NFL Nation: Samson Satele

INDIANAPOLIS -- Center Phil Costa wasn't even around long enough to be asked about dating Hulk Hogan's daughter let alone possibly hike the ball to quarterback Andrew Luck with the Indianapolis Colts.

Costa, in a surprising announcement, has decided to retire.

"Phil feels it's in his best interest to retire from the game," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement released by the team. "We certainly understand and wish him nothing but the best."

The Colts signed Costa to a two-year, $2.7 million contract that included $450,000 guaranteed last month.

UPDATE: The Colts do not have to pay Costa any of the guaranteed money he was scheduled to make since he decided to retire.

The idea was for Costa to compete with Khaled Holmes for the starting center position, but I got the sense that the Colts were hoping Holmes would win the job. Costa, who started with the Dallas Cowboys in 2011, was beat out by rookie Travis Frederick last season.

Holmes only played 12 snaps and was a healthy inactive 11 times last season as a rookie.

Now the Colts are in serious of need of adding another center to the roster. This isn't a position they should be in with their franchise player Luck. The little bit of good news out of Costa telling the Colts he was retiring is that he did it now and not after training camp had already started. It gives Grigson some time to try to find another center to add to the roster.

Alex Mack?

Nope. The Cleveland Browns quickly matched the offer the Jacksonville Jaguars gave him.

Mike McGlynn?

McGlynn, who plays guard and center, was the best center on the Colts' roster last season, but the team had no interest in re-signing him. McGlynn is now with the Washington Redskins.

Samson Satele?

Next.

Kyle Cook, Mike Gibson and Steve Vallos are the three best centers still available on the free agent market, according to Bill Polian's free agent tracker.

Grigson said during the NFL owners' meetings last month that he wasn't overly impressed with the group of free agent centers.

That takes us to the draft. The Colts' first pick is not until No. 59 in the second round.

Here's a recap of the top 10 centers in the draft, according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.:

1. Marcus Martin, USC
2. Weston Richburg, Colorado St.
3. Russell Bodine, North Carolina
4. Travis Swanson, Arkansas
5. Jonotthan Harrison, Florida
6. Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
7. James Stone, Tennessee
8. Bryan Stork, Florida St.
9. Corey Linsley, Ohio St.
10. Tyler Larsen, Utah St.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The issues with the interior part of the Indianapolis Colts' offensive line have been obvious since before the middle of last season.

The Colts, they think, have addressed their center problems by releasing Samson Satele earlier this month and signing Phil Costa to compete with Khaled Holmes to be the starter.

Hugh Thornton will have a chance to hold down one of the guard positions. The other position will likely be taken by Donald Thomas next season.

Thomas only gave you a brief tease of what he can do in a Colts uniform because he didn’t make it through the second week of the season. Thomas’ first season with the Colts ended when he tore a tendon in his quad in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said Tuesday that Thomas also tore his biceps in the same game.

"In that same series," Grigson said. "And he played through a torn biceps. But you're not going to play through a torn quad."

Grigson referred to Thomas as being “on the right track” with working his way back from both of those injuries.

“With a guy like Donald, in a strange way, this is almost good for him,” Grigson said. “He’s one of those guys I really identify with. He’s always had a chip on his shoulder. ... He was really playing well and he really helped our interior. Now he’s getting that quad strength.

“He’s squatting. I told him I really felt like this offseason his lower body strength and through his hips, he’s stronger than 9 acres of garlic up top. The guy is so strong with his upper body. He just has to really get that lower body with the quad injury as strong as possible so he’s a complete player in our interior.”

The key with the Colts’ line is consistency. It showed some flashes at times last season, but flashes don't get the job done. The Colts need to protect quarterback Andrew Luck and open up lanes for the running backs every play, not every few plays.

Thomas will bring some stability to the interior part of the offensive line. That’s what the Colts hope at least.

“A guy with experience, we only had a short glimpse [last season],” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “He’s busting his rear rehabbing trying to get well with the quad and bicep. He’s doing great, he’s on track to be back for training camp. It’ll be great to have him back.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- Khaled Holmes and Phil Costa.

Those two names might cause you to look at their Wikipedia page to find out their background.

Here’s the condensed version of who Holmes and Costa are: They are centers for the Indianapolis Colts and will be the two competing for the right to hike the ball to franchise quarterback Andrew Luck next season.

[+] EnlargePhil Costa
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesThe Colts signed center Phil Costa to a one-year, $1.2 million contract. He'll compete with Khaled Holmes for the starting job this fall.
That essentially was the message general manager Ryan Grigson passed along during a conference call with reporters late Friday morning.

“We feel pretty good where we’re at,” he said. “You always like to be able to plug in a Pro Bowler there or someone that’s a five-year starter, have that luxury, but I’ll say this to make this point: You guys had great success here with (Jeff) Saturday who was a (college free agent) that I think was stocking shelves when they brought him in.

“About center in general, I personally have been fortunate enough to be to three Super Bowls with two teams, and on all three of those teams the centers were (college free agents). That’s a position where you can find a quality guy and you don’t need always to have that high-profile player at that spot."

Samson Satele was the Colts’ starting center the past two seasons, but he was released this month after performing poorly last season.

The Colts had interest in Cleveland center Alex Mack, but being able to land him was a longshot from the start because the Browns used their transition tag on him, meaning they could match any offer made to Mack.

Indianapolis signed Costa, who spent his first four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, to a one-year, $1.2 million contract last week. He started every game in 2011 for the Cowboys. His 2012 season was cut short because of ankle and back problems. Costa, an undrafted free agent, dressed for 12 games in 2013 but only played in three of those games, losing his starting job to Travis Frederick, the team’s first-round pick last season.

Holmes, the Colts’ fourth-round pick in 2013, still remains a 6-3, 319-pound mystery. He played a total of 12 snaps last season. That number is alarming when you consider the problems the Colts had on the interior part of the offensive line last season.

“We signed Phil Costa, he’s a tough young center that has started games,” Grigson said. “We drafted Khaled Holmes to be that center of the future. He never got a chance in camp really because of the ankle, so he’s still a little bit of an unknown at the professional level. But it’s going to be a good competition.”

So for now, learn as much as you can about Holmes and Costa, because they are currently the two players with the best shot of being the Colts’ starting center next season.

Top free-agent roundup: AFC South

March, 10, 2014
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With the 2014 free-agency period starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, here is a look at top free agents in the AFC South as compiled by reporters Tania Ganguli, Paul Kuharsky, Michael DiRocco and Mike Wells. The top seven free agents are on defense, led by cornerback Vontae Davis of the Colts. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew, a fixture in Jacksonville for the past eight years, is looking for a new team. Is this the end of Antoine Bethea's run in Indianapolis?

1. Vontae Davis, Colts CB: Indianapolis needs a top cornerback to help a defense that finished 20th in the league last season. Davis has shown he has the talent to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league. He just needs to work on his consistency.

2. Alterraun Verner, Titans CB: A smart, aware corner with a knack for getting to the ball, he just lacks top speed and size.

3. Antoine Bethea, Colts S: A reliable player, having started every game he played during his eight years with the Colts. Finished with at least 100 tackles in five of those seasons.

4. Earl Mitchell, Texans NT: Solid player at the point of attack and has shown the ability to get consistent penetration. He had 48 tackles and 1.5 sacks last season.

5. Bernard Pollard, Titans S: Played well as an in-the-box safety and provided the sort of standard-setting leadership the Titans lacked previously. Update: Signed one-year, $2 million deal to remain with Titans.

6. Darryl Sharpton, Texans LB: Led the Texans with 87 tackles but is not as good in coverage as he is against the run.

Smith
7. Antonio Smith, Texans DE: He is more of a run-stuffing defensive end than a pass-rusher, although he did record five sacks in 2013.

8. Ben Tate, Texans RB: He led the Texans with 771 yards rushing. He has been somewhat injury-prone but has produced when needed as Arian Foster's backup.

9. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars RB: Jones-Drew started 15 games and led the Jaguars with 803 yards and five touchdowns rushing. He also caught 43 passes (third on the team) for 314 yards. He got off to a slow start then battled through ankle, hamstring and knee issues and averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry.

Brown
10. Donald Brown, Colts RB:
Brown was the Colts’ third running back twice in 2013 only to end the season as the starter. He has the speed but was too inconsistent during his five seasons in Indianapolis.

11. Garrett Graham, Texans TE: He’s not Owen Daniels, but he can line up tight or as a flex tight end. He came into his own as a receiver last season with 49 catches for 545 yards and five TDs.

12. Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts RB: A neck injury limited Bradshaw to only three games last season. It took just those three games for him to show he was the Colts' most effective running back.

13. Ropati Pitoitua, Titans DE: A giant, run-stuffing end who would be a solid, flexible piece in the hybrid front. Update: Signed 3-year, deal for $9.6 million to remain with Titans.

14. Adam Vinatieri, Colts K: The 41-year-old Vinatieri was 35-of-40 on field goals and a perfect 34-of-34 on extra points in 2013.

15. Samson Satele, Colts C: Was released by the team on March 6 after a disappointing 2013 season. He has started 98 of 102 games during his seven-year career.

Free-agency primer: Colts

March, 7, 2014
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» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Key free agents: CB Vontae Davis, S Antoine Bethea, K Adam Vinatieri, RB Donald Brown

Where they stand: The Colts have the fourth-most salary-cap space ($41 million) in the league. They solved one of their issues when they signed inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson on Thursday to start alongside Jerrell Freeman, Erik Walden and Robert Mathis. Davis is the most important player to re-sign with having to acquire a new starting center next in line after Samson Satele was released on March 6. The Colts re-signed punter Pat McAfee to a five-year deal Friday. The 41-year-old Vinatieri believes he can kick for several more seasons. Expect the Colts to look to add depth at receiver to give quarterback Andrew Luck another target to go with receivers T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.

What to expect: The Colts should be able to work out a deal with Davis, who was inconsistent last season but has the talent to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league. Don't expect the Colts to go with a rookie or second-year player as their starting center. The position is too valuable for them to go that direction with their franchise player, Luck, taking the snaps. New Orleans' Brian De La Puente and Green Bay's Evan Dietrich-Smith are both free agents. Denver receiver Eric Decker is an ideal receiver to go with Hilton and Wayne. The Colts and Decker have mutual interest, but he may be out of their price range if he wants to be paid like a No. 1 receiver. Hakeem Nicks and James Jones are also free agents the Colts could pursue. Acquiring a veteran guard is a better option than drafting one, because Indianapolis has the talent to take another step in the AFC next season. Decker's teammate in Denver, guard Zane Beadles, is a free agent.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson didn't just come out and say it as he stood behind the podium at Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 21. But you knew what he was getting at while addressing the media during the NFL scouting combine that afternoon.

Grigson was asked if center Samson Satele was in the team's plans in the future.

“This is an evaluation process and we have a plan in place,” he said. “We're not going to divulge that to anyone, but we're taking all the time and due diligence and the film work and it's something for the organization to know and you guys will find out at some point.”

Grigson's comments about Satele may not seem like a big deal, but things were put further into perspective about how the organization felt about the center when the general manager talked about safety LaRon Landry, cornerback Greg Toler and defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois needing to be more consistent next season in the concourse outside of the media area.

Releasing Satele, who was a disappointment last season, became official Thursday. The move frees up $4 million in salary cap space for the Colts.

The Colts are now on the market for a new starting center to snap the ball to franchise quarterback Andrew Luck and block because Khaled Holmes, who played a total of 12 snaps during his rookies season, is the only center on the roster.

Mike McGlynn was solid while starting in place of the injured Satele last season. McGlynn's a free agent and I've been told that the Colts don't plan on re-signing him at the moment.

New Orleans' Brian De La Punte and Green Bay's Even Dietrich-Smith are possible players the Colts could pursue once free agency begins March 11. The Cleveland Browns used the transition tag on center Alex Mack. The Browns have the right to match any offer made to Mack.

  • And to put a wrap on Thursday's busy day for the Colts, which also saw them sign linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, they made qualifying offers to restricted free agents cornerback Josh Gordy and offensive lineman Joe Reitz. The Colts have the right of first refusal if Gordy or Reitz receives an offer sheet from another team. Indianapolis made an exclusive rights tender to linebacker Cam Johnson.
  • INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Indianapolis Colts general manager and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian has grades for each player scheduled to hit the free agent market on March 11.

    Here’s are the grades Polian gave for each of the Colts’ key free agents:

    Antoine Bethea: A

    Donald Brown: B+

    Pat McAfee: B

    Vontae Davis: B-

    Adam Vinatieri: C

    Here's a breakdown of what each letter grade is worth financially.

    A: $6+ million AAV (annual average value), 3+ years guaranteed money

    B: $2-6 million AAV, 2 years or fewer guaranteed money

    C: $2 million or less AAV, 2 years or fewer guaranteed money

    D: Minimum salary, 1 year contract

    I was a little surprised Polian had Bethea graded higher than Davis, and I was surprised Davis was also graded lower than McAfee and Brown.

    One other noted free agent is offensive lineman Mike McGlynn. Polian gave McGlynn a D. He lost his starting job at guard momentarily but was still a better center than Samson Satele. This should help you put into perspective how low McGlynn graded out, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was given a C. Yes, Heyward-Bey, who went from starting the season as the Colts’ No. 2 receiver to ending the season on special teams, graded out higher than McGlynn.

    Click here for an explanation of the grading system.
    INDIANAPOLIS -- The word “consistent” was used quite often by Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano during their media portion of the scouting combine.

    So you knew the offensive line would be one of topics in the discussion.

    The line was better -- they could only go up after bad play in 2012 -- only giving up 32 sacks compared to 41 during quarterback Andrew Luck’s rookie season, but the unit wasn't consistent.

    “Offensive line play has to improve,” Grigson said.

    Injuries and poor play at guard and center were the biggest factors for the line not living up to expectations.

    The Colts used seven different offensive line starting lineups last regular season. One of their starting guards -- Mike McGlynn -- is a free agent. Donald Thomas, who missed most of last season with a torn tendon in his quad, is expected to be. Hugh Thornton was pressed into the starting lineup after Thomas was injured. He struggled liked rookies do at times, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have a chance start at again with a strong offseason and with McGlynn being a free agent.

    The wild card in the equation is center Samson Satele.

    Grigson didn’t give exactly give Satele a ringing endorsement when asked about his future with the team last week. Grigson said, “This is an evaluation process and we have a plan in place.”

    The knock on Satele is that he gets overpowered too often by defensive tackles.

    Why didn’t Grigson come out and say they plan to release Satele?

    There’s no guarantee Satele will get released and the Colts don’t have to make that decision now. Cutting Satele will likely increase the price for what the Colts will to have pay for another center because free agents at that position know they'll need a starter.

    Grigson not ready to commit to Satele

    February, 22, 2014
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    INDIANAPOLIS -- Sometimes not saying much really says a lot.

    Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson was asked about center Samson Satele's future with the team during his media portion Friday at the scouting combine.

    “As for Samson, like I said, this is an evaluation process and we have a plan in place,” Grigson said. “We’re not going to divulge that to anyone, but we’re taking all the time and due diligence and the film work and it’s something for the organization to know and you guys will find out at some point.”

    Those aren’t exactly reassuring words by Grigson that Satele will be back.

    It’s understandable why Grigson can’t publicly commit to Satele for next season.

    Satele started 13 games last season, but was not very good. Some scouts believe guard Mike McGlynn was a better center than Satele when he started three games there last season. Satele’s cap number is $5.1 million for next season.

    Indianapolis Colts season wrap-up

    January, 15, 2014
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    Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

    Final Power Ranking: 8
    Preseason Power Ranking: 10

    Biggest surprise: The questions were valid. Was linebacker Robert Mathis' production a product of having sack-machine Dwight Freeney playing on the other side? Could Mathis still be an impact player without Freeney? Mathis silenced the naysayers when he led the league in sacks with 19.5, including seven strip sacks. Mathis didn't hide the fact that he wanted to quiet the doubters. What made his season even more special is that he did it without much help elsewhere, as the Colts had only 42 sacks as a team. Mathis is one of the front-runners to be the league's defensive player of the year.

    Biggest disappointment: Safety LaRon Landry was supposed to have the same kind of impact Bob Sanders had when he played for the Colts. That's why general manager Ryan Grigson signed him to four-year, $24 million contract. Landry was good when he was able to come up with the big hits or touchdown-saving tackles, but it was too often that he ended up whiffing on a play. The plays on which he missed running back Jamaal Charles on a touchdown run in the regular-season game against Kansas City and New England's LeGarrette Blount on his touchdown run last weekend are two examples that quickly come to mind. It also doesn't help that Landry missed four games because of injury this season.

    Biggest need: Help on both lines -- offensive and defensive -- should be at the top of Grigson's list during the offseason. The Colts are set at offensive tackle with Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus. Donald Thomas will be back to take one of the guard spots after he missed most of the season with a quad injury, but the other guard spot and center could use upgrades. The Colts need a defensive tackle who can clog the middle of the line.

    Team MVP: This is a no-brainer. Quarterback Andrew Luck was mentioned as a league MVP candidate at one point in the season. The second-year quarterback overcame injuries to five key offensive starters -- including future Hall of Fame receiver Reggie Wayne -- to cut his interceptions in half, increase his completion percentage and throw the same number of touchdown passes despite 52 fewer attempts. Take Luck out of the lineup and the Colts would have won maybe six games this season.

     

    Colts at healthiest since Week 7

    January, 3, 2014
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    INDIANAPOLIS -- The only thing that would be better is if Reggie Wayne, Dwayne Allen, Ahmad Bradshaw, Vick Ballard and Donald Thomas dressed for Saturday's playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

    That possibility ended months ago, but the Indianapolis Colts are still in the position to have their healthiest roster since Week 7 against the Denver Broncos.

    Defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin (knee) and defensive end Fili Moala (knee) are the only two players listed as questionable for the game. The other 10 on the team's injury report, which includes starting cornerback Vontae Davis and defensive end Cory Redding, are listed as probable.

    The Colts have come a long way from having to bring players up from the practice squad to piece together the offensive line.

    Don't be surprised if this is what the starting line looks like Saturday:

    Tackles: Anthony Castonzo, Gosder Cherilus

    Guards: Hugh Thornton, Mike McGlynn

    Center: Samson Satele

    McGlynn is a better center than guard and he's a better center than Satele.

    Colts could have healthy O-line Saturday

    December, 31, 2013
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    INDIANAPOLIS -- Barring any setbacks in practice this week, the Indianapolis Colts could have a full complement of players (minus Donald Thomas) to choose from on the offensive line for Saturday's wild card playoff match against the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Coach Chuck Pagano said guard Mike McGlynn, who missed Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars with an elbow injury, "will be good to go." The Colts have started a different offensive line in each of their last six game.

    "We've never had that happen to this point, but no, it's great to have all those guys available and guys have done a great job filling in for when guys have been out," Pagano said. "It'll be great to have everybody available."

    That's the good part for a group that's had a different starting lineup eight times during the regular season.

    It'll be up Pagano to determine who he wants to start outside of tackles Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus.

    The line has played well over the past four games. But it's not as simple sticking with the same group Pagano used in those matchups because they had four different starting lineups in each game.

    In typical Pagano fashion, the coach had no interest in revealing who he plans to start against the Chiefs.

    “We'll put the best five out there that we feel give us the best chance to win the football game,” Pagano said.

    Here's what the O-line looked like in the Colts' Week 16 victory over the Chiefs:

    Tackles: Castonzo, Cherilus

    Guards: McGlynn, Xavier Nixon

    Center: Samson Satele

    Here's what I think the starting line should look like Saturday:

    Tackles: Castonzo, Cherilus

    Guards: Hugh Thornton, Jeff Linkenbach

    Center: McGlynn
    INDIANAPOLIS -- If the early struggles to protect quarterback Andrew Luck weren't problem enough, the injuries along the offensive line in recent weeks gave the Indianapolis Colts every excuse to fall apart up front.

    Seven different starting lineups along the line, including five in the past five games, have forced coach Chuck Pagano to be creative in his tinkering with the line.

    The Colts had only six healthy offensive linemen before they brought center Thomas Austin up from the practice squad the day before their game against the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend. Austin was released on Tuesday.

    [+] EnlargeAndrew Luck
    AP Photo/Ed ZurgaAndrew Luck is, at last, enjoying a good deal of protection from his offensive line.
    But despite all the mixing and matching of interchangeable players, the Colts are in the midst of their best offensive-line play of the season.

    Luck has been just sacked twice in the past three games and the Colts have rushed for at least 135 yards in each of the past two games.

    “I think the more adversity you face sometimes, it tends to bring you together,” Pagano said. “The players have found a way to put the pieces together week-in and week-out and it doesn’t really matter who’s up and who’s down and who’s available and who’s playing where. They all know they all have position flexibility and know what to do. Those guys all prepare as starters and they’ve done a great job. And they have played well the last couple weeks, especially protecting Andrew.”

    The improved play comes after the Colts gave up 22 sacks through the first nine games. They’ve given up a total of nine since then, with five occurring against Tennessee on Dec. 1.

    The only stability has been at tackle, where Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus have started every game on the left and right, respectively.

    The interior three of the line – the weakest part of the group – is the one that has undergone the constant changes. Jeff Linkenbach replaced the struggling Mike McGlynn at right guard against Tennessee on Dec. 1. McGlynn was back starting at guard the following week because Linkenbach got injured. Then McGlynn had to start at center against Houston on Dec. 15 because Samson Satele went down with an injury.

    Are you still with me?

    Xavier Nixon, a tackle during his college career at Florida, started at left guard against the Chiefs last weekend. His pull-block helped open a hole for Donald Brown on his 51-yard touchdown run that featured some poor tackling by the Chiefs.

    Castonzo, the protector on Luck’s back side, limited Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali, who has 11 sacks this season, to only two tackles and no sacks in the game.

    “There’s been so much change that you really have to get back to your fundamentals because you don’t know who is going to play next to you, so it comes down to everybody doing their own fundamentals properly,” Castonzo said. “It might be just the refocus on fundamentals that’s allowed us to play well.”

    The Colts could be getting close to having a healthy line (minus Donald Thomas, who is out for the season). Thornton, Linkenbach and Joe Reitz could return to practice later this week.

    “Chuck and [general manager] Ryan [Grigson] brought the right guys in here,” Cherilus said. “The new guys come in and they listen to the vets and when your number is called they show up and perform. They’ve been doing that. You want to finish the season with your starting lineup. But we’re talking about football, change is going to come, you’re going to have to make yourself available to be a part of it.”

    Rapid Reaction: Indianapolis Colts

    December, 22, 2013
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    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few quick thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts' 23-7 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

    What it means: No offense to Houston and Tennessee, but what the Colts did defensively to the Chiefs surpasses anything they did against those vacation-bound teams. The Colts sacked Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith four times to go with two Jerrell Freeman interceptions in their first victory over a team with a winning record since beating Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Oct. 20. The Chiefs looked like they were going to have a field day on the Colts after they took their opening possession and running back Jamaal Charles easily scored on a 31-yard run. Kansas City gained 59 yards on its opening drive but gained only 228 more yards the rest of the game.

    Impressive performance by the line: The Colts started their seventh different offensive line, including their fifth in the past five games, on Sunday. The tackles were Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus, the guards were Mike McGlynn and Xavier Nixon and the center was Samson Satele. Problems? Of course not. The line only gave up one sack, and the Colts rushed for 135 yards. Nixon, starting in place of Hugh Thornton, had a nice lead block that opened up the middle for running back Donald Brown on his 51-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

    Redding leaves early: About the only thing that didn’t go right for the defense after its first series was that defensive lineman Cory Redding left the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.

    Whalen steps up again: You would have never known that receiver Griff Whalen was on the practice squad just nine days ago based off how he’s played the past two games. He followed up his touchdown catch against Houston on Dec. 15 by getting seven catches for 80 yards on Sunday.

    What’s next: The Colts wrap up the regular season against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 29. The Colts beat the Jaguars 37-3 in Week 4.
    INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton believes it'll take a lot for him not to be on the field Sunday when they play the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Hilton
    The second-year receiver is questionable for the game with a shoulder injury. He orginally hurt it Nov. 24 against the Arizona Cardinals.

    "I was completely healthy at this point last season, so that's the part that's not good," Hilton said. "It's one of those things that I have to play through. We still have something to play for."

    The Colts, who are keeping their hopes alive to get to the No. 2 seed, could have a thin roster against the Chiefs.

    Defensive tackle, Ricky Jean Francois (foot), offensive line Jeff Linkenbach (quad), safety Sergio Brown (groin), offensive lineman Joe Reitz (concussion) and defensive tackle Montori Hughes (knee) are all doubtful.

    Linebacker Daniel Adongo (hamstring), guard Hugh Thornton (neck) and cornerback Greg Toler (groin) are questionable. Toler practiced Wednesday but was held out of practice Thursday as a precaution.

    Here's what the Colts' offensive line could look like Sunday because of all their injuries at that position: Samson Satele at center, Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus at tackle and Xavier Nixon and Mike McGlynn at guard. Rookie Khaled Holmes will be the only backup if Thornton doesn't play.

    "We're in great shape, awesome," Colts coach Chuck Pagano sarcastically said. "It's like everybody else. We're not the only one that's pregnant right now. We got what we got and we have a job to do and we're going to get it done."

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