The Indianapolis Colts came away Sunday's win over Denver with a 4-0 record -- it's the third straight season that the franchise has accomplished that feat -- but a rash of injuries to key players figure to have an impact on what happens against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Addai might be the least of the Colts' worries, since he might have been able to come back into the Broncos game in the fourth quarter had he been needed. Strong performances by several backups, such as running back Kenton Keith, allowed Indianapolis to come away with its 11th straight win (dating back to last season) and its 11th consecutive victory in the month of September.
But now, the focus is on an improving Tampa Bay team that is coming off a big NFC South win over Carolina last week.
"I think every offseason, we have put the previous season behind us. I mean it is a testament to the way coach (Tony) Dungy's schedule has set up. It is a real credit to him that our team has come out and played so well early in the season," said quarterback Peyton Manning.
"Obviously, the key is to keep it going. (Dungy) talks about the season in quarters. This was kind of the first quarter, so it sure was a good one."
The Colts head into the Buccaneers game with a solid hold of first place in the AFC South, with a road game at Jacksonville just a few weeks away. Division teams have played well against the rest of the league, which doesn't shock Manning.
"I think it's probably a surprise to a lot of people outside the division, just how good our division is, it just means that every game is important for us. We're happy that we've gotten the lead, but we need to keep winning and try to stay ahead because if you mess up one time, they're going to be right there to catch you. It's a competitive division. We knew that coming into the season, and it's certainly proven to be true," he said.
Rob Morris had to be carted off the field
AP Photo/Darron Cummings
"I think everybody kind of has that pride in their division, that you feel like the teams you play twice a year are better than other teams. You probably hope it's not going to be going into the season. It's early to say. There are some good teams out there. Injuries always come into play. But it's certainly off to a difficult, competitive start for the teams in the AFC South."
Manning says, however, that good preparation remains the key for the Colts' success.
"Guys have done a good job of preparing each week, getting ready for each opponent. We truly take them one game at a time around here," he said. "You never take winning for granted. Wins are hard to come by. The (win over Denver) was a good win against a good football team."
--WR Marvin Harrison left the game midway in the second quarter after suffering a bruised left knee. Harrison was injured with 1:34 left in the first quarter when he got caught in a pile on a run by Joseph Addai and was rolled up on by Denver LB D.J. Williams. He missed one play and came back for the rest of that series. He did not return on the Colts' next offensive possession. His status for the Tampa Bay game won't be updated until later this week.
--LB Rob Morris suffered a strained left knee with 0:37 left in the second quarter. Morris left the field with his knee braced and in the back of a golf cart. He was replaced on the strong side by backup Rocky Boiman for the remainder of the game. Morris had started the game after sitting out the last two weeks with a strained abdominal muscle. It won't be known until later in the week if he will be able to play against the Buccaneers on Sunday.
--S Bob Sanders did not play the second half of the Denver game after suffering a rib injury late in the second quarter. His status for the Tampa Bay game won't be known until later in the week.
--RB Joseph Addai, who had a game-high 136 yards rushing in 19 carries, left the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury. According to Colts coach Tony Dungy, Addai could have come back in the game but the team opted to hold him out the rest of the way as a precautionary measure. His availability for the Tampa Bay game won't be determined until later this week.
--TE Dallas Clark started against the Broncos. Clark had missed practice last Friday with a sprained knee. He had a game-high six catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns, lining up at tight end, wide receiver and slot receiver.
--CB Marlin Jackson started against Denver. Jackson had seen limited practice last week with a strained quadriceps muscle. He recorded his first interception of the season, picking off Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler in the third quarter.
--RB Kenton Keith got his first extensive amount of playing time against Denver, rushing for an NFL career-high 80 yards in 10 carries. Most of those yards came in the fourth quarter as he was subbing for an injured Joseph Addai.