Tribune Star Correspondent
INDIANAPOLIS — A dinged up Indianapolis Colts’ defense will face a Kansas City squad that could provide a good test Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
Yes, the Chiefs are 2-12 and failed to score in last week’s 15-0 AFC West road loss to Oakland. But Kansas City does have a pretty good running back trio in Jamaal Charles, Shaun Draughn and Peyton Hillis.
Indianapolis’ run defense gave up over 160 yards to Houston’s Arian Foster last Sunday. Most of those yards came in the second half as the Texans continued to soften up the Colts’ defensive front.
“Every week you’ve got somebody that’s a challenge and he’s the next guy out,” Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said of the speedy Charles.
“[The Chiefs] have a very good stretch cut scheme. He has great vision as a running back, good sight lines, tough runner, hard runner and he sets up his running lanes with the offensive line in front of him. They work well together as a unit.”
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer likens the Kansas City running attack to what the Texans do best.
“Yeah, they’re good. They run a lot of stretch, like we just played, a lot of cutback. Then you put in [Hillis] and he’s a big, power guy. It’ll be a good challenge, but it’ll be fun.”
What will really be fun is if the Colts can come away from the game with a win. Indianapolis can clinch a spot in the AFC playoffs with a victory over Kansas City.
That’s been the goal since early in the season since coach Chuck Pagano was forced to take a leave of absence as he was treated for a form of leukemia.
Pagano, though, has been cleared to return to work by his doctors. There’s a pretty good chance that he will return to his duties next week, just in time for next week’s regular-season finale with AFC South rival Houston.
Injury list -- Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman returned to practice Thursday and there is a chance that he will play Sunday.
Freeman suffered a thumb injury in last week's loss to Houston. He was held out of Wednesday's practice as he watched from the sidelines with his left hand wrapped up.
The former Canadian Football League standout was able to go through a full practice on Thursday. His status for the Chiefs game won't be known until game-time.
“I’m going to do everything I can to be out on that field," Freeman said after Thursday's workout.
The rest of the Colts injury report included seven players who wee held out of practice: running back Delone Carter (ankle), inside linebacker Kavell Conner (hamstring), nose tackle Antonio Johnson (ankle), center Samson Satele (ankle), cornerback Teddy Williams (knee) and outside linebacker Robert Mathis (rest).
Offensive tackle Winston Justice (biceps) and safety Tom Zbikowski (knee) saw limited work. Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (ankle), safety Joe Lefeged (knee), quarterback Andrew Luck (knee) and nose tackle Martin Tevasue (illness) joined Freeman in full practice.
Toughing it out -- Angerer has been playing all season with an injured foot, which he initially hurt in the Colts' opening preseason game.
After undergoing surgery, he missed a few weeks at the beginning of the season and then returned for a limited role. Due to injuries to Conner and Freeman, Angerer's playing time has steadily increased in recent weeks. The former Iowa linebacker may have to have additional work done on his foot at the end of the season.
Despite the pain and soreness in his foot. Angerer continues to play.
“Yeah, I’ll be ready to go. On game days, you just play. Then you wake up the next morning and then you feel it. You don’t feel it too bad on game days," he said Thursday. "With Kavell [Conner] going down, obviously I have to play more. But yeah, I think [playing time has] been increasing and I’m feeling fine.”