BY Tom James Tribune Star
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — INDIANAPOLIS — While injuries continue to pile up for the Indianapolis Colts, the team’s attitude remains pretty much the same. Just keep playing.
Coming off Sunday’s 37-3 shellacking of winless Jacksonville, the Colts head into this week’s home game with undefeated Seattle with three offensive starters – running back Vick Ballard, offensive guard Donald Thomas and tight end Dwayne Allen – sidelined for the season.
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw, signed as a veteran free agent last spring, started against San Francisco last week but missed Sunday’s game at Jacksonville with neck issues. He was replaced by recently acquired running back Trent Richardson.
Defense has had their share of injuries too. Safety LaRon Landry has missed multiple games with a sprained ankle. Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois sat out the Jaguars game with a strained groin. And it was announced on Monday that rookie outside linebacker Bjoern Werner will be out four to six weeks with a torn plantar fascia on his right foot.
The team’s response? So what.
“We are a team that never panics,” veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne admitted after the Jaguars game. “We just work the process and continue to play ball. We never get too high or too low. We just play all four quarters and at the end of the game look at the scoreboard and see what happens. Hopefully we can keep riding this wave and keep playing ball. It’s exciting, especially in the way we are winning in all three phases of the game.”
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano agrees.
“This is the National Football League. Every game and every team is tough. For [Indianapolis] to play as consistent in back-to-back weeks was good. And we are getting better and better,” Pagano voiced.
“I am really proud of this football team. We are going to know who we are and stick to that identity. We are going to go back [after the Jaguars win] and fix things we are going to need to fix and move into [this] week.”
The Seahawks are coming off an overtime win over AFC South champion Houston on Sunday.
“Great football team. Pete Carroll is one of the best coaches in the league. They’ve got a roster that is filled with excellent football players on both sides of the ball,” he said. “They’ve got a quarterback [Russell Wilson] that’s a nightmare to contain and handle. We got our hands full.”
Werner sidelined -- The injury to the Colts’ 2013 first-round draft pick initially didn’t appear to be serious. But that attitude changed Monday after Werner had gone through a magnetic resonance imaging test.
“Bad news there for Bjoern but he’ll be back,” Pagano said, adding that fullback Stanley Havili incurred a mild ankle sprain against the Jaguars. He is not expected to play this week against Seattle. The Colts added fullback Robert Hughes to the active roster Monday and waived wide receiver Griff Whalen. Hughes was with Indianapolis last year and was released at the end of training camp. Whalen may return to Indianapolis as a member of the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Pagano said that Werner had been playing better in recent games, working as the primary backup to outside linebacker Erik Walden.
“Getting better every week. He was trending in the right direction. We talked last week about he’s getting more comfortable. You could see the confidence level rising,” the Colts coach said. “Scheme-wise, he wasn’t thinking, he was playing faster, so it’s a shame that [the injury] happened. But it’s part of the game.”
Landry remains on day-to-day status. Center Samson Satele (elbow) is expected to return to a full practice routine this week and start against the Seahawks. Jean Francois is also listed as day-to-day on the injury list.
Brazill returns -- Wide receiver LaVon Brazill returns to the active roster this week after sitting out the first four games of the season. Brazill had been suspended for violations of the NFL’s substance abuse program. Indianapolis doesn’t have to make a roster move in order to create room for the talented second-year receiver.
“We don’t have to do anything. He’s back to practice but he’s exempt coming off the suspension, so you get to practice him for a week and you don’t have to do anything. You get an exemption,” the Colts coach explained. “We don’t have to do anything so that’s the beauty of the deal. He’s been here under his suspension. He’s been here the whole time. Only thing he couldn’t do is practice. But he could meet, lift in the weight room and do all those kind of things. Run on his own. Couldn’t do anything with the team. So he stayed in it mentally so now we get the luxury of bringing him back out and letting him practice now.”
No decision has been made as to whether Brazill will play against the Seahawks later this week.
“We’ll throw him back out there at practice this week. We’ve got guys to get ready for Seattle. We’ll see where he’s at from a mental standpoint. We’ll see where he’s at from a physical standpoint this week during practice. Again, we have the luxury. We don’t have to make any decisions for a while. So we’ll get to see where he’s at,” Pagano said. “Certainly you can look back at what he did last year. We know what type of receiver he is. He’s got big-play potential. He made the big play against Detroit I think it was at the end of that game. We don’t get back in that game. He’s certainly got the ability to make big plays in the pass game. He was an excellent special-teamer if I recall right running down on kicks and things like that. We’ll just have to wait and see.”