Colts seek to avenge beatdown by Jaguars in 2015
WATFORD, England -- The last time they played the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Indianapolis Colts suffered a 51-16 beating. Now the Colts seek redemption in London.
"They beat our butts good, they embarrassed us, so I'm sure they're confident," coach Chuck Pagano told reporters Friday following the Colts' first training session on British soil ahead of Sunday's matchup at Wembley Stadium.
View from the sidelines: NFL cheerleaders 2016.
While the Jaguars are veterans of the trans-Atlantic trip, having played in Wembley for the past three years, this will be Indianapolis' first regular-season game overseas. On their charter flight across the pond, key players got the comforts of first class, many others the relative discomfort of sleeping on three economy-class cushions.
Several players said they were feeling the challenge of the five-hour time zone switch following a training session starting around 8 a.m. Indianapolis time. All were told to sleep on the plane and stay awake in London all day, no matter what their hearts and heads might tell them.
"Right now I feel like taking a nap, but I know that's not the smartest thing to do," said defensive end Kendall Langford, who played in London during his time with the then-St. Louis Rams.
"If you talked to me about three hours ago, I'd have said I felt like death ... but I'm acclimating," said left tackle Anthony Castonzo.
While he didn't play in the Dec. 13, 2015, defeat to the Jaguars, Castonzo said the entire team remembers the embarrassment of letting the Jaguars score a touchdown on every second-half possession.
"Anytime a team beats you like that, you've got a sour taste in your mouth. You always want to come out and redeem yourself," he said.
O-LINE WOES: The left side of the Colts' offensive line looks impressive with two first-rounders in Castonzo and rookie center Ryan Kelly, and second-rounder Jack Mewhort.
But the right side remains a patchwork mystery with both would-be starters, guard Denzelle Good and tackle Joe Reitz, limited by lingering injuries. Pagano said Friday it could be a game-time decision on Good an/or Reitz playing.
While rookie swingman Joe Haeg performed ably in his first start last week at both right guard and right tackle, another potential substitute, Jon Harrison, was ruled out Wednesday after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in Indianapolis. Pagano confirmed the Colts might need to dip into their practice squad for line depth Sunday.
HEALTHIER ON D: The Colts' defense has surrendered 95 points through three games, third worst in the NFL, chiefly because of an injury-riddled secondary. That picture got worse at the start of the week with outside linebacker Trent Cole's surprise placement on injured reserve, depleting the Colts' already-thin pass-rush options.
But the two starting cornerbacks should finally be on the field together Sunday for the first time this season. Vontae Davis returned from a monthlong ankle injury in last week's 26-22 win over the San Diego Chargers. Patrick Robinson, who suffered a concussion in the Colts' Week 2 loss to the Denver Broncos, returned to full practice Wednesday and is expected to start opposite Davis.
Primary slot cornerback Darius Butler is still nursing a hamstring injury picked up in the opening day defeat to the Detroit Lions, and Pagano ruled him out of action for Wembley. Principally filling his place is veteran Antonio Cromartie.
WHO'S THE HOME TEAM? The Jaguars are officially the home team in London -- even though they had to travel 259 miles (417 kilometers) farther to reach their "home" than the visiting Colts.
Indianapolis' 3,987-mile (6,416-kilometer) journey was a mere 7 hours, 50 minutes by air, a half-hour shorter than its "home" counterparts.
GUTEN APPETIT! Andrew Luck spent much of his childhood in London and Frankfurt, Germany, where his father Oliver worked as president of NFL Europe.
While the focus Friday was on Luck's London roots, a German broadcaster couldn't resist offering him some continental hospitality -- with a surprise presentation of a plate of schnitzel.
A smiling Luck, still sweaty from practice, took the plate but told the German broadcaster: "I might have to wash my hands before I eat this." Luck said he appreciated the dish and added "vielen Dank," German for "many thanks."