Dungy: Fast Start Is Important

Tony Dungy spoke with the media after practice Thursday. The Colts coach talked about how noise level can be a home-field advantage, how important it is to get off to a fast start in the AFC South, how Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes are settling into their roles and more!

On how noise will translate from the RCA Dome to Lucas Oil Stadium:

"I think it's really the fans that make the noise level. Everybody says the dome helps, but we look at some of the places that are tough for us to go; Kansas City is probably the place that comes to mind the quickest, and that's not a dome. Minnesota is tough, and has been tough, but I think it's the fans. For us, it probably started in 2003. Our fans were very used to being quiet because of the no-huddle offense. We were always asking for quiet on offense and it took a while for that noise to really come around. I'm sure we are going to see it Sunday night, if we have the roof open, that the noise is going to be about the same and it's really the fans and not necessarily the venue that make it."

On the noise level at Qwest Field:

"We played in Qwest, and it was a preseason game, and it was pretty loud. I know it was the first game they had the new turf, I don't know if it was the first game of that stadium or not, but it was loud. Their fans had a dome and they were loud and the noise was a factor and it helped their team and I think they took pride in that and wanted to be just as loud and just as vocal and they had been. As I said, I coached in Kansas City for three years and they never had a dome, but it was always a loud place. A couple of my neighbors out there, after big games, they would come home and say ‘We never sat down all game.' They were so proud of it, that they were a factor in the game and making it a tough place to play, and I think we have fans like that."

On if Colts fans are like that:

"Absolutely. When you talk to other people from other teams, they talk about it and they talk about changing what they do and having to go to silent snap counts and maybe coming in with a different game plan and throwing the ball quicker here than when they play us at their place. You do realize it's a factor."

On if the fast starts are a by-product of preseason approach:

"I would like to say it's all the head coach, but I don't think that's the case. I really think, from my vantage point, it's the fact that we have an experienced offense and our offense usually comes out clicking pretty well. Normally, early in the season, the defenses are a little bit ahead of the offenses. The offenses take their time to get their timing down and you play more low-scoring games early on. We've just had the good fortune of playing well on offense, of not having a lot of turnovers and problems, and scoring puts early on. If I had to point to one thing, I would say the experience factor we have on offense has really helped us get to those good starts."

On the importance of a fast start:

"I've always thought that was good, because I have been on the other end in Tampa, where you're 3-3 or 3-4 and you feel like you have to get on a streak and you have to play perfect. Not only do you have to win your games, you're watching the scoreboard hoping the other teams lose. It can be done, but that's a hard way to go. It's much easier when you have the one-game lead or the two-game lead and they're trying to catch you."

On the AFC South being one of the toughest divisions:

"I've always thought it was tough. I think the national attention is catching up to it because our teams are getting on TV a little bit more that we had three teams in the playoffs last year. The year we won the Super Bowl, we lost three games in a row in our division. The other years, even when we've gone 5-1 or 6-0, we've had tight games and tough games. It is a division that has good quarterbacking. It has very, very solid coaching. You have Houston, who is coming from an expansion era, but they've drafted so well. Especially their young defensive players — (DE) Mario Williams and (LB DeMeco) Ryans and (CB) Dunta Robinson when he gets back — are really coming on now. It's a tough division and we have a lot of pride in the fact that we do think we're in the toughest division in football."

On how QB Peyton Manning looked in practice:

"Peyton went the whole practice and did fine. I think, for us, we've gotten out of the ‘Let's watch Peyton' mode and see how many plays he does and what he is able to do. We monitored him early on that first week, but as far as this week, it's like a normal practice week for us. It was (Wednesday) and I think that's the way it's going to be from here on out."

On if he has talked to Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith:

"I talked to Lovie a little bit (Wednesday), and he's doing well and looking forward to seeing our new stadium."

On LB Gary Brackett and Manning being named captains:

"It's an election process, and they were elected by our team. That's the way we do it. We don't elect special teams captains, we kind of change those week to week. (K) Adam (Vinatieri) will start out the first game, and then we will go on who has the best special-teams game. It's kind of an honor. We have a number of guys who provide that leadership, but Gary and Peyton are the guys that got elected by their teammates."

On if RBs Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes have settled back into their roles from the 2006 season:

"They have. I would imagine that's how it's going to go in the regular season. Joseph will start the games, but Dom is ready to go. When Joseph needs a break, he'll go in there. We want to keep both of those guys fresh so that whoever is running in the fourth quarter is ready to go. That's what we had in the playoffs that year, and it was good for us that we had a fresh guy in there when we had to make plays in the fourth quarter. Who that ends up being, I don't think those guys care that much. They know they're both going to play, and they're both going to get the ball their share of the time. It worked out pretty well and hopefully we can duplicate that."

On Rhodes being back with the team:

"I think it's good for him. He knows our offense, so it wasn't like a new guy having to come in and do a lot of work to get himself up to speed. I would think he is mentally fresh and physically fresh. He should give us a big lift."

On how much he will work RB Mike Hart into the rotation:

"That will depend on those first two guys. They're pretty good. We have a lot of confidence in Mike, and we'll have certain things for him, but for the most part I would think, early on especially, it will be Joe and Dom carrying the load."


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