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Colts vs. Jaguars Game Snapshot
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Natural grass
TV: CBS, Spero Dedes, Steve Beuerlein
PREDICTION: Colts 24-21
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Colts would like to keep it on the ground enough to keep the Jaguars guessing, but Jacksonville's injury-plagued secondary is inviting and the Colts have significant matchup advantages on the outside. Forcing mistakes out of QB Blaine Gabbert, a rookie operating in a risk-averse offense, first requires the Colts being able to limit RB Maurice Jones-Drew's damage. Jones-Drew rushed for 114 yards on 25 carries, and added 23 yards receiving (137), of the team's total of 251 yards in a Nov. 13 win at Indianapolis.
FAST FACTS: As a starter with the Colts, Orlovsky has a passer rating of 95.0 in the fourth quarter. ... Six of the last eight meetings have been decided by seven points or less. ... With a loss to the Jaguars, the Colts would secure the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft. With a Colts win and a Rams' loss, St. Louis would overtake Indy at the No. 1 spot.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Cohesion. That's the word that keeps coming up when coach Jim Caldwell and many of the team's players are asked about the turnaround of the Indianapolis Colts' defensive unit.
A lot of the credit for the play of the defense in recent weeks, especially in the Colts' wins over Tennessee and Houston, has been the elevation of linebackers coach Mike Murphy to interim defensive coordinator.
Murphy had never been a coordinator at the NFL level prior to taking over Indianapolis' defense, although he did handle the duties as a college assistant coach and in the Canadian Football League.
"(The defense) been doing a better job of playing with a bit more cohesion. They've certainly been playing fast. Things are a bit simpler for them, and they don't have to think about a whole lot. So you let them sort of use their God-given ability to get to the ball," Caldwell explained this week.
"Speed and simplicity, I think are very, very important in terms of the way in which we play defense. And they've been doing that very, very well here over the last few weeks. They've been tackling well, and I think that has helped us. We aren't perfect, but we've got a lot of guys playing with a lot of effort and enthusiasm."
Defensive end Dwight Freeney appreciates the changes in the team's defensive system.
"Yeah, it is just a clearer picture. There is no confusion, and there is no, 'what do I do on this play?' That causes you to be a little bit hesitant on the field, and you lose a step," Freeney said.
"Losing a step in this league is the difference between a touchdown or not and a sack or not. So I think Mike (Murphy) has done a great job."
The decision to give Murphy the coordinator title was greeted with enthusiasm in the Colts locker room.
"I think it has been a good thing. He has been here from the beginning, so he knows us. He knows the makeup of this defense and what we are best at. So he can put guys into a position to make plays and make calls (because we are) a little bit more comfortable with his play-calling," Freeney said.
"(There was) not much panic, because he knows the scheme and the system in and out. He knows what Robert (Mathis), me, Antoine (Bethea) and whoever is capable of doing. He does a good job."
Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu hasn't missed a game in his first two seasons with the Jaguars even though he's been hampered by cartilage damage he suffered in his right knee early last season.
Last year, the doctor thought rest would cure the problem in the offseason although the lack of an offseason workout program because of the lockout may have hindered his rehab.
Now the doctors will decide in the offseason if they think he needs surgery on the knee. He said he felt great at the start of training camp but it started bothering him again during camp.
He had an MRI which didn't show any major damage and he said he told the team he could play with the injury.
"I kind of just said it's something I can play through and we just kind of took care of it through the season. I was fortunate to make it this far," he said as the Jaguars prepare to end the season Sunday against Indianapolis.
The Jaguars limited his practice time every Wednesday during the season so the knee would take less wear and tear. And he plays with a brace on the knee.
Now the question is what treatment the knee will get in the offseason.
"I'm looking forward to doing whatever it takes to get my knee right. Whatever it is the doctors say I need to do, I'm all for it. I don't want to be in this position (next year)," he said.
The knee has probably affected his play although he's not the type of player to make any excuses.
He had 52 snaps against Tennessee and didn't make the stat sheet, but the Jaguars gave him credit for one tackle, one pass defensed and three quarterback pressures.
For the season, he is fifth on the team with tackles with 73 and 2.5 sacks.
And he's won the plaudits of his teammates.
"He's a straight up warrior, man," defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. "He pushed through everything. I wish he could have done it to his full potential, but he gave us all he could. He did an excellent job."
"The sky's the limit for him," Mincey said if Alualu can stay healthy.
--LB A.J. Edds (ankle) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. His status for the Jacksonville game is up in the air at the present time. Edds missed several games earlier this month due to an ankle injury.
--WR Anthony Gonzalez (illness) was held out of Wednesday's workout but returned for Thursday's practice. Gonzalez is expected to play at Jacksonville on Sunday.
--OG Joe Reitz (ankle) was sidelined during practice Wednesday and Thursday. Reitz was hurt in last week's home game with Houston. His availability for the Jacksonville game has yet to be decided.
--QB Dan Orlovsky returned for Thursday's practice after missing work on Wednesday. Orlovsky's wife gave birth to triplet sons early Wednesday morning.
--TE Dallas Clark (neck burner) practiced fully on Wednesday and Thursday. While Clark wants to play Sunday against Jacksonville, he will probably be a game-time decision.
--WR Cecil Shorts didn't practice because of a hamstring injury Thursday and probably won't play against Indianapolis.
--RB Maurice Jones-Drew didn't practice Thursday because of an ankle injury, but he will play.
--OT Guy Whimper was limited in practice Thursday with a knee injury and may not play against Indianapolis.
--S Dwight Lowery was limited in practice Thursday with a shoulder injury and may not play against Indianapolis.
--TE Zach Potter suffered a calf injury in practice Thursday and may not be able to play against Indianapolis.
--OT Eugene Monroe suffered an ankle injury in practice and it is uncertain if he'll be able to play against Indianapolis.
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