The line to the cold tubs began on Sunday afternoon. And the Indianapolis Colts will keep icing themselves down then massaging muscles to get sore bodies as ready as possible in a short week for a Thursday night game at Houston.
“That’s what you’ve got the training room for, the hot tub for, the cold tub for,” defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said after Sunday’s 20-13 win over Baltimore at Lucas Oil Stadium. “People should be heading to the training room, people should getting cold tub, hot tub, anything that can get your body back quick.
“That’s how you’re going to compete with yourself this week. Mentally, it’s getting everything down and looking at everything. Physically, it’s getting in the training room and getting in the weight room and getting your body feeling like it did before the last game. This is going to be a test for both of us.”
Defensive end Cory Redding said he was headed to the cold tub as soon as he was finished talking to reporters after Sunday’s victory. A day later at the team complex, not much had changed.
“Once I’m done with you guys, I’m going to go submerge myself in 30-degree water for about 10 to 15 minutes, hit these weights, watch tape, and go through practice,” Redding said Monday. “Once practice is over, submerge myself for another 15 minutes probably. Two tubs (Monday), two cold tubs (Tuesday), hot tubs and all that hot lather stuff on Wednesday and just getting ready for the game on Thursday.”
The 12th-year pro remembers the good, old days when he was young and could bounce back from a game in a day. These days, his 33-year-old body doesn’t seem to come around until the next Saturday, or maybe even a few hours before the next game.
“When I was younger, I’d play a game on Sunday, I was ready to go Monday morning,” Redding said. “Shoot, I was young, ready to go. Now, as an old head, your body doesn’t feel right until Saturday. You hurt all week. That’s the game. That’s how physical it is and all the wear and tear on your body. That’s part of it. We knew what we signed up for.”
Cornerback Greg Toler said his 29-year-old body bounces back on a normal week by Wednesday.
“You can’t get enough treatment,” he said.
The Colts (3-2) and Texans (3-2) will meet at NRG Stadium to determine which team has the upper hand in the AFC South Division. The Colts are defending champions. The Texans won the division in 2012 and 2011.
Players have complained about the short weeks for years. Texans running back Arian Foster was the latest to make headlines when he spoke Monday of the hypocrisy of an NFL that preaches the importance of safety yet forces players back on the field in such a short time period.
“Thursday Night Football is pretty annoying for players,” Foster said. “I don’t know one player that likes it. I really don’t know a fan that likes it, either. I think it’s just the league’s way to try to generate more revenue but that’s what they are here for.”
Foster told the Houston Chronicle that he didn’t know of a single player who liked playing on Thursday. Then he took some more shots at the league as well as the NFLPA.
“They emphasize concussions when they start getting hit with lawsuits and they care about the players’ safety but Thursday Night Football is putting every player on the football field in danger,” Foster said.
When asked about if the player union should do something about these games, Foster said, “Union and the league is kind of the same thing.”
Plus the Thursday night games have all been blowouts this season. The average margin of victory in the previous four turnaround games has been 31.3 points. The closest margin was 20 points.
Foster drives the Texans’ offense. His 404 rushing yards rank third in the league and he’s coming off a 157-yard, two-TD effort in Houston’s 20-17 overtime loss at Dallas Sunday.
“Arian Foster’s the key to making everything go in the offense,” Redding said. “You have to stop him.”
The Colts are 11th in rush defense at 101.8 yards allowed per game.
Thursday likely comes down to which team’s players recuperated more effectively.
“You really have no choice,” said Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. “I mean yes, you are going to have soreness after the game, but right now it takes me about two days to really feel back to normal. With the short week, you have no other excuse, you’ve got to get yourself ready. But mentally, once we get in the game plan and once we get down to the nit and grit of Houston’s offense, you kind of lose sight of what your body feels like. You’re ready for that next upcoming week.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.