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Colts insider previews game


Rookie Steve Slaton could be in for a big day against Indianapolis' struggling run defense.

Indianapolis Colts beat writer Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star joined for an exclusive interview to preview the Texans-Colts Week 5 matchup at Reliant Stadium.

Chappell has covered the Colts for *The Star *since 1984, the year the Colts moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis.

Nick Scurfield, To what do you attribute Peyton Manning's slow start? Is he still feeling the effects of offseason knee surgery?

Mike Chappell: Manning had surgery on his left knee July 14 to remove an infected bursa. There's no question it impacted the start of the season; he missed all of training camp and the entire preseason. He was unable to sharpen his timing with his receivers, and it showed. But that's no longer a problem. Manning has had plenty of time to recapture whatever timing was lost during the preseason.

Nick Scurfield: How much healthier are the Colts coming out of the early bye week?

Mike Chappell: Much healthier. The only lingering concerns are safety Bob Sanders, who's dealing with a high ankle sprain and arthroscopic surgery on one of his knees, and guard Dan Federkeil, who has a shoulder injury. Neither practiced this week. Sanders definitely will miss at least a couple of games. It's uncertain how much time Federkeil will miss, if any. The bye week allowed rookie guard Mike Pollak (knee) and offensive left tackle Tony Ugoh (groin) to regain their health. Both should be available for Sunday's game. Ugoh should return to the starting lineup, and Pollak might start at right guard.

{QUOTE}Nick Scurfield: How does Sanders' injury change the complexion of the Indianapolis defense? What opportunities does it create for the Texans?

Mike Chappell: Sanders is such a force for the defense. He's a sure tackler and can be a difference-maker. His intensity is contagious. But one thing to keep in mind is even with Sanders in the lineup the first two games, the run defense was giving up about 180 yards per game. Sanders' backup, Melvin Bullitt, is a very athletic player, but he lacks experience. I'm sure the Texans don't mind a bit that Sanders will be watching the game, not playing in it.

Nick Scurfield: Rookie running back Steve Slaton has been a big bright spot for the Texans this season, while the Colts have allowed 199 yards rushing per game. What have you seen out of Slaton so far, and how much success do you think he'll have on Sunday?

Mike Chappell: In all honesty, I haven't had a chance to see Slaton play. But from talking with Tony Dungy about him, Slaton sounds like the type of runner who generally gives the Colts defense problems. It can be vulnerable to quick, sharp-cutting backs who can slip tackles or make the first guy miss. That has led to big runs during the first three games. I expect Slaton to get his yards. The problem won't be Slaton getting 90-100 yards. It will be if he gets loose for 150.

Nick Scurfield: If the Texans are to win, what will be the keys to their victory?

Mike Chappell: Establish Steve Slaton on offense and pressure Manning on defense. If the Texans run effectively with Slaton, they can control the clock and limit the possessions for the Colts offense. When Manning's on the field, Houston needs to get him out of his comfort zone. It needs to get in his face, make him move around. If he's allowed to stand in the pocket and make his reads, he'll pick apart the Texans' secondary.

Nick Scurfield: What's your prediction for the score?
Mike Chappell: Colts 24, Texans 23.


Check out Chappell's Colts coverage on The Indianapolis Star website by clicking here.

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