Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 3, 2013

Colts face tall task in NFC-power Seahawks

Undefeated Seattle features one of NFL's best defenses.

By TOM JAMES CNHI NEWS SERVICE
Kokomo Tribune

---- — INDIANAPOLIS — Staying with the process.

That’s what the Indianapolis Colts (3-1) intend to do heading into Sunday’s marquee home field matchup with the undefeated Seattle Seahawks.

“They’ve got a quarterback [Russell Wilson] that’s a nightmare to contain and handle. They’ve got a runner [Marshawn Lynch] that’s unbelievable,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is quick to point out as he looks ahead to his team’s game with the Seahawks.

“They’re defense is as good as there is in the National Football League. They play fast. They’re physical. Secondary is huge. They’ve got two corners [Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner] who are 6-foot-3. Kam Chancellor is a big safety (6-3, 232) and Earl Thomas [is] running around making plays. They got ball players all over the place and they play hard and they play fast and they play with an attitude and they got a swagger. They’ve won a lot of games and they’re 4-0. We got our hands full.”

It’s up to Pagano, who celebrated his 53rd birthday Wednesday, and his coaching staff to have Indianapolis’ players ready to meet yet another challenge this season. It won’t be easy.

“It’s our biggest game of the year. I know that’s very cliche. But these guys are definitely good,” Colts quarterback Andrew Luck previewed Wednesday. “Richard’s [Sherman] got incredible ball skills. I think they’ve got seven interceptions on their team already. Three of the guys on their secondary has two apiece.

“They’re all big, physical, fast. They have all the attributes. They’re just not fast. They can also catch the ball. They’re also great in press [coverage]. They do a great job in off [coverage]. We’ve got our work cut out for us. But we’re excited about the challenge. As football players, as athletes, that’s what you want to do. You want to go face good players, great players.”

Indianapolis played its best game of the season two weeks ago in a 27-7 road win over defending NFC champion San Francisco. The Colts meet up with AFC Super Bowl favorite Denver — and former quarterback Peyton Manning — at Lucas Oil Stadium on Oct. 20.

But this week it’s Seattle, the favorite of many observers to be the NFC’s representative in this year’s Super Bowl. The Colts’ focus is solely on the surging Seahawks.

“This is another week to improve,” defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois added. He knows Seattle very well after spending most of his career with the 49ers.

“We’re playing good [defensively]. But we’re not where we want to be. We want to be at the top of the league. Not just statistically. But we want to be one of those defenses that can be counted on at the end of the year.”

Returning to the lineup

Center Samson Satele is expected to start Sunday against Seattle. Satele has missed the last two games with an elbow injury that he suffered against Miami.

With Satele’s return to the starting lineup, offensive guard Mike McGlynn will move back to his regular spot at right offensive guard. McGlynn started at center against San Francisco and Jacksonville. He has been the Colts’ starting right offensive guard for most of the last two seasons.

Tight end/H-Back Dominique Jones continues to be listed as the primary backup to starter Coby Fleener. But Jones has been used more in recent games in tandem with fullback Stanley Havili as a lead blocker for the Colts’ running backs. If Havili is unable to play against Seattle, the versatile Jones will get even more work as a run blocker.

If defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois is unable to play for the second straight week, Fili Moala will get the nod. Moala started last week’s win against Jacksonville and has been a starter for most of his career with the Colts.

Safety Joe Lefeged may be forced back into action on defense if both Delano Howell and LaRon Landry are unable to play this week. Lefeged saw extensive work on defense as a rookie but has spent most of his time as a special teams ace the last two seasons. He has seen limited work on defense this year.

Outside linebacker Cam Johnson should see his workload increase as he moves up the depth chart due to the injury to rookie Bjoern Werner, who is sidelined from four to six weeks with a torn plantar fascia on his right foot. Johnson was acquired in a trade with San Francisco prior to the start of the regular season.

Injury list

Sitting out Wednesday’s practice were running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), Howell (toe), Landry (ankle), Jean Francois (groin) and Werner. Of that group, it appears as if Howell may be the closest to playing against the Seahawks.

Pagano still isn’t sure if Bradshaw will be available to face Seattle.

“Until I get something definitive from our doctors and trainers, I’m planning on him being around [at the Colts complex]. Certainly he won’t be at practice. We’ve made adjustments for that. Once we get some feedback, once we get some answers, then we’ll know more,” the Colts coach said.

Cornerback Vontae Davis (foot) and rookie offensive guard Hugh Thornton (shoulder) got limited work.