Colts Back on Track in AFC South

WR Reggie Wayne (AP/Barry Gutierrez)

After a season-opening loss to AFC South rival Houston, the Indianapolis Colts are back in familiar territory. The Colts' 27-13 road win over the Denver Broncos, coupled with Houston's home loss to the Dallas Cowboys, allowed Indianapolis to move into a tie for first place in the division.

Now 2-1 for the season, the Colts are knotted with Tennessee and the Texans heading into this week's road trip to face another AFC South opponent, Jacksonville.

Indianapolis battled through injuries to several key players to win at Denver — wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez, offensive tackle Charlie Johnson, linebacker Clint Session and safety Bob Sanders did not play against the Broncos.

Whether Garcon, Johnson or Session will be ready to go against the Jaguars remains to be seen. Gonzalez and Sanders are both sidelined indefinitely.

The Colts were able to get by Denver with several rookies playing significant snaps, including wide receiver Blair White and offensive tackle Jeff Linkenbach. Both White and Linkenbach were undrafted free agents.

White moved into the receiving rotation due to Garcon's hamstring injury while Linkenbach took over at left offensive tackle due to Johnson's sore foot.

They both could play key roles this week heading into the Jacksonville game.

"I've thrown enough to (White) in OTAs and minicamp and training camp," said quarterback Peyton Manning of White's performance against the Broncos.

Manning is hopeful that the Indianapolis offensive line, which has been hit by several injuries during training camp, the preseason and, now, the regular season, can continue to develop some cohesiveness.

"You just don't jell in one game or two games," the Colts signal caller said. "We're going to keep fighting on that."

In looking ahead to this week's game at Jacksonville, Coach Jim Caldwell likes the way his team is currently playing. Particularly when it comes to protecting the football as well as coming up with turnovers.

"That's been huge for us. Anytime that we can stay on the positive side of the turnover margin, that's going to give us a great chance to win. Especially on the road. That's extremely important," Caldwell said.

"Our guys have done a good job of protecting the ball. And defensively, we've done a good job of taking it away."

Linebacker Gary Brackett thinks that the Colts are beginning to hit their stride.

"Absolutely. Of course, there's always room for improvement but I'd rather be improved at 2-1 rather than 1-2," Brackett said.

TRENDING: After rushing the football 43 times for 161 yards in a home win over the New York Giants, the Colts went back to their passing attack in the Denver game. QB Peyton Manning had 57 pass attempts in the season-opening road loss at Houston and added 43 pass attempts against the Broncos. RB Joseph Addai, who had 92 yards rushing against the Giants, had 29 yards in 12 carries in the Denver game.

LINEUP WATCH: Undrafted rookie WR Blair White was signed from the practice squad when injured WR Pierre Garcon (hamstring) did not make the trip to Denver. White made his first NFL catch in the second quarter. He later registered his first NFL touchdown catch in the third quarter. The former Michigan State receiver caught three passes for 27 yards against the Broncos.


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