Thanksgiving Day Colts Notebook for November 22, 2012, with quotes and information provided by the Indianapolis Colts Public Relations Department.
Injury Updates, Redding Expects to Play
Tuesday was the players’ day off, a day for rest, community charities, and radio show appearances. On Wednesday, the players returned to the Colts’ scenic West 56th St complex to resume preparation for Sunday’s home game against the Buffalo Bills.
Since Wednesday is the day for injury reports, Interim Coach Bruce Arians began with injury updates. “First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who won’t be working tomorrow like we will,” he began. “On the injury update, there’s really no new news to bring. Cory (Redding) is getting better, will not practice today. We expect him to get out there by Friday. (Coby) Fleener is limited in practice; we’ll see how the week goes. Vontae Davis also is limited and we’ll see how the week goes with those guys. Everybody else is ready to go.”
Redding also reassured everyone that he will be on the field Sunday. “Yeah, man. It’s football,” the ten year veteran lineman said. “We’ve got a playoff chase. It’s football. You can’t sit on the sideline and watch your boys go to war. I’ve got to get up and get ready to play.”
Among those players said to be ready to go are Wide Receiver Donnie Avery (head), and much-anticipated rookie Nose Tackle Josh Chapman (knee), both of whom saw full participation in practice. Davis (knee) ended up sitting out practice along with Redding (hip), Antoine Bethea (ankle), and Dwight Freeney (rest).
Overall, Arians – and Cory Redding – had some encouraging news on the injury front. On a team that could be said to lack depth at certain positions, healthy starters will be paramount if there is to be a continued playoff push this year.
NFL players and coaches have many things for which to be thankful. This being the official day for giving thanks, some of the players talked about what they are thankful for, including Arians, who would like the thank none other than the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bruce Arians: “Oh gosh. I’m thankful for the Pittsburgh Steelers letting me go to be here. Truthfully, I couldn’t think of a better place to be at this point in time and to have felt more needed probably in my entire life. So thank you Pittsburgh.”
DE Cory Redding: “I’m very thankful for everything that’s given to me because I know in a split second it can be taken away. Never take that for granted, this opportunity to play in this league. Just to be in this locker room with this beautiful group of men and continue to play football is truly a blessing and all of us have a lot to be thankful for. Every day above ground is a great day.”
RB Vick Ballard: “Just being healthy. Health and family. There are a lot of people out there that are sick and in the hospital and without family so just health and family.”
Andrew Luck: “Absolutely. Very fortunate enough to be in this situation. Great teammates, great city to be a part of, got a great family so I’m very fortunate.”
LB Robert Mathis: “Blessed to have two beautiful boys back in January. I’m thankful to have a job. There are a lot of things that you should never take for granted.”
Impressions of the Bills – Watch for the Screen Pass
Buffalo’s offense ranks around the middle of the pack (16th), with below average passing yardage (23rd) and the NFL’s 7th ranked rushing attack. They have some dangerous playmakers on offense, and they will try to score early and often, especially with their struggling defense, ranked 27th in the NFL in surrendered yardage and 30th in scoring.
Indianapolis, whose defense rates better but is coming off a blowout loss, will not be taking their opponent lightly, as no winning team should. “They’re explosive,” said Arians. “They’ve got a lot of speed. C.J. Spiller can score at the drop of a hat. Ryan’s a streaky player, Fitzpatrick; I mean he can really get on a roll.
“They’ve got speed; they can spread you out much like New England. They get it out quick. They’re hard to sack. They probably lead the league in screen yardage. I mean they’ve got every type of screen known to man. Middle screens, running backs are devastating on screen passes and they do a very good job of their screen game. They are the best in the league; I think they’re averaging 11-yards per completion on a screen.”
“Their two running backs,” added Robert Mathis, “They’re beasts. You have to make sure that you keep those guys bottled up because they look good. You can’t let them beat you.”
Luck Continues to Draw Praise
In Andrew Luck, Arians is working with his fourth quarterback who was selected at or near the top of the first round of the NFL Draft, arguably a rare fortune for an offensive coach. Peyton Manning (1998) and Tim Couch (Browns, 1999) were both number one overall picks, while the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger was taken 11th in 2004. Now, he has Andrew Luck, taken first overall in 2012, leading this young Colts offense in remarkable fashion.
Arians talked about how his newest highly touted rookie quarterback compares to the others he has coached, saying, “Peyton (Manning) was pretty prepared but he’s (Luck’s) a combination of all the guys. He’s as tough as Timmy Couch and as athletic as Ben (Roethlisberger) and as cerebral as Peyton.
“He’s got the whole package. He’s more like Ben than most people thought. He really is a gym rat and loves the game. I always called Peyton a piranha, you just couldn’t feed him enough information, and Andrew is the same way. He’s here on Tuesdays and you have to kick him out of the building. He is fun and he is super and all of them had the same traits, fierce competitors.”
A Few Good Quotes
For those in the mood for a little more reading on this beautiful Turkey Day, here are a few other interesting quotes from players and coaches, including a couple from the Bills’ conference calls.
Bills Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on illegal hits (Luck has taken several as well), particularly the one he took from Patriots LB Brandon Spikes this season: “Well it was that play,” said Fitzpatrick, “but it was just his play in general. There is a lot of history there in terms of him kind of being a head hunter. It was a lot of stuff bottled up I think that kind of boiled over in that situation.”
Bill Head Coach Chan Gailey on illegal hits: “I think we are all concerned. We do not want to end up creating health problems for these guys’ short term or long term. I think that is the concern and you have to try to do the best you can to protect these guys from those kinds of hits where they are in a defenseless position. Yeah, I think you have to try to eliminate them.”
Bruce Arians on the difference in the Patriots game and what Luck could take away from it: “All it is is three throws. He threw it 50 times but the only three they remember is he had two pick sixes and a fumble. He was lights out to start that ballgame and on fire. Just one slide to the left and a high throw and the game changed.
“Late in the ballgame he learned a valuable lesson about throwing an out cut late. At that point in time, I don’t know if we could have got back in it, but still a valuable lesson to learn as a quarterback in this league. We’re hoping to extend this season and hopefully go back up there and play them again.”
Andrew Luck on the matter of rookie fatigue: “I think it’s the proverbial rookie wall as they call it. I realize that I’m not allowed to feel it (laughs) especially with where this team is right now, what’s at stake. It’s been alright to this point. I think it would be a disservice to teammates if I started feeling sorry for myself, down and what not. It’s easy when you know what’s at stake. Games are big. It’s not too hard to get up for it and get prepared for it.”
That’s it for today. Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you.