dallas Clark, tight end Jacob Tamme, running back Joseph Addai and/or former offensive coordinator Tom Moore in some role could follow Manning to Denver.

“There is never a teammate that I’ve had that I didn’t want to play with for the rest of my life, I’ve always said that,” Manning said. “Guys who played in Indianapolis, it was hard to see them retire or move on. ...I know there are some players out there that the Broncos are looking at.

“When asked about those players I told them exactly how I felt about the great teammates that I’ve had. But once again when it comes to personnel, that’s just not my department. They’re going to do whatever it takes to get the best players here to help us win games and that’s all I want.”

On his sales pitch: He didn’t put on a hard sell to the three teams he wound up choosing from.

He offered up his medical records since 1998 and he threw about 60 balls for teams, asking them if they needed to see anything else.

He said he told teams what still felt awkward or shaky. And after providing all that info, he asked them if they still were interested. He said he was pleased and encouraged that they were.

Video: Clayton on Colts' latest cuts

March, 9, 2012
At the news conference making Peyton Manning’s release official, Colts owner Jim Irsay indicated more roster moves were pending.

They came down Friday, and the remaining roster is a barren landscape.

Gone are halfback Joseph Addai, tight end Dallas Clark, safety Melvin Bullitt, linebacker Gary Brackett, and quarterback Curtis Painter.

All but Painter are proven players who played important roles in the system the team run under the team’s top executive, Bill Polian, and coaches Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell.

Those three powers are gone, and new GM Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano are starting with a virtual clean slate.

Addai is not the type of back the team will want as it looks to get bigger and more powerful. Clark, Bullitt and Brackett are officially injury-prone and aging.

Some of these moves bring accelerated cap hits, and might cost more than the significant salaries the players were scheduled to make will save.

But in a year, the team should be in much better financial shape -- and be adding instead of subtracting.

The next big question is defensive end Dwight Freeney, who's due $14 million this season and carries a $19 million cap number.

What I'd do if I ran the Colts

March, 1, 2012
The money isn’t mine. I’m not certain about what you can afford and what the market will pay when free agency opens on March 13. I’m not positive about your plans and schemes.

But I’ve got a good sense of your team. We've looked at the free-agent list.

And here’s what I’d try to do with your major issues:

1) Tell Peyton Manning thanks for everything. Say we had every intention of you playing out your career with the Colts, but the chances of all these elements aligning -- his health questions, a new GM and coach, the top pick and Andrew Luck’s availability -- make it impossible. Maximize your graciousness.

2) Assessing what will be available in the draft, or a relatively inexpensive free agent or two you’d like to grab, then franchise either defensive end Robert Mathis or receiver Reggie Wayne accordingly. Both will have great chances to move on in free agency, and you can’t afford to move forward without them, either. You can make a case either way -- Mathis would be a great piece in a transformation to a 3-4; Wayne would reliably be in place to convert third downs for a young quarterback.

3) Convince defensive end Dwight Freeney to sign an extension. You have to drive down his $19 million-plus cap hit and his $14 million-plus base salary for 2012. But cutting him would be awfully painful, especially if Mathis is getting to free agency. If Freeney has to go because of cost, then Mathis has to be tagged and Wayne is likely lost.

4) Look for cost savings with these players: Tight end Dallas Clark ($7.32 million cap hit, $4.53 million base), middle linebacker Gary Brackett ($7.4 million cap hit, $5 million base), running back Joseph Addai ($4.3 million cap hit, $2.9 million base), and safety Melvin Bullitt ($3.7 million cap hit, $2.4 million base). Brackett and Bullitt are now injury prone and I don't know if you can count on them. But just cutting them won’t necessarily save money as accelerated bonus cost could produce a cost approaching their scheduled cap numbers. Same with Addai, who may not fit with a new run philosophy.

5) Let receiver Pierre Garcon walk. The guy is a blazer who will make a good amount of big plays, but he’s not guaranteed reliable in big moments. The sort of drops and gaffes he’s capable of can really mess with a team trying to build confidence and he'll be overpaid by the market.

6) Try to get Jeff Saturday to sign up for one more year. He’d be a great influence on Luck and a young team and could help get a group of young linemen ready to protect the new centerpiece and to block for a newly emphasized run game.

7) Re-sign reserve quarterback Dan Orlovsky, tight end Jacob Tamme and receiver Anthony Gonzalez cheaply if you can. Orlovsky can spot start if need be and it’ll be difficult to find a quality backup who wants to come to be No. 2 to Luck. Tamme has quality hands. Gonzalez was highly rated not too long ago and a doghouse visit under the last regime will make him affordable. It’s worth trying to keep them around at reasonable cost and they are unlikely to draw significant offers elsewhere.

8) Let three other free agents walk: linebacker Philip Wheeler, guard Mike Pollack and tackle Ryan Diem.

Looking at the Colts use of fullbacks

December, 28, 2011
The moment they knew they’d be without Peyton Manning for all or most of the season, the Indianapolis Colts should have shifted gears on offense.

No, they were not built to be a power running attack. But it’s easier to be run-heavy than pass-heavy when you’re lacking offensive talent. And with two bad quarterbacks in Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky, it was crazy not to attempt a more dramatic shift than the one the Colts have made.

The Colts' lack of any big alteration is the biggest negative attached to Jim Caldwell for me as the team prepares to finish a 2-14 or 3-13 season.

Indianapolis has run the ball more often -- on 42.2 percent of its snaps vs. 36.7 in 2010 with Manning playing. The Colts, who have not been a fullback team throughout most of the Manning era, have used a fullback on 11.2 percent of their offensive snaps.

“We actually made an adjustment early on (regarding the fullback spot) and a matter of fact one of the guys got hurt after about four or five plays during the course of one game and so we had to adjust a little bit,” Caldwell told Jacksonville media on a conference call Wednesday. “But it was something we tried to focus in on once we realized exactly what was going to happen in terms of our overall offense, that we had to make an adjustment to run the ball a little bit more and so we went out to find a few guys to help us at that position.”

That injury was to Chris Gronkowski. He was claimed off waivers from Dallas on Sept. 4, and then used sparingly in seven games before landing on IR after getting hurt against New Orleans on Oct. 23. He landed on IR and the Colts added fullback Ryan Mahaffey on Nov. 16 and fullback Jerome Felton (who started at New England) on Nov. 28.

Over the past five weeks, according to John McTigue of ESPN Stats & Info, Mahaffey or Felton has been on the field for the Colts on 25.1 percent of their snaps.

“We have made some adjustments in that area,” Caldwell said. “We typically didn’t carry a fullback very often and now we obviously have two on our roster and they’ve been able to help us. We’ve been using a little bit more two-back stuff of late, kind of mixing it in with some of the one-back stuff that we do. Both guys have done a nice job for us so they’ve helped us I think in the running game and that’s one of the areas I think we’ve been fairly consistent, but we’re trying to get better all the time.”

Said running back Joseph Addai: "You get different looks. Are you asking me do I like it? Yeah, I like it. It's really my first time playing with a fullback in my career. At LSU we kind of did what we did here, a tight end played fullback or whatever. I think it will be a good look for us."

But a fullback alone hasn’t been sufficient to make a difference in the run game. Indianapolis’ average run this season has been 4.6 yards without a fullback and 3.7 yards with one.

Finding the right recipe to run most effectively -- with a fullback, with an H-back or with the field spread with three wides -- may sound easier than it is. But it should have been priority one for the Colts as soon as Manning wasn’t at quarterback.

To be a better football team than they've been, they needed to be better than the league’s 24th-ranked run offense.

Reggie Wayne, Jeff Saturday and Robert MathisUS Presswire, Getty Images, Getty ImagesThursday could be the last home game for Colts Reggie Wayne, Jeff Saturday and Robert Mathis.

INDIANAPOLIS -- There’ll be no ceremony at Lucas Oil Stadium tonight. No formal passing of the torch from the Colts to the Texans as kings of the AFC South, and no official commemoration of the careers of three huge contributors who may be wearing horse shoes on their helmets for a final home game.

But the knowledgeable fans of the Indianapolis Colts will find a moment to focus on receiver Reggie Wayne, center Jeff Saturday and defensive end Robert Mathis, knowing that the team staples with expiring contracts may soon depart.

Quarterback Peyton Manning defined the era more than anyone, and he might also be on the sideline for the final time, but he’s not playing. Neither is linebacker Gary Brackett, who could be a cap casualty. It could be a swan song, too, for often-injured tight end Dallas Clark, who’s doubtful against the Texans.

However, the focus during a Thursday night game that figured to have larger consequences when the schedule was drawn up should be on Wayne, Saturday and Mathis.

“We’re like three steel poles in the Colts’ foundation,” Mathis said. “We helped get this team to where it is. Our heart is here. But it’s a business, and we can’t take it personally, whatever they decide.”

Said Wayne: “I’ll just keep playing. Whatever happens is going to happen anyway, it’s already written, I can’t control that, I don’t have a magic eraser. It’s a big prime-time game. If it’s going to be my last one here, then let’s go out with a bang.”

“I’ve been here 11 years. Anything you put that much time or effort into, you would think there would be some sort of sentimental value to. You don’t want to lose anything that means something to you. This city has shown me nothing but love.”

Whether they admit it or not, the other three teams in the division have been built to challenge the Colts. The Texans drafted outside linebacker Mario Williams first overall in 2006 in large part to threaten Manning. As the league has become more pass-happy, the Colts' divisional challengers have been largely run-based, to try to keep their offenses on the field and the ball out of Manning’s hand.

“They’ve been the standard of the division obviously, with the success they’ve had over multiple years,” said Houston general manager Rick Smith, who assumed his post in 2006, after Williams had been drafted. “But you can’t stand in awe of anybody and we feel like we’ve played some solid games against them in the past.

“Our thing hasn’t really been focused on Indianapolis, it’s been about what we’re doing. You’ve got to respect what they’ve done and the job that they’ve done for the number of years that they’ve done it. But what we’ve been doing is focused on trying to get our program up to speed and put ourselves into position where we could have that sustained success for a number of years.”

And like the Colts, the new AFC South champs have a similar trio in the same positions as Wayne, Saturday and Mathis in Andre Johnson, Chris Myers and Williams.

Like their Indianapolis counterparts, they are regarded as premier players at their position. Houston hopes they will be steel poles of a Texans’ foundation for years to come.

Johnson, Myers and Williams reflected on the Colts in recent days.

Here’s some insight into what the three guys who might be playing for Indy for the final time have meant to the division and to guys who aim to follow a similar path.

Johnson on Wayne: “He’s a route technician. I sat and watched and learned from him at Miami. He took me under his wing. He works hard at everything he does, everything. He’s committed. His numbers speak for themselves. In every conversation about the best receivers in the league, his name comes up.

“I can’t imagine him in another uniform, and for it to end like this. After 11, 12, 13, 14 wins every year, it’s crazy.

Myers on Saturday: “He has real good technique. Obviously it’s a different team with a different offense. But he’s a tremendous pass blocker, and they’ve had success running the ball as well with Edgerrin James and Joseph Addai for years. He’s a little bit shorter, he’s got that leverage on guys. In his prime, he’s been able to get a hand on guys and just lock guys out, that’s what he’s been known for.

“When you’re watching defenses, you watch the other center. And I’ve tried to get pointers from each guy. For a long time I’ve been watching how he pass protects.”

Williams on Mathis: “Not taking anything away from Dwight Freeney, but I think Mathis has been a key to their defense. Watching him play and how his motor goes every play, it’s not just the pass, but he’s phenomenal against the run. I guess you could say he’s undersized, but he holds his own against the run as well as the pass. I think he doesn’t get enough credit for his play against the run.”

I have trouble picturing Saturday playing elsewhere, but he certainly could. Wayne and Mathis would be attractive free agents if they hit the market.

And they could conceivably land within the division.

Mathis could be the edge rusher Jacksonville needs to round out its defense. And Wayne could be an excellent complement to Johnson in Houston.

“We joke about it all the time,” Johnson said. “If Reggie’s on the market, I’ll be a big recruiter. I’m pretty sure my coaches know that.”

Talk of a possible future life as a Texan made Wayne laugh.

“I’m sure he’s got some hammies he needs to worry about first,” he said, referring to hamstring injuries that have cost Johnson much of the season and will keep him out against the Colts. “And I am sure their team is ecstatic about their first playoff opportunity…

“If Dre is going to politic for me, he’s got enough time to do it.”

Polian talks through Manning's work

December, 18, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts were obviously ticked off by a report Sunday by Fox’s Jay Glazer that Peyton Manning worked after practice last week in pads with teammates.

The Colts clearly felt the report was suggesting they’d done something wrong. So after Jim Caldwell met with the media following his team’s 27-13 win over Tennessee, vice chairman Bill Polian spoke about what Manning did this week.

I was there, but wanted to get you this quickly.

So here’s the team’s transcript of what he said.
“I’m here to set the record straight about ramped speculation that has gone on all morning and afternoon regarding Peyton Manning’s activities this past week, and his future with respect to playing and practicing this season.

“Wednesday, after we finished our full team practice, Peyton went through a prescribed rehabilitation session, which consisted of about 30 throws and seven or eight handoffs. Involved in that session were Joseph Addai, Jeff Saturday, snapping the ball, Anthony Gonzalez and a practice squad receiver. Peyton wore pads and a helmet, which he is allowed to do by rule and by CBA. There was a tape of that workout, which I attended and which Coach Caldwell attended.

“His throws were scripted at his request, meaning that he made specific throws with respect to the kinds of plays that we would run in a ballgame. The reason for that is because the strength and conditioning folks and the therapy folks felt that was the best way to ramp-up the kinesiology of the muscle use.

“I want to emphasize here that we broke no rule. We had no obligation to report that workout, (because) it was a post-practice rehabilitation workout, which is perfectly and completely legal. We have the tape of it, as I mentioned, and if anyone at the league office has any questions regarding it, and no one has asked, we would be happy to supply the tape.

“On Thursday we met with the doctors, the rehabilitation folks, the strength and conditioning folks and our training staff, and in that meeting we outlined where Peyton was and where he might be expected to go in the future. With respect to that meeting it was determined by the doctors that there was no chance that he would play this year. His rehabilitation has not come far enough to make it prudent for him to step on the field in game action.

“He may practice in some very scripted and circumscribed circumstances if he wishes, that is entirely up to him. He will be thinking that through, and probably, I would suspect given the short week, that it probably is not an issue this coming week. But he will not play, either in the upcoming game on Thursday night or in the last game in Jacksonville. That decision was made last Thursday by the medical people.

“That is consistent with what Jim Irsay and I have said all year, so there is absolutely no change in our position. We have said that we kept him active in order for him to get back into practice, if that was possible, that was the reason for keeping him active. Jim (Caldwell) said as recently, I believe, as a couple of weeks ago, that he doubted very seriously if Peyton would play, and that was an appropriate judgment on his part.

“I hope that this puts this speculation to rest, and that we can correctly celebrate the great effort that our guys made and our coaches made this afternoon.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- The story of Titans-Colts in the first half has been the Indianapolis pass rush.

Matt Hasselbeck has not been sacked, but he has had little time to throw and has been forced repeatedly to dump the ball off. He floated a completion 22 yards to Lavelle Hawkins up the right sideline just before the half, and that set up a go-ahead field goal.

Tennessee is up 6-3 at the half of an ugly game.

We’ve seen 10 punts, eight first downs and seven penalties.

Two things suggest the Colts could break into the win column.

That steady pass rush that’s making it hard for the Titans to find anything significant in the passing game, and some steady running by the Colts' trio of Joseph Addai, Donald Brown and Delone Carter. Carter has a forearm injury.

Tennessee needs to find a couple big plays. If it does, it will be alright. If it can’t, the Titans are in serious jeopardy and the Colts will be celebrating for the first time all season.

Inactives: Knighton, Addai, Ruud are out

November, 13, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. -- The biggest inactive in the AFC South Sunday is Jacksonville defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, who’s out with a foot injury he suffered last week.

C.J. Mosley will start next to Tyson Alualu in Knighton’s place.

Running back Joseph Addai is out for the Colts, and Donald Brown will start. In Carolina, rookie Colin McCarthy gets the start at middle linebacker for Barrett Ruud, who’s a scratch.

Here at Raymond James Stadium, the Buccaneers are jumping right in with Albert Haynesworth, who will start. Quinton Demps will work as the kick returner for Houston with Sherrick McManis out.

The full inactives list from Tampa:

Tampa Bay:
The Colts thought about placing Peyton Manning on injured reserve recently as injuries stacked up, but found a way to stick with their plan. Team president-turned-vice chairman Bill Polian said the team’s intention is to keep the quarterback on the roster all season in the hope that he will be able to practice with the team late in the season.

From Polian’s Monday night radio show:
"I think it's important for [Manning] to feel like, 'Hey, I'm back, I can do the things that are necessary to say I can play like I want to.’ The bottom line is he needs to feel good about being back and doing the things he wants to do."

But an appearance by Manning in a game sounds unlikely.

"I'm not sure we would necessarily play him in ballgames with our offensive line as beaten up as it is right now,” Polian said.

Those offensive line injuries made the Colts consider putting Manning on the shelf. But they made roster moves instead last week, including putting quarterback Kerry Collins (concussion) on IR.

Why Manning is not on IR has been a hugely popular question.

I’ve argued that it’s not a big deal to keep a roster spot for him so long as the team doesn’t have eight players with injuries that keep them out of action on a given Sunday. The Colts have to deactivate seven players for every game anyway, and if they don’t need Manning’s spot for someone else, then they aren’t giving up anything on game day.

But in the loss to the Titans on Sunday, both running back Joseph Addai (hamstring) and guard Mike Pollak (hamstring) were in uniform but did not play.

That means the Colts played a 44-man roster as opposed to 46, a decision that could put the team at a disadvantage.

Polian’s weighed that and decided being a bit thin on a Sunday is worth the trade off to keep alive the chance for Manning to practice down the line.

Colts offense scrambled by injuries

October, 30, 2011
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After crossing off inactives and drawing lines to move guys around and up the depth chart, my flip card for the Colts' offense looks silly.

Ryan Diem, Anthony Castonzo and Joe Reitz all didn’t travel.

So the line will look like this:

LT Jeff Linkenbach, LG Seth Olsen, C Jeff Saturday, RG Mike Tepper, RT Quinn Ojinnaka.

Three of those players -- Olsen, Tepper and Ojinnaka – were not on the Colts' opening day roster.

The group will start out blocking for running back Delone Carter, who is starting ahead of the injured Joseph Addai, who is dressed.

On defense, cornerback Jacob Lacey is a scratch and will be replaced by Kevin Thomas.

The Titans suffer one big lineup loss. Their primary blocking tight end, Craig Stevens, is out with a rib injury and Daniel Graham will start in his place.

The full lists…


Breaking down Colts as they break down

October, 27, 2011
Peyton ManningDerick E. Hingle/US PresswireThe Colts were clearly ill-prepared for life without star quarterback Peyton Manning.
It’s ugly in Indianapolis.

At 0-7, the Colts are talking about sticking together, improving and giving themselves a chance to win.

But as they prepare for a trip to Nashville for a Sunday meeting with the Titans at LP Field, they are a severely broken team. Where they would be with Peyton Manning is an interesting hypothetical question, but we’re dealing with realities. And those realities are the sort that will test the franchise’s stitching -- seamwork that might not hold together when this is all over.

Who’s at fault? Everyone’s got a hand in it, but let’s look at the Colts from a couple of angles.

A big cover-up: It’s not a secret that Manning has helped cover up a lot of flaws and allowed the franchise to under-address certain areas.

The Colts during the Manning era have never been much concerned with size, always valuing speed and instincts more. They’ve never worried about stocking special teams with any veteran backups, in part because they spend their money on stars or adding a high-quality return man. They’ve settled for being below average running the ball. And they’ve won despite a general inability to stop the run.

Without their four-time MVP running the offense, all those things are magnified in ways they’ve never been before.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. They’re built to have Manning at the controls, and he’s been there all the time from the very beginning in 1998 until opening day this season.

There are maybe two teams and markets in the league that would not trade for what the Colts have done since 1999. Twelve consecutive playoff seasons followed by one complete dud? Where do I sign up for that?

[+] EnlargeJacob Lacey
Michael Hickey/US PresswirePersonnel decisions by the Colts put cornerback Jacob Lacey, 27, in a prominent role in a secondary that has struggled this season.
Construct questions: That said, regardless of a serious neck surgery to the star quarterback, what exactly was the plan in the secondary? Is an evaluation that leaves Jacob Lacey, Terrence Johnson, Kevin Thomas and Chris Rucker as cornerbacks Nos. 2 through 5 good enough? Absolutely not.

The Colts get credit for adding a couple of outside veterans this season -- linebacker Ernie Sims, and defensive ends Jamaal Anderson and Tyler Brayton. But the drafting has dropped off.

Set aside the most recent class, as it’s too early to judge.

The Colts drafted 41 players from 2005 through 2010. I count one star, safety Antoine Bethea, and two guys who can become stars, linebacker Pat Angerer and receiver Austin Collie (if he’s working with Manning). Running back Joseph Addai is a good fit who does more than people think. And receiver Pierre Garcon and cornerback Jerraud Powers have been pretty solid starters.

Sure, the Colts drafted higher in the five years before. Still, those classes produced five guys who rank among the best players of their generation at their positions: tight end Dallas Clark, defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, safety Bob Sanders, and receiver Reggie Wayne. The next tier provided steady starters on the offensive line (Jake Scott, Ryan Diem) and at linebacker (David Thornton).

That list is more than a third of a starting team, a big-time core. As those guys age or disappear, I'm not seeing a core in waiting.

Colts president-turned-vice chairman Bill Polian said recently on his radio show that they needed to have done better recently, particularly at defensive tackle and cornerback.

And there is a domino effect to the problem. Find Tarik Glenn’s ultimate replacement at left tackle in 2007, and you don’t need to use your top pick in 2011 on Anthony Castonzo. Hit on Donald Brown in the first round in 2009, and Delone Carter might not be necessary in the fourth round in 2011.

The Polians: Bill Polian has been pulling back and yielding responsibility to his son, GM Chris Polian. (Chris politely declined to be interviewed for this story.)

We don’t yet have much tape on Chris Polian, so to speak. Bill Polian is a good talent evaluator who has had success in three NFL stops and has done well to build a team with which Manning has won. But Bill Polian also has overseen those recent draft drop-offs.

His strong-willed personality is part of what has made him good at his job, and his big-picture assessment of important league issues is as intelligent as anyone’s. He’s got clout and influence that extend beyond Indianapolis.

Stylistically, he’s a stubborn and demanding boss. There are indications from within that, without the steady stream of personnel hits he provided earlier in his tenure, some inside the building are tiring of the way things are run.

Bill Polian recently talked about how Curtis Painter's play vindicates the team for having faith in him, but failed to mention that faith was so strong that the team signed Kerry Collins to a $4 million contract shortly before the season started and handed him the starting job.

I suspect Bill Polian has the backing of owner Jim Irsay for as long as he wants it. That would ensure safety for Chris Polian, too.

Bill Polian made the Manning-over-Ryan Leaf call in 1998. Because of the way Leaf busted, people forget that was a coin flip at the time, that Leaf was regarded as a big-time prospect just as much as Manning was. Polian called it correctly, built a team that’s been to two Super Bowls and won one, got a new stadium built, and greatly enhanced the value of Irsay’s franchise.

Cryptic messages: Further complicating things is Irsay, who clearly gets a kick out of being the center of NFL attention in the Twitter-verse but has undermined some of his people with it.

He announced the team added Collins while coach Jim Caldwell was conducting his daily news conference. It did Caldwell no favors, as he appeared completely out of the loop.

Most recently, following the 62-7 loss in New Orleans on Sunday night, Irsay provided this gem:
“Titanic collapse, apologies 2 all ColtsNation...problems identifiable;solutions in progress but complex in nature/ better days will rise again”

A day later, he added:
"Just because you perceive problems on the horizon,and you possess solutions..doesn't mean they are avoidable and implementation is instant"

Solutions in progress, but complex in nature. That sounds to me like what would be written in big silver letters on the lobby wall of a consulting company on a TV show. Or a clever, but far-too-long name for a band.

It also sounds like change is going to come.

Coaching questions: While Bill Polian recently said that adding Jim Tressel to the staff as a replay consultant was Caldwell’s idea, it’s a weird-looking move that’s made some of us wonder whether a bigger role awaits the former Ohio State coach.

Caldwell does a nice job managing personalities, looking at things philosophically and staying on message. I believe he’s a good teacher, and his patient, quiet style is generally healthy for a team with a good share of veteran stars.

But he has blind spots, too, and is hardly a strategy master. There are bound to be significant changes at the conclusion of what’s sure to be a dreadful season, and he’ll be at the front of the line.

If he does the best job we can remember at holding a terrible, ineffective team together, is that enough? I’d guess not.

Injuries: This team gets hurt too much. There is a huge element of bad luck to it, of course. But is there something bigger at work as well?

Last season as quality players went down, Manning helped some role players such as tight end Jacob Tamme and receiver Blair White emerge. This season, guys such as linebacker Gary Brackett and safety Melvin Bullitt were lost for the season early, and there's been a revolving door on the offensive line because of injuries.

The Colts are constantly testing their depth and shuffling the back end of their roster. There is only so much shuffling a depth chart can handle.

I believe they need to attempt some change that might have a positive effect on their overall health -- whether it be adopting new training philosophies, altering how they evaluate prospects or changing personnel philosophies.

It's easy to ask them to figure out why they tend to suffer so many injuries, and it's hard to find an answer. But some sort of shift is due, even as we know it comes with no guarantee of better health.

When the current approach is failing, it's OK to try something else. It's not admitting some sort of failure; it's merely part of a necessary process of evaluating and revising operations.

Suck for Luck: Given a chance to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, I think the Colts would. Bill Polian can give Chris Polian the guy expected to be the NFL's next great quarterback, and Chris Polian's legacy would be built on a fantastic cornerstone.

But there is no losing on purpose to get in position for Luck. You think Wayne or Mathis is interested in such a master plan?

Said veteran center and team tone-setter Jeff Saturday: “I'll steal a Robert Mathis quote: 'I ain't sucking for anybody.'”