Behind Enemy Lines: Indianapolis Colts

JagNation goes Behind Enemy Lines with Colts publisher and NFL Expert Ed Thompson.

1. First and foremost, everyone in Jacksonville is curious about the health of Harrison, Addai, and Sanders. How serious are their injuries, and will they be 100% for the game Monday night?

Harrison's knee is still tenuous, but he saw some practice time on Thursday. Both Addai (shoulder) and Sanders (chest) are fine and got a full practice in on Thursday. All three are expected to play.

2. Do you think the Colts will be able to match the Jaguars intensity being that the Colts play on prime time at least half a dozen times each year, and have been on the big stage so much in the last five years? Basically, this is just another game for Indianapolis, where it's so much more for Jacksonville.

I think you'll see more noticeable intensity and emotion from the defense than the offense. They are really flying to the ball and swarming -- and they get fired up when they do. But the offense reflects Manning's personality -- focused and determined more than what you would call "intense." The offense is a very cool, methodical bunch.

3. The Colts offensive machine hasn't seemed to miss a beat this season, despite the loss of Tarik Glenn. Is there much, or any dropoff in play from Tony Ugoh?

Ugoh is doing very well, but he is a rookie. I've seen him get pushed into the backfield at times, but he holds good position against the defender. On pass plays you'll often see a tight end on his side or the running back will flank that side of Manning as a safety valve. But Ugoh has done well against some good players this season such as New Orleans' Will Smith and Denver's Simeon Rice. His mechanics are sound and he's got good footwork and strength. He just needs to keep adjusting to the speed and skill level and he'll be Indy's left tackle for many years to come.

4. Indianapolis defense is obviously built to play with the lead, with the undersized, fast pass rushers on the outside, and the ball-hawking secondary. Will they be able to hang if they don't get an early advantage?

I think so. They've actually gotten off to some slow starts this year, scoring just 70 points in the first half versus 94 points in the second half. They seem to play a bit of a chess match early in the game sizing up their opponents. Out of their five games, at halftime they led by just four points or less in the three of the games. Last week they had a nine-point lead against the Bucs at halftime, and in Week 2 they had a 10-point lead over Tennessee. Ironically, that Tennessee game is the only one that they didn't win by at least 14 points. They beat the Titans by just two points, 22-20. The defense has really been a nice surprise against the run, they've forced some decent running teams to be fairly one-dimensional, something that was rarely seen last year.

5. It seems as if the Colts defense is great at taking away anything deep, and forcing teams to methodically go down the field in small increments, and most teams lose patience and that's when turnovers are forced. The Jaguars offense is one of those that go down the field in small increments, basically taking what opposing defenses give them. Do you think the Colts defense will take more chances, and possibly "dare" a Jaguars offense without many deep threats to throw the ball downfield?

I think you will see them with eight in the box early, but it will be more to try to stop the Jaguars' running attack than to dare them to throw deep. In one game earlier this year, Bob Sanders spent a good portion of the first half right among the linebackers to slow the opponent's running game -- and it worked. The Colts definitely will let their opponents dink their way down the field, figuring that most times a penalty or turnover will play to their advantage. So from that perspective, Jacksonville would be wise to just work within those parameters and be patient.

6. It seems as if most teams are picking their poison against the Indianapolis offense by dropping extra men in coverage not to get beat deep, and Peyton Manning is checking off to runs, and thus Joseph Addai is having a monster year. Will Addai have that familiar success against a front seven that's as solid as Jacksonville's?

Jacksonville will be a huge test for Addai, probably the best he's faced yet this season. But the Colts offensive line is playing really well and Addai looks much quicker than last year. You can tell the game has really slowed down for him as he's hitting holes with amazing quickness. The first quarter of this game is going to be very interesting because unless the Colts feel strongly that they can exploit the Jacksonville safeties, I expect both teams to pound the ball on the ground and test those opposing defenses repeatedly to see if they can get the upper hand in that important aspect of this game.



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