Indystar.com reports: The Indianapolis Colts’ players sound like they expect to go for 15-0 with starters on Sunday, and that could include three injured players returning after lengthy absences.
Kicker Adam Vinatieri and rookie running back Donald Brown are hopeful they can join the other regulars, who today said they have not been told anything different about the plan for the home game against the New York Jets in terms of resting healthy or injured starters.
Wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, who returned to practice Monday, did not do any interviews and his status seems more in question. He’s been out since the season opener with a knee injury, but Colts president Bill Polian said on his Monday radio show he thought the receiver could return this game.
“Today, we’ll see,” Colts coach Jim Caldwell said of Gonzalez’s status, “but his road hasn’t been an easy one.”
Asked about how much work Vinatieri and Gonzalez would need to be ready for the playoffs, Caldwell said it depends on the player.
“I think in both cases this is a pretty important week,” he said.
Vinatieri has missed nine games after needing surgery on his right knee. Gonzalez didn’t make it through the first quarter in Week 1 when he went down with his knee injury, which after a practice setback required surgery. Brown, who has shared some of the backfield workload with starter Joseph Addai, has been out the last three games with a chest injury.
Quarterback Peyton Manning was among the locker-room contingent to meet with reporters for interviews and discussed at length the task of taking on the Jets (7-7). There wasn’t a hint that starters could play less because the AFC’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is secure.
“Coach Caldwell, as soon as he says something different in that meeting, I’m telling ya, you’all would be the first to know,” Manning said.
“It’s been about as consistent a Wednesday speech this year has it’s been all year: ‘This is what we have to do. This is what they’re very good at. We have to prepare for this and go out and do it.’ It was the same speech again today and that’s what we’re going to try to follow.”
Defensive end Dwight Freeney, who has been playing with an abdomen injury, said guys who have been playing hurt will be handled on an individual basis. But he said he intended to play. He and defensive end Robert Mathis, who has played with a quadriceps injury, were on a situational play count for Thursday’s 35-31 victory at Jacksonville.