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October 3, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Five questions, five answers: With Colts beat writer Tom James

Andrew Luck
Time for our weekly look at Seattle’s opponent, asking five questions, and getting five answers, of a beat writer who covers that week’s foe. This week, our guest is Tom James, who covers the Colts for the Terre Haute Tribune-StarYou can follow James on Twitter at @TribStarTJames.
Q1: Looks like Andrew Luck (above in an Associated Press photo) has picked up where he left off last year. Is there any difference in his play this season?
James: Luck is running a new offense that was installed this past spring by new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Hamilton had been an assistant at Stanford when Luck was in college, so the new offense was not all that unfamiliar. Instead of a drop back and air the ball out passing attack that former coordinator Bruce Arians ran, the new system is more run oriented aimed at improving Luck’s pass efficiency and fewer turnovers.
Q2: How has the trade for Trent Richardson impacted things so far?
James: A work in progress right now. Richardson is still digesting the Colts massive playbook as he has only been with the team for about two weeks. His game work has increased due to a neck injury incurred by starter Ahmad Bradshaw, which has helped accelerate Richardson’s learning curve. When both are healthy, the Bradshaw and Richardson combination should give Indianapolis a pretty dynamic 1-2 punch.
Q3: Statistically, the defense appears to be off to a great start. What have been some keys to the defense so far?
James: A second year in the 3-4 hybrid defensive scheme that was installed prior to last season by head coach Chuck Pagano and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has helped in terms of knowing their assignments better. The Colts had been a 4-3 defense for several years. Indianapolis also was active in the veteran free agent market last spring and added five new starters — defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, nose tackle Aubrey Franklin, outside linebacker Erik Walden, safety LaRon Landry and cornerback Greg Toler.
Q4: Seattle’s offensive line is a little banged up right now and struggled a lot last week against Houston. How do you think Indianapolis’ defensive front matches up with the Seahawks’ offensive line?
James:The Colts are dinged up on their defensive line a little bit as well. Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois was sidelined last week with a groin strain and may not play against the Seahawks. Backup Fili Moala would get the start if Jean Francois can’t go this week. Indianapolis, though, has gotten strong play from defensive end Cory Redding, nose tackles Aubrey Franklin and Josh Chapman, along with Jean Francois and Moala.
Q5: Finally, the Colts were a surprise playoff team last year. Are the expectations greater this season, and if so, do those appear realistic so far?
James: Indianapolis surprised a lot of people a year ago with its 11-5 record and runnerup finish in the AFC South. The Colts were a wild-card playoff team, losing to eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore in it’s first playoff game. With Pagano back on the sidelines on a regular basis and experienced gained a year ago, Indianapolis players and coaches have made it point to prove to people that last year was no fluke or Cinderella story.


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