Colts GM Ballard to evaluate roster in final four games

INDIANAPOLIS — While the INDIANApolis Colts head into this week’s
game at Buffalo with a 3-9 record and a three-game losing streak,
first-year general manager Chris Ballard is using the Bills game
and the three games after that to continue his evaluation of the
franchise.

That evaluation includes both the players on the roster as well as
the coaching staff.

All will be under Ballard’s watchful eye.

“You still want to look for improvement,” the Colts general manager
said during an interview this week with an Indianapolis radio
station. “I mean, you’re still building. Every game is an
opportunity.

“It’s not good that we’re not in the playoff hunt. But saying that,
you’ve still got chances to get better.”

“You know, players have a chance to get better. Coaches have
chances to get better. We as a personnel staff have a chance to get
better. And it’s a chance for us to continue to evaluate players
going forward. It’s important because you only get 16 opportunities
during the year to play live games. And they are important
opportunities and evaluations for us to see our players against
good competition and see how they’re growing and if they’re getting
better.”

Ballard admitted that he is taking a wait-and-see attitude when it
comes to what areas he wants to Improve on heading into the 2018
season.

“I think we’ve got to get through the rest of this season. You
don’t ever want to make quick judgments. You want the whole season
to play out. So we’ll let the whole season play out and then we’ll
sit down with our coaching staff and we’ll have a very direct,
candid conversation about each player on the roster and where we’re
going and if the player fits in for us to have a chance to win a
Super Bowl,” he explained.

“You’ve got to have some honest, hard conversations about
everything you’re doing and where you’re going. And when the season
is up, we’ll have evaluations.”

Ballard admits that the 2017 season hasn’t exactly gone the way he
had envisioned during training camp.

“You can talk all you want about what you want it to look like. The
proof’s in the pudding and what the product (is) we put on the
field. And we’re going to get there,” he said.

“There’s no magic wand. There’s not. You have to continue to
develop players. You have to continue to work to get this thing
right. And that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

SERIES HISTORY: 69th regular-season meeting. Bills lead series,
36-31-1. Indianapolis, however, has posted wins in eight of the
previous 11 meetings. The Colts’ last regular-season win in the
series occurred on Nov. 25, 2012 (20-13). Buffalo won the last
matchup, taking a 27-14 home decision on Sept. 13, 2015.
Indianapolis has an 18-14-1 home record against the Bills but are
13-22 on the road. Since the Colts moved to the AFC South, the two
franchises have faced off five times, with Indianapolis winning
three of those meetings. The Colts, however, have been outscored
57-21 in their two losses to Buffalo.

–Head coach Chuck Pagano says that his defensive coaching staff
will be doing their due diligence when it comes to preparing for
Sunday’s game with the Bills.

“We’ll prepare for Tyrod Taylor (at quarterback). We’ve been down
this road before,” Pagano said, but added that the Colts will
formulate a contingency plan in case backup Nate Peterman plays.

–As for the offensive coaching staff, they will be looking for
continued improvement from their own quarterback.

“Continue to grow with the playbook. Eliminate turnovers. Make
great decisions. Completion percentage. Get the ball out. Those
things are starting to slow down,” Pagano said as he discussed
Jacoby Brissett’s development this season.

Brissett needs one touchdown pass of 60 or more yards to tie Johnny
Unitas for the franchise record of most such passes in one season.
Unitas had five in 1960.

–While it appears as if Indianapolis has been mathematically
eliminated from the AFC playoff scenario, there is still a
minuscule chance.

Here are the unlikely things that have to happen for the Colts to
get into the postseason: Win their last four games; Baltimore loses
its last four; Buffalo goes 1-3; Miami and the Jets lose at least
two; Cincinnati goes 1-3; Kansas City, Oakland or the Chargers have
to go 1-3; and Kansas City, Oakland or the Chargers have to go 0-4.

–While the Indianapolis defense has struggled this year and goes
into this week’s game at Buffalo with the 29th-ranked defense
overall, there has been a silver lining. Indianapolis is ranked
13th in rushing yards allowed per game (108.4) and 11th in rushing
yards allowed per play (3.92).

For the first time since 1971-72, Indianapolis has gone five
straight games without allowing 100 total yards rushing in a game.

–Running back Frank Gore has a rather simple goal for the Colts to
achieve over the final four weeks of the regular season.

“Win. Just want to win. Try to finish strong as a team and see
where it goes,” Gore said. “For me, I’ll see what I want to do
after the season. Evaluate my body, see how my body is feeling and
then go from there.

“I want to finish strong. I want to finish strong with my
teammates. I also want to go out there and try to get the
opportunity to try my best to reach 1,000 (rushing) yards. I feel
like I’ve got a chance.”

Gore currently has 632 yards, so to added 368 yards in the final
four games he will have to average 92 per game.

–Outside linebacker John Simon was placed on the team’s injured
reserve list with a right shoulder injury. He was hurt trying to
make a tackle Sunday against Jacksonville. Simon had a stinger
issue last month that forced him to miss three games. He returned
to start against Tennessee and the Jaguars the last two weeks.

NOTES: C Mike Person (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Person
started at center last week at Jacksonville. He is expected to
return Thursday or Friday. His status for the Buffalo game won’t be
known until after the Friday workout. … DT Johnathan Hankins
(chest) sat out Wednesday’s practice session. Hankins is expected
to be available to start against the Bills on Sunday, but a final
decision will be made Friday or Saturday. … C Ryan Kelly
(concussion) had limited practice Wednesday. Kelly wore a red
non-contact jersey during the workout, which head coach Chuck
Pagano said was unique for an offensive lineman. Kelly remains in
the league’s concussion protocol. Team officials hope he is cleared
by the end of the week. … CB Rashaan Melvin (hand) did not
participate in Wednesday’s workout. Melvin was hurt against
Tennessee two weeks ago and did not play at Jacksonville last
Sunday. His status for this week’s game at Buffalo remains
undecided. … DT Hassan Ridgeway (shoulder) saw limited work
during Wednesday’s practice session. Ridgeway has missed the last
two games. He remains listed as week-to-week. His chances of
playing Sunday at Buffalo will depend on how he does physically in
practice this week. … TE Darrell Daniels (hamstring) was held out
of practice Wednesday. Daniels has been rehabbing his hamstring
issue for the previous two weeks. His availability for the Buffalo
game is undetermined. … WR Donte Moncrief (ankle) was in a
walking boot Monday and did not practice Wednesday. He is listed as
day-to-day. Moncrief was hurt in the final minutes of last week’s
loss at Jacksonville.

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