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Colts coach Jim Caldwell said his team remains focused despite its winless record.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Colts coach Jim Caldwell and center Jeff Saturday conducted conference calls with the New England media Wednesday. Here's a handful of the highlights from the Indy perspective on Sunday's game:
1. An appreciation for winning: Saturday was asked if he gained a greater appreciation for quarterback Peyton Manning this season and said an 0-11 start made him appreciate the success of the team as a whole. "It definitely makes me appreciate winning more," he said. "Peyton, obviously, you can’t respect a player more than I respect him anyway. I’ve been with the guy 13 years, I know how hard he works, I know what a good player he is, how valuable he is to our football team. On top of all that, to see a player face this type of injury, this isn’t something you get over in a week or two -- this has been a major process. Any time you’re watching a player go through something as substantial as this your heart goes out for him."
2. Colts focused despite record: Given the team's struggles this season, it'd be easy for the Colts to tune out. But Caldwell said that hasn't been a problem: "I think our guys have been pretty focused throughout the year -- that has not been the issue for us. It’s just been an issue for us getting over the hump and getting that one victory that we need to get started. But I think our guys have been focused. Our practices have been good, like they typically are. We just haven’t played well consistently all across the board and that’s what we have to continue to work towards."
3. Potential for Manning to return this season?: Caldwell confirmed Manning was scheduled for an exam Wednesday and the team would determine where to go with him from there. Could he be back on the field before season's end? "I’m not even going to discuss that because it’s not even something at this particular point that we know is going to happen or not going to happen," said Caldwell. "We don’t know. That’s what the evaluation is for. That’s what the doctors have been monitoring and what we have to do is we have to play with who we have right now in terms of focusing in on this next game coming up. There are other things in terms of speculation and all that, you know forecasting the future. We try to deal with a bit more definitive things." Saturday expressed optimism that Manning could be back: "I sure hope so. I’ve told people, people that ask me over and over, ‘If he’s healthy enough, he’ll be on the field, I can guarantee that.’"
4. Saturday reflects on Kraft's lockout squeeze: The crystalized moment from the end of the NFL lockout was Saturday's bear-hug to Patriots owner Robert Kraft. He reflected on it Wednesday: "It was definitely heartfelt. We had all been made aware of Myra’s [Kraft] condition and we would talk about it from time to time and just ask him how everything was going," said Saturday. "He would consistently just tell us that, ‘She wants me here. She thinks this is important not only for our game, but for America,’ and believed wholeheartedly in what we were doing and felt like we could get something accomplished without jeopardizing our game. I got my wife and kids at home and I can’t imagine going through something as stressful as the lockout was on top of having an illness that you know is as serious as it was for his wife. I had a ton of respect for what he was doing and I had a ton of respect for when he was there, he was engaged. He did a lot to help get the thing solved, but on top of that would go home and spend time with his wife regularly, which meant a lot of commuting for him. It was definitely heartfelt and one of those things that I felt very honest and heartfelt about it and it came out to be something to other people, but to me it was more of a heartfelt gesture."
5. Just don't expect more hugs this weekend: Asked if he'd reserve another hug for Kraft on Sunday, Saturday laughed and noted, "I think our man-hugs are probably done. I think we’ll go to handshakes from this point on."