Dungy: On The Doorstep

The Colts won their seventh straight game to improve to 10-6 on the season, but head coach Tony Dungy isn't taking anything for granted. He knows the Colts can clinch a playoff spot with a win Thursday over the Jaguars, and his focus is on that. See what the coach had to say about injury updates, playing on a short week, and more inside!

"We've kind of put ourselves on the doorstep. In checking with the league, we're one win away from being in the playoffs, so that's our concentration and our focus on a short week getting ready for Jacksonville, to get a win and get ourselves in the playoffs. (Sunday vs. Detroit) was tough and hard fought. Detroit battled back several times, and we had some chances to maybe give ourselves some room, but obviously the turnovers on the punts hurt us and a couple of big plays they got offensively. But, all in all, I'm happy with winning the ball game. We are going to need to be much sharper going down to Jacksonville. We're giving the players off (Monday), working on a short week. (Tuesday's) practice will be like a Wednesday. We'll have a short practice on Wednesday and fly down right after that and get ready to go. We're going to use the same schedule we did last Thanksgiving going to Atlanta, and hopefully it'll work as well."

On how long it takes to recover from a game:

"It varies, but it takes you, probably, five or six days physically to really recover. Mentally, you have to fight through that and get through it. That part is not that much of a problem because we always say, ‘You come in on Wednesday ready to go. Forget about the last game.' But, physically, it does. The Thursday night games, you don't have as much traction and energy as you would on a Sunday when you have the extra three days."

On if the players are told to rest when they aren't practicing:

"You do. Our veteran guys talked to the rookies in the locker room about resting up, ‘You'll feel a little exuberance and want to go out, but you have to force yourself to get that extra rest.' Fortunately, it's a night game and sometimes on the road that's a little easier. We'll fly down there, get a good rest in the hotel and then have a good rest time on Thursday morning as well. It's the same for both teams, and we'll be fine. We'll be ready."

On if he has to remind the players that the team is not in the playoffs yet:

"That was the last thing we said (Sunday) night before we left the locker room. Our magic number is one and we can't count on anybody else to lose, so we have to get a win. That's the way to get yourselves in, and that's the way we have to look at it. It's a must-win game because a win puts you in the playoffs and we're not in yet."

On if Jacksonville would like to keep the Colts from making the playoffs:

"I'm sure they would like to knock us out. We haven't really been in that situation, but when you are and you can't get in, that's the motivation, especially if it's a division rival. I'm sure they would like to keep us out of the playoffs, so I'm sure we'll get their best."

On if the team came out of Sunday's game OK injury wise:

"I think so. We had the normal bumps and bruises. Nobody that is any different than last week. We just don't have as much time to recover. Some of our guys, (DE) Dwight (Freeney) (DB) Antoine Bethea, (DE) Robert Mathis, guys who have been nursing some injuries along, I think they'll be able to play, but usually it's Thursday before they're getting back into practice. We'll keep them rested up, and I think we'll be ready to go."

On if the team was able to rest players during Sunday's game vs. Detroit:

"Not as much as we would have hoped. We were hoping to get a little cushion and maybe get some of our guys out, but that didn't materialize, so it was pretty much like a normal game."

On DTs Eric Foster and Keyunta Dawson:

"I think they'll be back and ready to go with (DB) Bob Sanders. I think those guys will be ready."

On LB-Clint Session saying he played poorly in the first game vs. Jacksonville:

"We were watching it today, and those backs do that. There wasn't a whole lot wrong with what we did, other than not tackling (RB-Fred) Taylor and (RB-Maurice) Jones-Drew when we were free. They do that to a lot of people, so that's going to be our test. When we play eight-man fronts and they block it up to make the eighth guy have to make the tackle, we're going to have to get those guys down. We are playing better. We had some penalty issues, we had a turnover for a touchdown in that game, and we didn't do a great job against their run. It was a game we lost, and we can't have a duplication of that kind of performance."

On if he noticed a moment that Session "got it":

"I don't think it was one moment, per se, but obviously the more you play the more comfortable you get, the better you get, and Clint has progressed very, very well. He's playing at a high level and had one of the best games a linebacker has had here in a while (Sunday vs. Detroit). He had a lot of tackles, tackles for losses, around the football, so it's coming for him but I don't know that it was just, ‘I didn't have it and then all of a sudden I did.' I think it's just playing more and being more comfortable and playing relaxed and doing what he can do."

On if players sometimes have to be humbled to improve:

"No, I don't think it's that. In his case, I think it's just a case of relaxing and knowing your rules and being able to let your ability take over and not having to worry about where I'm supposed to be. He knows it a lot better now than he did 10 games ago."

On if the team's LBs are humble:

"They work at it, and they are not satisfied with average. I guess that's why we like them."

On if he expects the running game to improve more when RB-Joseph Addai returns:

"We hope to. Detroit played to take away the pass in quite a few situations, and we had to run it. We got our outside run going, and that was good to see. We have to keep that going. I think it was a concerted effort by (Offensive Coordinator) Tom (Moore) calling the runs. Our line did a good job of blocking it. (Detroit) played a lot of seven-man fronts and doubled our wide receivers, so it gave us the opportunity to run some."

On having a big run called back because of a holding penalty two games in a row:

"Two weeks ago was questionable. This week wasn't even questionable, so we'll leave it at that."

On what he tells OG-Mike Pollak about those penalties:

"Just keep blocking. Do the exact same thing. Block the guy the exact same way the next time, and if it gets called holding again we'll have to figure it out I guess, but that was just too bad."

On if he saw the muffed punt bounce off PR-Keiwan Ratliff:

"I still haven't seen the TV copy, and that's what the officials go by. I talked to (NFL Vice President of Officiating) Mike Pereira, and he said from the views that they had you couldn't tell who the ball hit so (the referee) couldn't overturn it. We have to go with that. I haven't seen the TV copy myself."

On if he will make a change at PR:

"I don't know that we're really looking to make a change. The first one he just has to yell louder. We have a code word that he's going to fair catch it and it's short to get everybody out of the way. He's yelling, but he just has to yell louder. We had that happen against Houston three or four years ago. We had two balls bounce off our guys, and that just happens. On the other one, he had a pretty good return going and fumbled the ball. You just have to hold on to it. You can't fumble. But, he's a sure-handed guy back there, he catches the ball well and hopefully that was just a one-time thing."

On why the Colts were able to keep things in perspective and improve after starting the season 3-4:

"I think it's a lot of things. It's the fact that we've been through a lot together, and we rely on those past experiences. We have good, hard-working guys who understand that the most important thing is winning. Because we've won so many games, we realize that what you did last week doesn't really have any bearing on what's going to happen next week, so we try to keep all that in perspective. But, at 3-4 we knew what the problems were. A lot of it was ourselves and our execution and that's what we focused on more so than pointing the finger at someone or figuring out who's to blame. I think a lot of that goes back to the players really listening to the coaches."

On teams continuing to bite on play action:

"When you're on defense, you have to play what you see. Detroit did a good job. They were very disciplined and they had their linebackers really holding and not going after the play action. It becomes tough, and that's where we have to run the ball better. If people are going to do that, we have to make them pay and be able to run the ball a little bit better. We're still not satisfied, but the last couple of games we've run it effectively when we needed to."

On the rookie RBs the Colts have faced this season:

"Really good backs. Different kinds of guys, but they all run hard and tough and they all want the ball. We'll see (Tennessee RB) Chris Johnson next week. I was impressed with (Houston RB-Steve) Slaton. I think he fits in their offense really well. What all of those guys have given them is a chance to make big plays in the running game. That's what (RB) Joseph (Addai) and (RB) Dom(inic Rhodes) have given us the last couple of years. When you have that, it's a big advantage to the play caller. You can call some runs in passing situations and make a 10- or 11-yard run that gets you out of the hole, and that helps. Those are very, very good rookie backs."

On the status of LB-Gary Brackett and DB-Bob Sanders for Thursday's game at Jacksonville:

"Gary will not play, but I think Bob should play and be ready to go."

On LB-Tyjuan Hagler:

"Tyjuan is going to work out (Monday), and if everything goes well then he's going to be cleared for practice (Tuesday)."

On if he has thought about clinching the fifth seed in the playoffs this week:

"We have thought about that. That's going to be our focus to the players. If we win this game, that'll put us at the five spot. Nothing we could do then the following week, we can't get to four and we couldn't drop to six."

On what happens if the Colts clinch the fifth seed:

"If that happens, then we'll play it like we've played all of those games in that situation. We'll rest the guys that need rest and play the guys that need to play. If we don't win this week, then next week becomes a must win and that's how we'll approach it. We're looking at this as being a playoff game for us getting ourselves in."

On if rest next week is the incentive to win this week:

"That will be the incentive, that practice will be a little bit different, we'll have some more days off after this game. If we don't win, then we have to come back in and go to work and get ready to go and then we'll have another playoff game next week."

On comparing WR-Marvin Harrison and former Minnesota WR-Cris Carter:

"Different types of receivers, definitely, but the things that are similar are the tremendous desire to have the ball, the innate smartness and understanding the game and how to get open and how people are playing you, the concentration on the ball when it's in the air, being able to block everything else out. Cris did most of his work inside working against linebackers and big people inside and finding ways to get open there and taking hits and catching the ball. Marvin, most of his stuff is on the outside. Cris was quick in and out of breaks, too. Cris wasn't nearly as fast as Marvin, but the quickness out of the cuts and getting to full speed quickly. More than anything, they know the game, both guys, and both are really top players."


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