INDIANAPOLIS — - The Indianapolis Colts' Chad Simpson is aware that any fan base he developed in Baltimore by playing at Morgan State could dissipate if he returns a kick for a touchdown against the Ravens in the AFC divisional playoff game Saturday night.
"That's just the way it is," Simpson said almost half-apologetically Tuesday before practice at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. "I'm sorry if I do, but we've got goals here. This is my new family now."
Simpson, 5 feet 9 and 216 pounds, has been the team's primary kick returner, averaging 23.6 yards and taking one back 93 yards for a touchdown in a 35-31 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 17.
There is some question, however, whether Simpson, who has also been a reserve tailback, will field kickoffs Saturday night. Wide receiver Sam Giguere averaged 24.4 yards on five kick returns in Indianapolis' regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills, and Colts coach Jim Caldwell acknowledged that there is some consideration of splitting the duty.
"It's a possibility," Caldwell said. "Sam did a nice job, I think. He's a guy who can run. We're constantly, obviously, looking to improve ourselves. But Chad has done a real fine job. But no question about it, I think Sam certainly caught our eye."
If Simpson does play, he and the rest of the special teams will have to solve a Ravens coverage unit that ranked fourth in the NFL in opponents' kick-return average (20.3) during the regular season. The Ravens' opponents' average start on kickoffs was almost the 27-yard line, which was the second-lowest in the league behind the Dallas Cowboys' 26.1 average start.
Simpson, however, didn't sound too worried, pointing out that he returned a kickoff 34 yards in the fourth quarter of the teams' first meeting Nov. 22.
"They're a little over-aggressive," Simpson said of the Ravens. "That's what works to our advantage. If you're too over-aggressive, it's going to open up holes."
Don't forget the run
As prolific as the Indianapolis offense has been through the air, the run game has largely been forgotten.
The Colts averaged 80.9 yards on the ground, last in the NFL in that category. But Indianapolis is tied with the Arizona Cardinals for 12th in the league with 16 rushing touchdowns.
"Our running game certainly has not put up the kinds of numbers that we would anticipate and would hope, but all in all, we've been efficient runners, I think," Caldwell said. "We've run the ball when we've had to. I think Joe [Addai] has been a real efficient runner and [Donald] Brown, when he's been up, has been efficient as well. Not gaudy numbers; 31st or 32nd in the league, that's not that impressive. But when you look at the body of work, you might be able to see that we do run it in some stages pretty well."
Over the past three weeks, much has been made about Indianapolis' decision to bench its starters in the last two regular-season games, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
'sidea to offer incentives to teams to keep playing their starters after their playoff position is secure and Wes Welker
'sseason-ending left knee injury in the New England Patriots' regular-season finale.
But amid all the furor, the Colts said they won't get involved in those types of discussions.
"I'll be honest, I dropped it on the following Monday," center Jeff Saturday said, referring to the Colts' 29-15 loss to the New York Jets on Dec. 27. "There's nothing you can do about it. We've moved on as a team, and we've got to get to serious business. Whatever happened two weeks ago is not going to affect the outcome of Saturday night, I can assure you. Both teams are going to have to show up, be effective and do what their game plan calls for. So whatever happened in that, I think all of that for us has been carried on by the media. I don't think any player has been concerned with it. We've moved on and tried to get better as a team."