Colts-Ravens Quick Hits

Keep up to date on this week's Colts-Ravens news with's Quick Hits!

Many people who watch the Colts from near and far wonder if the Colts defense has improved enough this season to help the team make a serious run at the Lombardi Trophy, they focus on the number of yards the Colts surrendered and overlook another important fact. During the second half of the season last year, if you exclude the last game against Denver when most of the Colts starters didn't play in a meaningless game, the Colts defense yielded an average of just 16 points per game.

That's good enough. 

And now they've added a very physical rookie defensive back, Marlin Jackson, who is likely to be the nickel back this weekend and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Corey Simon who will part-time action of roughly 25-30 plays. And don't forget that the Colts were tied for third-place in the NFL in both sacks and in producing turnovers last season.

Ravens' quarterback Kyle Boller has been under pressure throughout the preseason, and don't expect that to change on Sunday night. Boller faces an Indy defense that still has all the components in place from last year's unit that helped them finish in a tie for third in the league in sacks with 45. Defensive end Dwight Freeney has 40 sacks in his first three seasons, the third best start by an NFL player during that span. Only Reggie White (52) and Derrick Thomas (43.5) posted better results. At the other end, Robert Mathis had a strong preseason to build upon his success of posting 10.5 sacks last year. Inside, defensive end Raheem Brock will slide to left tackle paired up with right tackle Montae Reagor on obvious passing downs, unless Simon rotates in.

Ravens fans booed Boller during the preseason out of frustration, and head coach Brian Billick went public this week chastising fans for doing so and asking them not to do it Sunday night.

"I can't imagine, it's totally beyond me how a Baltimore Raven fan, a fan that wants this football team to do well regardless of what happens in a game ... how anybody can even think twice about wanting to support the Indianapolis Colts by [booing]," Billick said.

Whoever did the schedule for this Sunday night's matchup on national television knew what they were doing. Not only is the Colts-Ravens game a marquee matchup based on the talent of the teams and high expectations for both, but their historic link always raises interesting commentary. Add to that the fact that Sunday is the anniversary of the death of Colts legend Johnny Unitas and it becomes even more surreal. Unitas proudly wore the horseshoe that the Colts will wear on Sunday night, but embraced the city rather than the logo when faced with the choice of the Ravens versus the Colts. It seems quite fitting that the two teams should meet on a day that many current and past Colts fans, Baltimore Ravens fans, and fans nationally across the league will look back on with a somber reverence for the man who was truly a pro football legend.

Ravens kicker Matt Stover and Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt share one thing in common beyond being pretty darn good at kicking fields. Neither of their teams are fully settled with the thought of them handling kickoffs. Stover will kickoff against the Colts this Sunday night, but the Ravens could bring back kickoff specialist Wade Richey next week. And the Colts opted for Michigan State rookie Dave Rayner to handle kickoff duties rather than Vanderjagt after he showed better consistency in the last few preseason games.

It's going to be interesting to watch how well the Colts offense can perform against the Ravens' new addition to their defensive scheme -- the 46 alignment. While they will slip in and out of it, using it an estimated 25% of the time based on game situations, the 46 is a high-risk, high-reward formation that can result in one-on-one mismatches for the offense, or overwhelming chaos by the defense. The Colts hope that in the Ravens' first real test of the new formation during week one, they'll see more of the former than the latter. And if so, the launch of the 46 could actually be the downfall of the Ravens in this game. If they get behind early by giving up big plays, their offense may not have the firepower to keep pace -- especially if they have to do it through the air.

Former Ravens safety Gerome Sapp and wide receiver Brandon Stokley are only listed as probable for Sunday night's game, but neither one will miss their opportunity to play in Baltimore. Here's the full injury report as issued by the league.

Wednesday's Injury Report

Colts: OUT: DE Vincent Burns (knee); LB Gilbert Gardner (ankle); DE Jonathan Welsh (knee). DOUBTFUL: DT Montae Reagor (groin); RB Dominic Rhodes (foot). QUESTIONABLE: TE Dallas Clark (concussion); CB Marlin Jackson (shoulder). PROBABLE: T Ryan Diem (foot); TE Bryan Fletcher (abdomen); S Joseph Jefferson (knee); S Bob Sanders (hamstring/calf); S Gerome Sapp (shoulder); WR Brandon Stokley (shoulder); CB Donald Strickland (hamstring); DE Josh Thomas (knee). Ravens: QUESTIONABLE: WR Devard Darling (quadricep); T Adam Terry (ankle).

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