BY TOM JAMES
CNHI News Service
Nobody was happy with the Indianapolis Colts’ 44-20 preseason opening loss to Buffalo two weeks ago.
Coaches, players and, most of all, team owner Jim Irsay, who apologized to the team’s fans in a tweet and said that he had talked to the Colts’ “commanders” about the lackluster performance.
Indianapolis, however, responded in a big way Sunday night with a 20-12 road preseason win over the New York Giants.
The Colts had perhaps their best week of practice since training camp started heading into the Giants’ game. That crispness and sharpness certainly carried over to their on-field play at Met Life Stadium.
“That’s exactly how we want to play. There were so many good things. A lot of players contributed and did some great things,” Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano reviewed Monday afternoon.
Pagano was particularly enthused by the play of the Colts’ defensive unit, which recorded six sacks, and did not allow a touchdown.
“We want to be a dominant defense. From day one, we talked about that and we’re going to do whatever we have to do to keep building, putting the pieces in place to be a dominant defense,” he voiced.
“We’ve showed signs through two games now where we can go out and do that. We’re going to keep working to eliminate the big plays, the chunk plays in the run and pass game.”
Last week’s training camp practices were spirited. The defensive unit showed that and more against the Giants.
“Those guys were flying around. They’re playing with enthusiasm. They’re feeding off each other’s energy. They’re making plays. Any time you can keep somebody out of the end zone, force field goals and play the way they played down there, we’re going to be a damn good defense,” Pagano praised.
“It’s exciting. The guys can feel it and they can start to see it. So from a confidence standpoint, that’s huge in anything. It’s confidence in your own ability and it’s confidence in the guy lined up next to you.”
Indianapolis’ offense, meanwhile, was productive in the New York game, particularly in the first half. Quarterback Andrew Luck throwing a couple of touchdown passes to wide receivers Reggie Wayne (a diving grab of a double batted ball that should have been intercepted) and T.Y. Hilton.
“Would have liked to have a few more yards on the ground offensively. We tried to balance that thing out. We talked about being more balanced, I think we were,” Pagano said. “Pleased with that. Pleased with the effort. Special teams, some good things happening there. We had some miscues. We’ll look at the tape and get those cleaned up.
“It was a good win and I’m really proud of the guys, the coaches did an unbelievable job getting these guys ready and the way these guys bounced back.”
FLEENER, SIDBURY CHECK OUT OK
Tight end Coby Fleener and outside linebacker Lawrence Sidbury left the Giants’ game early with knee and shoulder issues, respectively.
Both underwent magnetic resonance imaging tests Monday, which proved to be negative.
“MRIs came back and they were negative and it looks like [Fleener] might miss some time early this week and then be back in the swing of things. Probably work him back into practice on Thursday and Friday,” Pagano said. “Sidbury was the other one. His came back negative also. He’s going to be day-to-day, really. He might miss a few days this week and we’ll look to see how he’s feeling towards the end of the week and if he’s going to be available for Saturday [preseason home game with Cleveland].”
Tight end Dwayne Allen has been sidelined for nearly two weeks with a foot injury. Allen, though, is out of his walking boot and might be able to see light practice this week.
“Yeah, he’s doing great. As a matter of fact, we’re going to monitor his reps [in practice]. It looks like he’s going to be able to get some work in [today], Wednesday, Thursday, go through the week.” the Colts coach said. “But again, we’ll monitor his reps and see how he does but he’s come back relatively quick.”
ANGERER, LANDRY DUE BACK
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer (foot) and strong safety LaRon Landry (knee) could return to the Indianapolis defensive lineup against the Browns.
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), though, will most likely sit out the game.
“Hopefully, we’ll get Landry. I think he should be able to get back in there. I’ll know more [today] or [Monday night] when I meet with our medical people to see how the treatment and everything went over the weekend. Hopefully, we get him back. I’m excited to get him back in there with [free safety Antoine] Bethea and the rest of the guys,” Pagano explained.
“We’re going to work Pat in. We worked him in last week, so I think we can increase the volume of reps on Pat and see where he’s at towards the end of the week and then make a decision if we want to get him in there for a few plays here and there. Ahmad is a guy that we said all along we’re going to err on the side of caution as we always say. But maybe he gets a chance to start working in there.”
MOALA OFF PUP LIST
Defensive end Fili Moala was activated off the Colts’ physically unable to perform list late Monday afternoon.
Moala has been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery this past spring. He had ramped up his rehab work over the last week.
With preseason workouts moving back to the team’s Farm Bureau Insurance facility on West 56th Street in Indianapolis, the Colts will have closed practices today, Wednesday and Thursday.
The Colts will face Cleveland at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.