INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis is moving to code red.
After starting 0-2 for the first time in 13 years, and seeing the lack of productivity, the Colts are trying to get things fixed. First on the list: scoring touchdowns instead of kicking field goals.
Austin Collie said Thursday. “It’s that simple. It’s always that simple.”
Things have become far more complicated for the Colts since Peyton Manning had his third neck surgery Sept. 8.
With the four-time league MVP missing his first two games as an NFL player, Indy’s high-scoring offense has responded with only two touchdowns and 26 total points. Last weekend, the Colts settled for four field goals before finally putting the ball in the end zone — with 24 seconds left in a 27-19 loss to Cleveland.
This isn’t the way the Colts are supposed to play football. So, coach Jim Caldwell has made red-zone efficiency the focal point of practice this week.
“I don’t think there’s a secret to it,” said running back Joseph Addai, who is averaging 4.7 yards per carry but has no scores. “Those red-zone plays, we worked on that heavy during practice yesterday.”
Addai and his teammates will almost certainly get even more work on it before Sunday night’s game against AFC champion Pittsburgh (1-1).
But the complexities are growing.
Already down Manning, the Colts are now trying to get his replacement, 38-year-old Kerry Collins, mended in time for Sunday. Collins, who didn’t talk Thursday, was limited in Wednesday’s practice with a sore throwing shoulder.
It’s not clear how Collins was injured, and coach Jim Caldwell did not provide details about the extent of the problem.
The only other active quarterbacks on the roster are Manning, who is expected to be out at least two months, and Curtis Painter, who has a career quarterback rating of 9.8. Undrafted rookie Mike Hartline is on the practice squad, and punter Pat McAfee could fill in as the emergency quarterback.
Caldwell doesn’t think any of that will be necessary.
“We expect him (Collins) to do more today,” Caldwell said before Thursday’s workout. “He’s coming along.”
Still, Painter said he worked more with the starting unit than he normally does during game week.
And injuries are not just a quarterback issue.
Tight end Dallas Clark sat out Wednesday’s practice with a foot injury. Clark’s backup, Jacob Tamme, also was out Wednesday with a concussion, and right guard Ryan Diem could miss Sunday’s game with a sprained left ankle.
Couple that with an offensive line that has two first-year starters at tackle and a new left guard, and there have been all kinds of concerns.
Collins has already been sacked five times and lost three fumbles, compared with the 16 sacks Manning endured all of last season.