Rarely is Indianapolis Colts' interim head coach Bruce Arians so direct about injuries this early in the week. On Monday, Arians told reporters in no uncertain terms that the Colts' injury situation heading into this weeks game against the Kansas City Chiefs would not be any better.
Arians has already ruled out several players who missed last week's game at Houston. S Tom Zbikowski, C Samson Satele, LB Kavell Conner and RB Delone Carter will all remain inactive this week. Only Winston Justice, who missed last week recovering from a concussion, is open for possible duty this week.
It's also possible the list will get longer. C AQ Shipley went down near the end of the Texans' game with an apparent leg injury and S Joe Lefeged also missed most of the second half. Both Shipley and Lefeged are backups who had already been pressed into starting duties due to injury. If either or both of them are out, the Colts are going to be mighty thin along the offensive line and in the secondary.
That magnifies the importance of getting a win on Sunday. The Jets' loss Monday night, while not mathematically clinching a playoff spot for the Colts, makes it all but impossible for any other outcome, so winning or losing on Sunday won't drastically change the Colts' playoff landscape. What it can do is affect the team's mental and physical condition heading into the playoffs.
A win Sunday does guarantee the Colts a playoff spot. That would mean that the Colts could definitely rest some of their walking wounded in week 17 when Houston comes back to town. Another week off for the players mentioned above could make a big difference heading into the playoffs where all hands will be needed. It wouldn't hurt the Colts to allow Andrew Luck and some of the other players who as of yet haven't missed game time to get a little breather either. The Colts had an early bye week this year and the wear and tear on some of the younger players is beginning to show.
Psychologically, the need to win might be even greater. The Colts haven't lost back to back games yet this season. This wouldn't be the time to start. And even though Houston will come to Lucas Oil Stadium on the season's final Sunday most likely with nothing to play for, the Colts certainly don't want to back into the playoffs with three straight losses.
Cory Redding addressed that with the media on Monday:
"We don’t want to limp into the playoffs. You want to walk into the playoffs. In order to do that, we have to end on a good note, strong on the offensive side of the ball, strong on special teams and strong defensively. We have to get off to a fast start and finish faster. That’s the whole mindset.”
The best medicine for the Colts to lose their limp would be to win on Sunday against the Chiefs. Then they could stride confidently and healthily into the playoffs.
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