Colts' running is 'dangerous'

Low numbers don't mean that much, Harbaugh warns

  • Colts running back Joseph Addai has 126 carries for 440 yards and six touchdowns — and linebacker Ray LewisÂ’ respect.
Colts running back Joseph Addai has 126 carries for 440 yards… (Getty Images )
November 20, 2009|By Edward Lee |

The Indianapolis Colts bring the NFL's top-ranked passing attack to M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday. Their running game isn't nearly as vaunted.

The Colts rank 29th in the league, averaging just 86 yards on the ground. But the offense has scored rushing touchdowns on eight of 19 red-zone opportunities and six out of 11 goal-to-go situations.

"Their running game is not to be taken lightly," Ravens coach John Harbaugh warned. "Their running game is much more dangerous because they know when to use it. And their running game hurts people. So you start spreading out coverages too much, the next thing you know [ Peyton Manning] gets them in the right run against the right front and gashes people. They have really good running backs."

Indianapolis starts Joseph Addai (126 carries for 440 yards and six touchdowns) but has rotated in rookie Donald Brown (50-226, two touchdowns) and second-year player Chad Simpson from Morgan State (13-82, one touchdown).

Linebacker Ray Lewis said Addai will get most of the defense's attention.

"He's a first-class guy," Lewis said. "He's very good with the football in his hands. I think Brown is a good changeup for them. He is a little lighter, has little more speed and things like that. Durability-wise, I think Joseph Addai is still their guy. Brown just gives him a nice changeup."

The Colts will continue to lean on Manning, wide receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark to produce, but they need production from the running attack to keep the Ravens' defense from keying on the pass.

"Some weeks, we've been able to run it and run it pretty well, but then there have been other times when we fell short of what we'd like to accomplish," Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell said. "That's an area that we try to emphasize every week and stress the importance of it. There's that old coaching axiom that you achieve what you emphasize. We try to emphasize that, and hopefully we'll continue to get better."

Suggs: I'll be back
Speaking for the first time since getting hurt, linebacker-defensive end Terrell Suggs said the sprained ligament in his right knee isn't a season-ending injury. In fact, Suggs said he is aiming for the Nov. 29 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"There is no doubt in my mind that I should be back this year," he said. "That's the plan. That's where I'm at with it."

Suggs was injured in Monday's 16-0 win at Cleveland when Browns quarterback Brady Quinn hit Suggs' knee during an interception return.

The three-time Pro Bowl player said he hasn't seen the hit on tape but that players have told him that it was a dirty one.

"That's exactly what it felt like," he said. "But I haven't seen it, so I can't really say one way or another. I'm more upset that I'm going to miss this game. I've got to get back for that rivalry."

Heap up in the air
It's unclear whether tight end Todd Heap (chest), who missed his second consecutive day of practice, will play Sunday. But offensive coordinator Cam Cameron expressed confidence in L.J. Smith.

"His lack of plays has been tied into the way other guys have been playing," Cameron said. "If Todd is not full speed or we need to spell him in there a little bit, we've got tremendous confidence in him."

In other injury news, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (sprained right ankle) was limited for the second straight day. Center Matt Birk, who did not practice Wednesday because of a neck injury, fully participated Thursday. Joining him were linebackers Jarret Johnson (left shoulder) and Tavares Gooden (concussion) and quarterback Joe Flacco (knee).

Colts' secondary concerns
With cornerback Kelvin Hayden (knee) and free safety Antoine Bethea (foot) missing their second consecutive day of practice and strong safety Bob Sanders (torn left biceps) and cornerback Marlin Jackson (torn left anterior cruciate ligament) on injured reserve, the Colts might play Sunday without their entire starting secondary.

Indianapolis, which surrendered 375 passing yards and three touchdowns to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Sunday and dropped from ninth to 14th against the pass in the NFL, would seem to be a ripe opponent for the Ravens. But the offense hasn't gained more than 168 yards through the air in its past three games, and the Colts' cover-2 scheme can help rookie cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey.

"They're not just putting those guys out in cover-1 and man-to-man coverage and single coverage all day," Cameron said. "That's not happening. If that were the case, you'd say, 'OK, we can throw at the two young corners all day.' But they're not doing that. They're smart. You've got to attack this defense with all 11 guys."

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