Jacksonville at Indianapolis Game Preview

Breakdown preview of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts battle in week-three of the NFL season.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) at Indianapolis Colts (2-0)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
SURFACE: AstroTurf
TV: CBS, Don Criqui, Steve Tasker
SERIES: 5th meeting. The Colts lead the series 4-0, including both games last year (a 28-25 win at Jacksonville and 20-13 victory at the RCA Dome). Indianapolis' 4-0 series edge is the biggest involving the Jaguars. Perhaps the biggest win for the Colts in the series came on September 25, 2000 with the Colts posting a 43-14 on a Monday Night telecast. Quarterback Peyton Manning completed 23-of-36 passes for 440 yards and four touchdowns in what is his third-best rated game of his career (143.3).
2003 RANKINGS: Jaguars: offense 19th (21st rush, 12th pass); defense 17th (13th rush, 22nd pass). Colts: offense 23rd (17th rush, 23rd pass); defense 7th (8th rush, 10th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jaguars can't afford a big early deficit that takes RB Fred Taylor out of the offense. If they can get him involved early, the offense can stay balanced. However, the offensive line won't be under as much pressure with Colts DE Dwight Freeney expected to miss the game with ankle and abdominal injuries. Indianapolis hasn't moved the ball consistently so far, but was much more balanced with RB Edgerrin James a force last Sunday. QB Peyton Manning has one of the best play-action fakes in the game, and a strong performance from James would make that important part of the Colts' offense that much more effective.

FAST FACTS: Jaguars: The offense has scored a touchdown in all three red-zone possessions this season. ... QB Mark Brunell has a 100.8 passer rating in three career games against Indianapolis. Colts: The team is 4-0 against the Jaguars. ... Tony Dungy's teams are 53-14 (.791) when scoring at least 17 points.


PREDICTED SCORE: Colts 27-17

PERSONNEL NEWS
Jaguars:
   --LB Keith Mitchell is out with a neck injury.
   --CB Kiwaukee Thomas is out with a groin injury.
   --DB James Trapp practiced the last two days and is listed as probable. Coach Jack Del Rio said that "unless something drastic happens," he'll play after missing the first two games. He's likely to be the nickel back and will fill the gap created by Thomas' injury.
   --WR Micah Ross is doubtful with an ankle injury. He hasn't practiced and probably won't play.
   --LB Eric Westmoreland is questionable with a knee injury. Coach Jack Del Rio said he "did a little" Thursday and won't rule him out but he probably won't play.
   --LB Danny Clark will probably start with Keith Mitchell sidelined and coach Jack Del Rio said he's "one of the guys who has to step it up."

Colts:
   --WR Brad Pyatt appears to have won the Colts' regular punt and kickoff return duties. Pyatt went into the regular season set to share the job with WR Troy Walters, but his performance the first two weeks of the season has convinced the coaching staff that he can handle the work.
   --DE Raheem Brock will start his third consecutive game on the left side this week. While DE Brad Scioli continues to be listed as the starter on the depth chart, Brock has apparently won the job.
   --RB Ricky Williams' workload is expected to be increased a bit in the coming weeks. Williams is currently the Colts' number two running back behind starter Edgerrin James.
   --WR Brandon Stokley will miss his third consecutive regular season game this week. Stokley has a pulled hamstring, which has limited his ability to practice.
   --C Jeff Saturday continues to suffer back spasms and was unable to practice on Wednesday. Although he is expected to start Sunday's game with Jacksonville, he is being limited to just one practice per week at least until the Colts' bye week.
   --CB Walt Harris has battled tendonitis since training camp and has been limited in what he can do during practice. Harris, however, will start against the Jaguars.
   --CB Nick Harper has had a sprained knee since the latter stages of the preseason. Harper, who leads the Colts with three interceptions, has also been experiencing some soreness in his back. Neither injury is expected to keep him from starting Sunday's game.
   --CB Donald Strickland's immediate future remains sketchy. Strickland has been out with a groin injury since the last day of the team's pre-training camp rookie orientation workouts.
   --CB Joseph Jefferson remains sidelined until he recovers from surgery to repair what was diagnosed as an irritated groin. Jefferson had the surgery three weeks ago. The injury has been compared to a hernia.
   --RB Dominic Rhodes has been practicing for the past three weeks but has yet to receive the okay to return to a more active role with the Colts. Rhodes had knee surgery at the end of the Colts' 2002 training camp and the recovery process has been a bit slower than expected.
   --FS Idrees Bashir has played the first two games despite some soreness in his knee. Bashir suffered a knee sprain in the next-to-last pre-season game at Denver.
   --FS Jason Doering will play Sunday despite incurring an injured finger last Sunday against Tennessee.
   --CB David Macklin tweaked his ankle in the Titans game but will be available to play against Jacksonville this week.
   --WR Aaron Moorehead suffered a sprained ankle in practice on Wednesday. Moorehead will be able to play Sunday.

INSIDE THE CAMPS

Jaguars:
   The Jaguars may have finally put last Sunday's lopsided loss to Buffalo behind them.
   After still appearing to be in a funk at Wednesday's practice, they improved Thursday as they prepared for the Indianapolis game Sunday. They pumped in noise at the practice because they're playing in a dome in Indianapolis.
   "I think today was much better. We had a little bounce in our step. I thought the energy was good. I thought the focus was good. We cleaned up some of the things from yesterday's practice. The kind of practice we have to have. I thought it was very good," coach Jack Del Rio said.
   He said Wednesday the team had to improve its intangibles.
   "If there's one thing I'd like to see more is those intangibles. It's kind of difficult to measure, but I'd like to see more of (at) meetings (and) practices, the urgency and taking care of business," he said.
   He also said he wanted more leadership.
   "As a coach, I recognize on Sunday I'm going to stand behind that white line and watch our team perform. I think it's important the players carry the torch, so to speak. In the locker room. On the field. In the community. I think it's important we get leadership that embraces the message that the staff is bringing," he said.
   He mentioned Brad Meester and Chris Naeole as two offensive linemen who've "stepped forward."
   He added, "I'm looking for more of that."

Colts:
   Will Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney start Sunday's home game with Jacksonville or is he going to be sidelined for one or more games?
   As it stands now, Freeney will be unavailable to play against the Jaguars due to ankle and unspecified abdominal injuries. And, according to Colts coach Tony Dungy, he may also miss multiple games as well.
   "It doesn't look like anything that's going to heal right away," Dungy says. "As far as how long it's going to be, we really don't know. But probably more than a week."
   The second-year defensive lineman, who had a team-record 13 quarterback sacks as a rookie, sprained his ankle last week against Tennessee and has been wearing a walking boot for the past few days.
   Freeney had an MRI on the ankle Monday and the results were encouraging. But Dungy said the injury hasn't gotten much better.
   Chad Bratzke is slated to start at right defensive end in Freeney's absence, while rookie Robert Mathis -- who has spent most of his time on the left-side -- will also see extended playing time. Bratzke was the Colts' regular right defensive end before Freeney was drafted last year.
   "Chad will start at right end and get a little more playing time," the Colts coach said. "We've still got guys that we can work over there. Robert will play a little bit more on the right side than he has. We should be fine."


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