New Colts players get crash course in rivalry with Patriots
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Trent Cole is getting a crash course in Indianapolis' biggest rivalry.
And he's already passed the first test.
Two days after the Colts began offseason workouts, the Colts' newest pass rusher walked into the locker room and said he understood why teammates try to avoid mentioning the Patriots by name.
''You could just tell when I first got here you just don't use that word (Patriots) around here,'' Cole said Wednesday, drawing laughter.
''From what I've seen that's happened, I see why there's a lot of hatred there. There's nothing wrong, nothing wrong with that. That's why we're here.''
But in Indianapolis, this is no joking matter.
Andrew Luck is 0-4 against Tom Brady, and the Patriots have embarrassed the Colts four straight times.
In January's AFC championship game, the Colts were drubbed 45-7.
In a 2014 divisional round game, Indy lost 43-22.
In Luck's rookie season, New England won 59-24.
And in the Colts' only home game against New England since Luck's arrival in 2012, the Patriots won 42-20 last November.
That's a combined score of 189-73.
Add the struggles of the Peyton Manning era and the mystery of deflategate to the equation, and it's understandable why the Colts are eager to turn things around Oct. 18.
''You realize if you want to do anything in the AFC, you're going to have to figure out a way to beat those guys,'' Luck said. ''It's a great team, a lot of respect for how they play. We'll work to try and put ourselves in a position to hopefully have a chance to beat them when we play them.''
The Colts spent most of their time and money this offseason trying to find a solution for the Patriots.
After signing Cole to fortify the pass rush, Indy added defensive tackle Kendall Langford and linebacker Nate Irving to plug running lanes and re-signed safety Mike Adams, who picked off Brady twice last season.
They've surrounded Luck with more weapons - running back Frank Gore and receiver Andre Johnson - and might have found some offensive line help with former Eagles offensive lineman Todd Herremans.
With nine picks in next week's draft, the Colts could find even more help.
The raging question, of course, is do they now have enough to win a Super Bowl?
''That's the ultimate goal,'' Johnson said. ''That's the reason why I'm here. I feel like this is the best place where I can be able to accomplish that.''
But the Colts' rebuilt defense has more to worry about than just Brady and the Pats.
If the Buccaneers and Titans both take quarterbacks with the top two picks next week, Indy will play 11 games against quarterbacks who were top 16 draft picks - a list that does not include two Super Bowl MVPs on the schedule, Brady and Drew Brees.
After the rematch with Brady, the Colts will face Brees, Cam Newton, Manning and Matt Ryan in successive weeks before facing Tampa Bay. It's a potentially daunting task that this team relishes.
''In order to be the best, you've got to beat the best week in and week out,'' linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. ''So we welcome the chance.''
Luck's record against the best quarterbacks should give the Colts confidence.
He is 16-10 when facing those taken in the first round, 27-13 against those taken in the first three rounds and 6-2 against former No. 1 overall picks and he's already beaten Super Bowl winners Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco and both of the Mannings.
''You certainly respect all the opponents in the NFL,'' he said. ''Bunch of great teams that we'll get to play. As excited as you are for that, I think we're more excited for that first game in Buffalo. That's where the focus is.''
But the Patriots aren't far behind, even for the newcomers to this matchup.
''There's a lot of energy here to win ballgames, to especially beat the Patriots,'' Cole said. ''Hopefully if we focus game by game and win each of the games that are going to come, we can get to the big one.''
Notes: Jackson apologized to the fans and the organization for causing an offseason distraction with his February arrest on a misdemeanor assault charge. He said that time will allow all of the facts to come out. ... Running back Vick Ballard, who has missed all but one game over the past two seasons because of injuries, says he is ready to start practicing now even though he will be held out a couple of more weeks just to be safe. ... Luck said he was in eighth grade when Johnson was drafted by Luck's hometown team, Houston. The 33-year-old Johnson said there hasn't been much teasing in the locker room yet, but he expects the Colts to ease him into it.
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