Colts veterans try to keep players focused to get on track
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The veterans are trying to do what they can to get the Colts' season on track.
The most experienced leaders in the locker room and on the field have been around long enough to provide some perspective and help keep their teammates, especially the younger players, focused on winning. For linebacker Robert Mathis, it's simple.
''Do your job and follow your leaders,'' the six-time Pro Bowler said. ''When you walk it vs. talk it, they'll follow you a lot sooner, so I'm not going to tell them to do anything that I wouldn't do myself. You have to do more than tell.''
It's been a struggle for the Colts (3-5) to get through the first half of the season.
The poor record is due to poor performances, and a midseason change of offensive coordinators with Tuesday's firing of Pep Hamilton has created a sense of turmoil.
Coach Chuck Pagano made the decision to make the coaching staff move less than 24 hours after Indy's 29-26 overtime loss to Carolina - the first time Indianapolis has lost three straight in 3 1/2 seasons under Pagano. Amid a report that Indy's veterans called a players-only meeting last week, there is still hope of turning things around, starting Sunday against Peyton Manning and Denver (7-0).
''We still have a shot,'' running back Frank Gore said. ''It's still a long season. But seeing that the vets are still going hard and leading, I just think (the younger players) will follow.''
The Colts got off to a 0-2 start and quarterback Andrew Luck missed games against Jacksonville and Houston with a sore right shoulder. The Colts gave up little information about the injury or details about Luck's recovery. It's still unclear if the fourth-year quarterback is completely healthy.
There were questions last week about whether Luck had been playing with broken ribs. He was limited in practice earlier this week with an ankle injury and is probable for the Broncos game.
Pagano has come under fire this season for Indy's problems on the field, which include constantly falling behind early a series of gambles, including a botched fake punt in a loss to New England. General manager Ryan Grigson has taken heat, too, for his hand in this season's woes, including Indy's underperforming offensive line.
''We just have to get on the same page in terms of focus,'' backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. ''Here's what we can focus on, here's what we can't focus on. Here's what is important, here's what is not important. Here's what we can control, and here's what we cannot control. Let's not waste our energy on what we can't control.''
Notes: Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett was ruled out for Sunday's game with an ankle injury and linebacker Nate Irving is out with a knee injury. T.Y. Hilton, who hasn't practiced all week, is listed as questionable.