Those voices grew even louder when Caldwell decided to use his starters sparingly in Sunday's 30-7 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Most of the dissenters complained the Colts were hurting their momentum heading into the postseason. After all, Indianapolis had won 14 straight games to begin the year and were leading the Jets 15-10 late in the third quarter.
Caldwell, though, isn't worried about rust or the loss of any possible momentum. He's counting on Indianapolis' veteran leadership and desire to win a second Super Bowl title to set the tone during the team's practice sessions over the next two weeks.
"There's no question about it. For a number of reasons, obviously, but it's kind of like when you were young playing basketball on the court. You'd play make it, take it. But also if you won, you stayed on the court, and if you lost you were off the court. Oftentimes, the line of teams behind you was so long it may take you another three to four hours to get back out on the court," the first-year coach recently explained.
"There was always a heightened sense of, 'Hey, you have to get it done, otherwise you're off.' Well, that's what happens in the playoffs. There is a certain understanding that it is do-or-die. That in itself adds a little flavor to the preparation."
— QB Peyton Manning broke his own franchise record for completion percentage in a season, finishing the season at 68.8 percent (393-of-571). He set the previous mark of 67.6 in 2004. His 393 completions also broke his club record (392 in 2002).
— RB Joseph Addai finished the regular season with 828 yards on 219 carries, his highest rushing total since he had 1,072 yards in 2007. Addai also hauled in 51 passes this year for 336 yards, that's the most receptions of his NFL career and his second-highest yardage total (364, 2007). His 10 rushing touchdowns is his second highest (12, 2007) and his 13 total touchdowns (10 rushing, three receiving) are his most since 2007 (15, 12 rushing and three receiving).
— WR Reggie Wayne caught five passes for 21 yards against Buffalo, giving him a reception in 64 consecutive games. He ended the year with 100 receptions, but one of his catches in the Buffalo game may be reviewed (might be classified as a lateral).
— WR Pierre Garcon has been nursing a sore hand for the past three weeks. He was injured in the Colts' win at Jacksonville on Dec. 17. He is expected to be OK heading into the team's divisional playoff game next week. Garcon saw limited work in practice late last week.
— TE Dallas Clark could be in the same situation as Wayne when it comes to his total catches for the season. Clark has officially caught 100 passes, but one of his receptions against the Bills on Sunday might be changed to a lateral.
— LB Freddy Keiaho was shaken up in the second half of the Buffalo game but is expected to be OK for the team's playoff run. Keiaho was playing middle linebacker, filling in for starter Gary Brackett, when he was hurt against the Bills.
— S Jamie Silva has gotten additional playing time the last couple of weeks. Silva has been a key special teams performer this season but has also proven to be a pretty good safety. He's been backing up starter Melvin Bullitt.
— LB Cody Glenn is another backup who has opened some eyes among the Colts' coaching staff the last two weeks. Glenn has excelled on kickoff and punt coverage units this season after being picked up off waivers from the Washington Redskins. He got some work on defense against Buffalo and was credited with four tackles in the game.
— TE Jacob Tamme saw extensive playing time in the Buffalo game. Tamme was drafted last year but injuries have slowed his development. He played well during the preseason but hadn't gotten much work with the Colts' offense until the last couple of weeks.
— CB Jacob Lacey got off to a strong start this season and has settled in well as both a starter and nickel back. Lacey is a rookie undrafted free agent who caught the coaching staff's eye during OTAs and training camp. He has started six games at left cornerback and the last three games at right cornerback.
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