"Marvin is running, he's running routes, he's working," he said. "What we are trying to do is avoid him playing one game and then sitting out more.
"It's really been a funny thing. He's been close to playing several weeks, but just not quite there. He ran some routes yesterday (Monday) and we're hoping he'll be able to get in to practice Wednesday.
With five regular season games and hopefully the playoffs in their future, Dungy expressed that the team will continue to be conservative in their decision-making regarding their star receiver, despite the fact that the Jaguars are nipping at the Colts' heels for the lead in the AFC South. And while he said that they would perhaps think a bit differently if they were down to their last couple of games of the season, they learned a valuable lesson from holding out safety Bob Sanders the last few weeks of the 2007 regular season. Sanders helped resurrect the team's struggling defense and helped propel the team to a Super Bowl victory.
When asked about the availability of offensive tackles Ryan Diem and Charlie Johnson, the Colts head coach said that both worked out with team team doctors and that the team is hopeful that they will be able to take the field against Jacksonville. And then he joked that offensive line coach Howard Mudd had already weighed in on the situation.
"Howard says if they don't play, he'll have to," Dungy said with a laugh. "So my sense is they'll play."
Colts have the advantage ... again
Tony Dungy and Bill Polian.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
As they prepare for Sunday's home game against the Jaguars, the Colts have gained a slight advantage against their chief AFC South rival for the second time this season. The schedule-makers were kind enough to have the first game betwen the teams in Jacksonville following the Colts' bye week. This time, the Colts had an extra couple of days to rest and prepare for the Jaguars due to playing on Thanksgiving Day.
"It does help you. You get a little more time to think clearly on it, to really sit down and talk about what you want to do," Dungy explained. "Teams that know each other so well, sometimes that extra day or so can just give you a little bit of a fresh edge."
One of the keys that Dungy noted about preparing for the Jaguars is finding ways to help the defense be successful on first down against Jacksonville.
"Our big thing is we've got to play fundamentally sound, tackle those backs and try to get them into 2nd-and-8, 2nd-and-9. When they're in 2nd-and-4, they really play well and they pound you," he said.
Beware of the breakaway
Fortunately for Dungy and the Colts, the Jaguars haven't had great success setting themselves up for the those 2nd-and-four situations this year. They're currently ranked 27th in the league in gaining 4-plus yards on first down with a 42.5 percent success rate. By comparison, the Colts are ranked 12th in that category with a 48.9 percent success rate.
But overall, the Jaguars are averaging 5.36 yards on first down. That's mainly due to the fact that they have been able to make some big plays. Five times this season they've opened a set of downs with a 40-plus yard play. They've also had two first-down plays of 30-plus yards and twelve more of 20-plus yards — tied for fourth best in the league in that category.
But Indianapolis will have to be wary of the Jaguars' big-play ability every time they snap the ball, especially on running plays powered by Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars rushing attack is second in the league in runs of 10-plus yards with 42 — compared to an NFL average of 31.
Statistics referenced in this article are provided by STATS, LLC. Copyright 2007 by STATS, LLC. Any use or distribution of such Licensed Materials without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.