Colts sense season could be teetering on trip to Cincinnati
By MICHAEL MAROT
Oct. 25, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis desperately wants to flip the script.
Instead of poring over ugly numbers, the Colts find themselves breaking down all the woeful game footage as they continue to deal with injuries.
It's a giant mess.
Just three days after quarterback Jacoby Brissett was sacked 10 times and the defense gave up more than 500 yards, the Colts got back to work Wednesday knowing this season was teetering on the brink.
"We've got to come together and we will be together," coach Chuck Pagano said. "You love hostile environments. There's nothing like being in that environment and the circumstances we're in to galvanize you as a group."
At least, that's the hope.
Indy (2-5) has lost two straight and needs a win in Cincinnati to have any hope of getting back in the AFC South race.
It seems unfathomable given the twists and turns of the past 10 days.
During that span, Indy had its 11-game winning streak over Tennessee and a four-game home winning streak over Jacksonville snapped and suffered its first regular-season shutout in 376 games.
Quarterback Andrew Luck, who has been working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, had his throwing program shut down last week because of soreness in his throwing arm.
He won't throw this week, either, even though Pagano insisted "nothing has changed" in terms of Luck possibly returning sometime this season.
Safety Malik Hooker , Indy's first-round draft pick, was one of three defensive starters injured in Sunday's 27-0 loss. On Monday, the Colts confirmed the promising rookie would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL and a torn MCL in his right knee.
Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton apologized Monday for criticizing the offensive line following the latest loss, saying he planned to speak with each lineman individually.
By midday Wednesday, he still had not met with all of the linemen, who were trying to distance themselves from the episode.
"That's over with, it's on to Cincinnati now," left tackle Anthony Castonzo said.
Early Tuesday, 36-year-old pass rush consultant Robert Mathis was arrested in an Indianapolis suburb on a preliminary charge of driving while intoxicated. Pagano said he has spoken with Indy's career leader in sacks (123), but only acknowledged that Mathis was expected to be on the field for the Bengals game.
"Obviously, you guys are aware of what happened. We're aware of what happened. We all understand it's a privilege and honor to coach and play in the NFL and we all understand that no one knows that better than Robert," Pagano said. "We've dealt with it internally and we'll let the legal process deal with it. We've got his back and we'll move on."
Mathis was suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the league's performance-enhancing substance policy. At the time, Mathis explained he had been using a male fertility drug.
On the field, things aren't getting any easier either.
After playing at Cincinnati (2-5), the Colts visit defending AFC South champion Houston (3-3) then host Pittsburgh (5-2), which has outscored Indy 124-51 in the past three games.
Plus, the Colts are still looking for replacements.
Starting linebacker John Simon, who leads the team with three sacks, is likely to miss the Bengals game with a stinger. Starting cornerback Rashaan Melvin didn't practice Wednesday as he continues through the concussion protocol. And a continually shifting offensive line is still trying to keep Brissett upright and the running game on track.
Meanwhile, the Colts defense has given up 40 completions of 20 yards or more and the Colts offense has allowed 29 sacks. Both are league highs.
And if they don't fix things soon, they may be having a lot more ugly film room sessions.
"It's the same motivation as it always is. You don't want to give up sacks, you don't want to give up quarterback hits," Castonzo said. "We want to win."
NOTES: Safety Clayton Geathers (neck) did non-contact work Wednesday as he started to work his way back from the physically unable to perform list. Right tackle Denzelle Good also returned to practice after missing six games with an injured wrist. Good hopes to return for the Pittsburgh game. ... Safety Darius Butler (ankle) and starting center Ryan Kelly (hamstring) are listed day to day. ... After putting Hooker on injured reserve, the Colts added receiver K.J. Brent and safety Ronald Martin to the practice squad. Indy also released running back Marcus Murphy from the practice squad.