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Posts of category  "Colts"

We don’t need to run through the Indianapolis Colts offseason additions for the 100th time in order to begin talking about what they have on the defensive side of the ball. However, we are going to talk about them.

The Colts defense is getting some very interesting results just three games into the season. Everyone saw the whoopin’ they took in Los Angeles, and we’ve had to sit and watch back-to-back double digit games turn into 3-point games in each direction the last two weeks.

But, quietly the Colts are putting forth some impressive numbers in a few areas in need of massive improvement. On the other hand, they’re also dropping some nasty stats that, if cleaned up, could get the team pretty close to where they want to be on that side of the ball.

For example, the Colts have been down right disgusting under Chuck Pagano against the run finishing no better than 19th in the league in yards per carry, and no better than 18th in rush yards allowed per game since 2012. So far this year, the Colts are 6th in the league (among teams with 3 games played) allowing 3.3 yards per carry, and 8th in the league (with 3 games) allowing 85.7 rush yards per game.

Now, I understand all of that can change, but last year through three weeks they were giving up over 95 yards per game and over 4.6 yards per carry. Improvement is nice, and the front four have been doing a great job thus far.

Similarly, the Colts have been slap-your-momma ugly in coverage as well under Pagano with the exception of the 2014 season in which the team was 15th in yards allowed per attempt and 12th in passing yards allowed per game. With that said, the rest of the passing defense statistics that season weren’t all that impressive.

This season the Colts have been a little up and down in coverage to say the least. And once again, we see some interesting areas of their game, and some concerning facets just the same.

Thus far the Colts have given up a stingy 55.8% completion rate (4th in NFL) on 113 attempts (6th most in NFL), putting them in very good company near the best coverage units in the league. They’ve also given up 4 touchdowns (T-11) and have forced 4 interceptions (T-3) which puts them in a nice spot as well.

But, as you can imagine there’s another side to this coverage unit.

The Colts have given up 20 pass plays of 20 yards or more (32nd), are allowing 7.9 yards per pass attempt (24th), 283.7 pass yards per game (29th) and are allowing a 35.4% first down percentage (18th) as well.

Talk about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from this group in coverage.

When we look at the pass rush, we see some growth with getting in the quarterback’s face — and the completion rate is an indicator of this — but with only 6 sacks (T-20) through three games there’s an obvious understanding that the team needs to finish more.

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Intro: The more Rigoberto Sanchez and Luke Rhodes work together, the better the results. So far, through three weeks of the season, the new Indianapolis Colts specialists have certainly impressed.

INDIANAPOLIS — How do you possibly try to fill the shoes of established Pro Bowlers and fan favorites?

If you’re Rigoberto Sanchez and Luke Rhodes, the answer is simple: you don’t. You hope your play on the field, as well as your efforts off of it, allow you to forge your own identity.

Through three games this season, it’s been “so far, so good” for the Colts’ new specialists, whose hard work together on the practice field has definitely translated into success on gamedays.

“It’s all about getting those constant practices with Luke,” Sanchez said. “Going out every single day, just working at it, grinding at it, and I feel like that’s the biggest thing is just repetition. So practice is huge, so we can take it into the game on Sunday.”

Sanchez went out and simply earned his role as the Colts’ new punter and kickoff specialist this offseason. Although the team signed punter Jeff Locke early on in free agency, it was Sanchez’s consistency and potential that led the team to pick the undrafted rookie out of Hawaii over Locke, a fifth-year veteran.

Both Sanchez and Locke were vying to be the replacement for All-Pro Pat McAfee, who surprised many when he decided to retire following another Pro Bowl performance in 2016 to pursue a career in entertainment and media.

Although Sanchez and McAfee certainly bring different skillsets to the table as both punters and kickoff specialists, the Colts’ coverage units haven’t missed a beat with the rookie Sanchez handling the kicking duties so far this season. Through three games, Sanchez has punted 20 times for 925 yards — an average of 46.3 yards per punt — and has a net average of 44.2 yards per kick. Seven of Sanchez’s punts have landed inside the 20-yard line, seven have resulted in fair catches and just five have been returned for 21 total yards (4.2 avg.).

Ten of Sanchez’s 14 kickoffs, meanwhile, have resulted in touchbacks, while the remaining four kickoffs have been returned for 83 yards, for a 20.75-yard average, ranking him seventh in the league among all kickers in that category.

For Sanchez — who was named to Pro Football Focus’ Week 2 “Team of the Week” — while he certainly respects the standard McAfee was able to establish here in Indy, he just hopes to continue cultivating his own identity for the Horseshoe.

“I learned a lot from Pat, just watching his highlight films. You can’t take that away from him,” Sanchez said of McAfee. “But, yeah, I’ve just got to focus on myself and what the team expects from me, and just keep working on it every week; keep focusing on the now.”

The same can be said of Rhodes. A converted inside linebacker, Rhodes was asked this season to give snapping a shot after the team decided to release longtime long snapper Matt Overton, a community star and Pro Bowl selection in his time with the Colts who has since signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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Intro: The Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday announced several roster moves, including the signing of wide receiver Krishawn Hogan from the practice squad to the active roster.

The Indianapolis Colts today elevated wide receiver Krishawn Hogan to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.

The team also signed tight end Marcus Lucas and guard Ian Silberman to the practice squad and released outside linebacker Johnathan Calvin, tight end Henry Krieger-Coble and tackle Andrew Wylie from the practice squad.

Hogan, 6-3, 222 pounds, was signed to the Colts’ practice squad on September 4. The Indianapolis native participated in the Arizona Cardinals’ 2017 offseason program and training camp before being waived during final cuts on September 2. Hogan originally signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent on May 2, 2017. He participated in the Colts’ 2017 Local Pro Day on April 12.

Collegiately, Hogan played in 40 games at Marian and finished with 263 receptions for 4,395 yards (16.7 avg.) and 42 touchdowns. He also threw one touchdown and registered 63 carries for 170 yards and 25 touchdowns. Hogan established school records in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He ranks second in school history in all-purpose yards (4,565) and scoring (402). Hogan’s 263 career receptions are the seventh-most in NAIA history. As a senior in 2016, he caught 80 passes for 1,435 yards and 15 touchdowns en route to earning All-Mid-States Football Association Offensive Player of the Year honors as well as First Team All-MSFA recognition. He also threw one touchdown and compiled 23 carries for 43 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Lucas, 6-4, 250 pounds, most recently participated in the Seattle Seahawks’ 2017 offseason program and training camp before being waived on August 27, 2017. He has previously spent time on the practice squads of the Seahawks (2016), Chicago Bears (2015), Miami Dolphins (2015) and Carolina Panthers (2014). Collegiately, Lucas played in 49 games (23 starts) at Missouri and compiled 130 receptions for 1,638 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Silberman, 6-5, 305 pounds, was originally claimed by Indianapolis off waivers (from Oakland) on September 3. He has played in one career game in his time with the Colts (2017), Raiders (2016), New England Patriots (2016) and San Francisco 49ers (2015). Silberman was originally selected by the 49ers in the sixth round (190th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Boston College.

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After Indianapolis Colts first-round draft pick Malik Hooker got his first career start in Week 2 against Arizona, coach Chuck Pagano was asked how he would go about dividing the snaps when veteran Darius Butler returned from his one-week injury-related absence.

His answer: “We’re going to need them all,” Pagano said, referring to Hooker, Butler and strong safety Matthias Farley.

And, now, we know exactly what he meant.

Pagano and defensive coordinator Ted Monachino used a three-safety rotation in Sunday’s game, with Hooker playing practically all the snaps and Farley and Butler rotating as situations dictated.

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A detail view of an Indianapolis Colts helmet is seen on the field prior to an NFL football game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Indianapolis won 27-20. (Aaron M. Sprecher via AP)

The Indianapolis Colts today signed wide receiver Matt Hazel, running back Troymaine Pope and cornerback Channing Stribling to the practice squad.

The Indianapolis Colts today signed wide receiver Matt Hazel, running back Troymaine Pope and cornerback Channing Stribling to the practice squad.

Hazel, 6-1, 195 pounds, was originally claimed by the Colts off waivers (from Washington) on September 3, 2017. He has seen action in two games for Indianapolis this season and caught one pass for one yard. Hazel has appeared in seven career games (one start) in his time with the Colts (2017), Redskins (2016), Buffalo Bills (2016) and Miami Dolphins (2014-15). He was originally selected by the Dolphins in the sixth round (190th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Coastal Carolina.

Pope, 5-8, 205 pounds, participated in Indianapolis’ 2017 offseason program and training camp before being waived during final cuts on September 2. He originally signed with the Colts as a free agent on June 15, 2017. Pope has appeared in four career games and registered 12 carries for 44 yards (3.7 avg.) in his time with the Seattle Seahawks (2016) and New York Jets (2016). He has also caught one pass for five yards. Pope originally signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent on August 6, 2016 out of Jacksonville State.

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Each week in the Colts 2017 season should be interesting because there has been so much turnover over the last 9 months. No unit in the NFL has experienced more turnover than the Colts defense, and after giving up a lot of points in the season opener, it was interesting to see how the unit would bounce back.

One of the most successful areas for the defense in Los Angeles was stopping the run. They held the Rams ground game to 1.9 yards per carry and bottled up Todd Gurley for much of the game.

The problem with using the Rams game as a barometer for the run defense has to do with situational advantage. Teams with big leads tend to run the ball more to eat up clock. Defenses and coordinators know this so they load up the box and play in run strong packages that could paint an inaccurate picture.

Against the Cardinals, the Colts defense had no such benefit. The game was close throughout and there was never a time that Bruce Arians and the Arizona offense was forced to go one way or another. Granted, this was a different unit without David Johnson in the game but defensive discipline and preparation for all phases was required for the full game.

In the end, the Colts held the Cardinals to a respectable 3.3 yards per carry on the ground. Over two games, they are holding opposing running backs to 2.5 yards per attempt (2nd in the NFL) and have given up the 7th lowest rushing yards per game at 73. They have given up no carries of 20 or more yards.

Let’s take a look at the tape and see where Indianapolis showed strengths and weaknesses in defending against the run.

On one of the longest rushing plays for the Cardinals in the game, Jabaal Sheard fails to hold the edge and Jon Bostic comes up toward the line of scrimmage too early. You teach football players very early that you play the ball laterally first before you pursue up the field. You do this because when you run blindly up the field and the play is coming in your direction, you make it more difficult to chase the play down — you tighten the angles and reduce your ability to react. You also get yourself caught up in blocks for no reason.

Rashaan Melvin does his part to force the play out of bounds, or back inside where Malik Hooker can clean it up, but it’s after a an 11-yard gain.

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Ball State University senior nursing student, Tyler Hostetler, is making a difference in the lives of patients at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health one magic trick at a time.

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts are proud to announce Tyler Hostetler, a local Goshen, IN resident as the second 2017 season honoree of the Colts Anthem Angels program, presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Hostetler will be recognized at the Colts home game this Sunday, September 24, 2017.

Ball State University senior nursing student, Tyler Hostetler, is making a difference in the lives of patients at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health one magic trick at a time.

When Hostetler volunteers at the hospital, he shows patients magic tricks, and then supplies them the materials so that they can share the tricks with others.

“Magic is something different. It leaves a wonder in their eyes. They [the patients] kind of forget about everything in reality and it’s all just kind of magical to them. A way to escape what’s real,” said Hostetler.

Hostetler has personally raised over $4,000 for Riley Children’s Health through Riley Dance Marathon at Ball State University. In addition to his volunteerism at Riley at IU Health, Hostetler spent five weeks in Kenya volunteering with a medical aid organization working in both hospitals, orphanages and local neighborhoods. His volunteer experiences have been the driving force behind his goal of becoming a nurse to one-day work at Riley Children’s Health.

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Malik Hooker missed all of Indy’s offseason team activities while recovering from surgery and was limited throughout training camp by an assortment of other nagging injuries.

INDIANAPOLIS — Vontae Davis sounds like a proud father when discussing his newest Indianapolis Colts teammates.

He told reporters this week that he sent safety Malik Hooker back onto the field to retrieve the ball from his first interception, and that he couldn’t contain his excitement when cornerback Quincy Wilson came up with a big pass breakup.

Yes, Davis can see these rookies growing up fast and he’s keeping track of every step they make.

“They’re competing and finishing, and I can see since training camp those guys have been getting better,” the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback said . “With time, they’re going to continue to get better. The more games they play, the more they learn, the more experience they get.”

It’s no surprise to the Colts.

General manager Chris Ballard saw enough of Hooker’s play-making skills at Ohio State and Wilson’s coverage skills at Florida to use his first two draft picks on them in April. Pagano thought so highly of Hooker he compared the first rounder to Ed Reed, the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year whom he coached in Baltimore.

Still, the Colts stayed cautious leading up to the regular season.

Hooker missed all of Indy’s offseason team activities while recovering from surgery and was limited throughout training camp by an assortment of other nagging injuries. Wilson, meanwhile, got plenty of action in camp, but the Colts (0-2) worked him into the lineup slowly.

Last week, they threw both into the starting lineup with safety Darius Butler (hamstring) and Davis (groin) out and the rookies were an instant hit.

Hooker finished with two tackles and an interception in the 16-13 overtime loss to Arizona. Wilson had two tackles and two passes defensed and Nate Hairston, a fifth-round pick from Temple, logged four tackles and his first sack. But Wilson missed practice Thursday with a knee injury.

“It gave us a lot of confidence that we’re capable of going out there and communicating among ourselves without having a vet guy back there,” Hooker said after his first start.

“So for us, I feel like this is just the next step. Now it’s more so building off of this one and getting ready for next week.”

For a team that wanted to get younger and more productive on defense, that’s good news.

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Rob Chudzinski, Offensive Coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, talks about last week’s game, and looks ahead to this week’s opponent, Indianapolis, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. Robert Scheer/IndyStar

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INDIANAPOLIS – You can dwell on the four sacks, or you can concentrate on the spacious running lanes.

You can fixate on the few breakdowns in protection, or focus on the many clean pockets.

How you assess the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line so far in 2017 is mostly a matter of perspective. Really, you can see whatever you want.

If you wish to criticize, there’s ample room to do so. If you prefer to point to the unit’s occasionally impressive play, that is certainly justifiable, too.

It wouldn’t be the Colts if the offensive line wasn’t a source of debate. But whatever your assessment, let’s get one thing straight:

Jim Irsay was wrong.

When the Colts owner said in June, “The offensive line is fixed,” he jumped the proverbial gun. But that infamous statement at a Colts town hall doesn’t mean this Colts’ offensive line isn’t salvageable.

Be sure to look at the complete picture before drawing premature conclusions.

“There’s always some half-full, always some half-empty,” offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said.

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The Calgary Colts’ Brandon MacIsaac makes a catch in front of Saskatoon Hilltops, James Vause during game action at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sunday, September 17, 2017. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia DARREN MAKOWICHUK/POSTMEDIA

There’s a new man at the helm of the Calgary Colts.

But steering this listing ship through rough waters is a massive task for anyone.

The Colts, piloted by former CFL assistant Tim Kearse, experienced that same feeling Sunday they’ve felt too often this season, dropping their fourth Prairie Football Conference game in five starts — this one a 41-9 decision to the Saskatoon Hilltops at McMahon Stadium.

The difference was the week prior to the game provided some drama that the young players could ill afford.

On Monday, the Colts head coach Matt ‘Snoop’ Blokker tendered his resignation, leaving the team to scramble in preparation for their game against the always-dangerous Hilltops.

Blokker cited “personal reasons” for his departure.

The Colts turned to assistant head coach Kearse to assume the head duties on an interim basis.

“It caught everybody off-guard — players, coaches …” said Kearse, a former NFL and CFL player with an abundance of coaching expertise. “It was a bit of an emotional week. We weren’t sure what we were going to have. We had some coaches that decided they were going to stay aboard, and we had players who decided they would stay aboard.

“It was a work-in-progress-type week, dealing with kids from a sports psychologist standpoint. We’re trying to get their mental back because it was very emotional, and you’re talking about 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids. For some of them, it was the most dramatic week.”

When the Colts turned to him, the 57-year-old didn’t hesitate.

“Happy to do it because I felt I needed to do that for these kids,” said Kearse. “Adults had something that was an issue, not the kids, so let’s not punish the kids.”

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