Game Scout: Colts at Jaguars
QB Peyton Manning (AP/Darron Cummings)
QB Peyton Manning (AP/Darron Cummings)

Posted Oct 3, 2010


Get the info you need before kickoff for the AFC South battle between the Jaguars and Colts in this feature from The SportsXchange.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Natural Grass
TV: CBS, Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Discuss it: Click here
Twitter: @ColtPower

PREDICTION: Colts 31-20

KEYS TO THE GAME: Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew averaged 4.3 yards per carry in two meetings last year, and if Jacksonville keeps the game close it has the ability to overpower the Colts' undersized front seven. But if the Colts build a lead, QB David Garrard is coming off consecutive terrible games and OTs Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton were abused by the Eagles last weekend. On paper, the Colts' deep receiving corps appears to be a serious mismatch for the Jaguars, who are struggling to find a viable starter opposite CB Rashean Mathis. But the past five meetings have been decided by a combined 18 points and there are few secrets between these rivals.

FAST FACTS: The Colts are 7-2 all-time in Jacksonville. ... Jones-Drew is averaging 101.3 rushing yards in the past four meetings. Jones-Drew doesn't have a touchdown this season. He had four in the first three games in 2009, when he scored 15 rushing TDs. ... QB Peyton Manning threw four TD passes and was 23-of-30 for 308 yards at Jacksonville in 2009. He put up three TD passes and threw for 364 at Jacksonville in '08. ... Colts WR Reggie Wayne had 15 catches for 294 yards and two touchdowns in two games vs. Jacksonville in 2009. His two longest catches of last season (39 and 65 yards) were against the Jaguars.

INSIDE THE CAMPS
Colts:

A work in progress.

That seems to be about where the Indianapolis Colts are right now. Yes, the Colts have a 2-1 record heading into Sunday's AFC South matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And, yes, Indianapolis is on a two-game winning streak after starting the regular season with a 10-point road loss to division rival Houston.

About the only constants for the Colts three weeks into the regular season, though, have been the play of quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Austin Collie.

Manning is the NFL's top-rated passer with a 116.9 mark and leads the league in touchdown passes with nine. He also is one of three quarterbacks (Michael Vick and Mark Sanchez are the others) who have yet to throw an interception this season.

Collie, meanwhile, is the NFL's leading receiver with 27 catches through three games. He also tops the league in receiving yardage (359) and is tied for the lead in touchdown catches (four, along with San Diego tight end Antonio Gates).

It's safe to say, however, that Indianapolis is still trying to find some level of consistency on both sides of the football.

The offensive line has yet to play a game this season with all of its regulars healthy and together all at one time.

And the Colts' running game, ranked 25th in the league, has only displayed brief flashes of what it can do (160 yards in the win over the New York Giants as compared to 44 yards against the Texans and 40 at Denver last Sunday).

Two key receivers — Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon — have been sidelined by injuries early in the year, which has slowed the vaunted Colts passing games in crucial situations.

Garcon (hamstring) should be back in the lineup before Gonzalez, who is recovering from a high ankle sprain.

Defensively, Indianapolis has been gashed on the ground by Houston (257 yards, resulting in a loss) and has been torched through the air (472 yards allowed in last week's win over Denver).

The same pass rush that looked imposing in a Sunday night win over the Giants was nearly non-existent a week later against the Broncos.

And there has been a revolving door at weak side linebacker due to injuries suffered by veteran starter Clint Session (hamstring) and rookie Kavell Conner (foot).

Still, despite the ups and downs that the team has gone through so far, the Colts have a chance this weekend to make a statement against a Jaguars team that has had its own problems through the first three games of the year.

"We're still kind of finding our identity a little bit with the personnel and what we're going to hang our hat on every single week," Manning said earlier this week.

"Like I said, from the Giants game to the Denver game, you look at our running game, you have to call it a little bit inconsistent. We're looking for a little more consistency as far as who we are going to be each Sunday as opposed to figuring it out, 'Hey, this week we're going to have to be a throwing team, this week we'll be a running team.' We'd like to be the same team every single Sunday. We're still looking for that balance, and hopefully we can back to a little more of that this week."

For a franchise that has won 10 or more games in eight of the last nine seasons, and 12 or more games six out of the last nine seasons, the Colts are still trying to hit their stride this year.

"It's still so game-to-game, every game kind of takes on its own identity. The Houston game was a lot more throwing than we wanted, playing from behind. The Giants game, the run game was so efficient that it opened up things in the passing game. Denver, the running game kind of struggled and it was kind of tough early," Manning said.

"Denver kind of gave us a chance for some big plays. Denver did a pretty good job of taking the underneath short stuff away. Already, it's been three different personality games, and you never know what to expect in Week 4."

Jaguars:

The Jaguars figured they upgraded their return game in the draft.

They drafted Deji Karim and Scotty McGee with their final two draft picks this year to add a new dimension to their punt and kick return games.

Injuries, though, changed all their plans and neither player has been on the field this year.

Magee went on the injured reserve list after the first two games, and Kareem missed the first three games with a thumb injury.

Now that Karim is off the injury list, he can play with what special teams coach Russ Purnell calls a "new contraption" protecting his thumb that allows him to catch the ball.

But Purnell isn't certain whether Karim will get a chance to play against the Indianapolis Colts.

"He did well in practice last week and he's doing even better in practice this week. Whether he dresses or not, that will be a decision made down the road. If we bring Deji up and make him active, somebody has got to sit. That's the numbers part of it. What position does it come at?"

In Karim's absence, Tiquan Underwood has been filling in, and he's averaging 24.5 yards a return with a long one of 53 yards.

"Tiquan has done a good job. He's had some real good returns. There's a couple of things we can always do better, we can block better for him, but we're certainly happy with what he's provided us," Purnell said.

Mike Thomas is handling the punt return duties in place of McGee and is averaging 11 yards a return.


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