Defensive end Mario Williams had two sacks against Peyton Manning and the Colts in Week 5.
Indianapolis Colts beat writer Tom James of the *Terre Haute (Ind.) Tribune-Star *joined Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com for an exclusive interview to preview the Week 11 matchup between the Texans (3-6) and Colts (5-4) at Lucas Oil Stadium.
James has been covering the Colts on a regular basis since 1999. He writes primarily for the Tribune-Star, which is a CNHI publication. James also writes for other papers in the CNHI group and occasionally writes for Pro Football Weekly *and *USA Sports Weekly.
Terre Haute is the home of the Colts' training camp at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
Nick Scurfield:How is this Colts team different than the one the Texans faced in Week 5?
Tom James:This Colts team is a little bit healthier. Quarterback Peyton Manninghas more work under his belt and his timing has improved with his receivers. Center Jeff Saturday, strong safety Bob Sanders and outside linebacker Tyjuan Haglerare all back. The rookie offensive linemen (Mike Pollakin particular) are a bit more seasoned. And the defense has played better in recent weeks. On the negative side, both starting cornerbacks -- Kelvin Hayden(hamstring) and Marlin Jackson(knee) -- won't be playing this week. Jackson is out for the rest of the year. Hayden may be back in another week.
Nick Scurfield:How does a healthy Bob Sanders change the complexion of the Indianapolis defense?
Tom James:He brings an attitude to the defense. His style of play, the way he carries himself on the field during a game. He is one of the rare athletes who makes people better by just being around.
Nick Scurfield:What's been the difference in the Colts turning around their season after a 3-4 start with two big wins against New England and Pittsburgh?
Tom James:Improved defensive play, especially against the run. Better offensive production. While the timing between Manning and his key receivers isn't as crisp as they all would like it to be, it's still better than what it was earlier in the season.
Nick Scurfield:Why have the Colts struggled so badly trying to run the ball this year, averaging a league-worst 69.2 rushing yards per game?
Tom James:Primarily, it's been the shuffling of players along the offensive line due to injuries. Saturday, a three-time Pro Bowl center, missed a couple of games early in the year. Offensive tackle Tony Ugohmissed playing time with a strained groin. The Colts have started as many as three rookies on the offensive line (Pollak, Jamey Richardand Steve Justice). And running back Joseph Addai has missed playing time with a hamstring injury, although backup running back Dominic Rhodeshas done a nice job filling in when called upon.
Nick Scurfield:Where do the Texans present the biggest matchup problems for the Colts?
Tom James:Along the offensive line. Houston is so talented along the defensive front. Mario Williams can be quite a handful. But it's just not Williams. The Texans have a really good defensive unit. They're big, they're quick and they'll hit you.
Nick Scurfield:What's your prediction for the score?
Tom James:Colts 28, Texans 17.
To read James' comprehensive Colts coverage on the Terre Haute Tribune-Star website, click here.