A New McNair
A noticeable difference in McNair during his first three games of the 2005 season is that he's not putting himself at risk as frequently, attempting to gain yards on the ground like he used to. Over a 7-year stretch through the 2002 season, McNair scrambled and used his feet to gain an average of more than 400 yards per season on seventy to over a hundred attempts -- an average of roughly five times per game. Over the past two seasons, he's averaged 133 yards while taking off just under three times per game. Over the first three games of 2005, McNair has been content to stay in the pocket more or scramble to buy time before throwing it away. He's running just twice per game and is averaging 0.8 yards per attempt for a total of five yards.
Watch the Clock
The Colts have a one-game edge (11-10) against the Titans, but have won four straight matchups over the past two seasons. The Titans' formula for beating the Colts is simple; they must win the time of possession battle. Since 1999, they've won 71.4% of the games where they held that advantage over their opponent (50 wins-20 losses). The Colts have won 15 of their last 19 games within the AFC South.
Colts Return Game
Ran Carthon (thigh) was back at practice on Friday and is likely to handle
kickoffs again this week. Dominic Rhodes is showing improvement with his shoulder injury, but
it's likely that he won't test it with live action until next weekend against
the 49ers. Carthon has averaged 18.8 yards per return on his four attempts with
his longest return being 25 yards. Rhodes averaged 25.5 yards on his two returns
prior to his injury.
The Colts thought they might have to turn to cornerback Jason David to step in for wide receiver Troy Walters who was working through a hamstring problem this week. But according to head coach Tony Dungy, Walter should be game-ready for the Titans.
"It looks like he should be OK," Dungy said. "If he doesn't have any problems coming in tomorrow, he should be fine."
Slow, Painful Progress
A few of the Colts who have missed games already this season don't appear to
be coming back within the next week. It's likely that defensive tackle Vincent Burns (knee), linebacker Gilbert Gardner (ankle) and safety Joseph Jefferson
(toe) will miss at least two more weeks of action. Running back James Mungro
appears to have the best chance of returning by next week or at worst the
following week unless he suffers a setback.
"He's an unbelievable player playing out of his mind right now." -- Colts defensive tackle Larry Tripplett on teammate Dwight Freeney