Colts face a big challenge with Newton, Panthers offense
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indianapolis can't seem to catch a break.
In the midst of a chaotic week with quarterback Andrew Luck searching for answers on offense and open questions about the future of coach Chuck Pagano, the Colts are preparing for an even bigger challenge: Stopping Cam Newton and Carolina's offense on Monday night.
The Colts (3-4) have looked somewhat lost lately and the unbeaten Panthers (6-0) will provide a stiff test.
Newton has totaled nine touchdown passes this season and is throwing for 212.5 yards game. He averages another 41 yards rushing and has run for four more scores.
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky plans to take a simplified approach.
''You can't go in there with a big game plan,'' Manusky said of the Colts, who have lost two straight. ''You've got to limit it and make sure that you fit up everything that you need to fit up. I think this week, just like I told the players, it comes down to communication and it comes down to doing your job and being in the right spot at the right time.''
Indy's defense has had it rough all year and behind the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton, the Panthers won't make things any easier.
For the Colts, preparing for Newton this week hasn't been simple.
''It's very, very difficult,'' Pagano said. ''It's hard. The timing, the option, the reads, it's very difficult to replicate that.''
Indy has allowed 408.6 yards per game - the most in the NFL this season - and has given up over 400 yards of total offense in each of the last five games. The Colts allow 24.9 points a game (20th in the league) and the Panthers are sixth in scoring, averaging 27.0 points.
The Colts defense has struggled with injuries on defense most of the season, too. Linebacker Robert Mathis got a late start while he recovered from a torn Achilles. Cornerbacks Darius Butler (hip) and Greg Toler (neck), and linebackers Jonathan Newsome (hamstring) and Bjoern Werner (knee) all missed stretches throughout the year.
Safety Mike Adams returned to full participation for Friday's practice after he was limited earlier in the week with a hamstring injury. Adams is tied for first in the NFL with four interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown against New England on Oct. 18.
''Right now, things aren't going our way,'' Adams said. ''Right now, the bandwagon is empty. No one's on it anymore, so we have no pressure. We've got nothing to worry about, just go out there and play.''