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Indianapolis Colts Conference Calls

QB Peyton Manning

(on the Carolina loss going into the bye week) "It's always unfortunate to lose going into your bye week. It's a week you'd like to be able to rest up and kind of leave on a good note. At the same time, I think you can turn it into a positive. Everybody is frustrated, disappointed from the loss against Carolina. At the same time, it kind of opened up some eyes the fact that we do have some things we need to work on and improve. I think we used the bye week to get better and certainly to get healthy as well. We're starting a huge 10-game stretch right here. We have some huge division games starting right here with Houston."

(on possibly facing CB Aaron Glenn) "Every time I've played against the Jets or Houston, Aaron has always played. He is one of the warriors in the NFL. Anytime you have a go that is questionable, you always prepare as if he would play. In the six years that I've been here, he has always been one of the top corners, if not the top corner. I think Marvin (Harrison) has said on occasion that he thinks Aaron is the best corner that he has faced. It's always a challenge going up against him and (Marcus) Coleman."

(on what makes a second-year QB improve) "I think just the reps that you get in games. Sometimes from the sideline you certainly can learn, but it's hard just to realize just how fast the game is. I think experience is your best teacher. I really felt like I started to improve toward the end of my rookie year. The game started slowing down, if you will. You start getting more comfortable with your receivers and with your backs as far as the timing in games. In my second year, we really had a huge turnaround going from 3-13 to 13-3. A lot of that is because I felt more comfortable and started making better decisions. I think David (Carr) would agree to that. Your second year you just feel much more comfortable with everything. It's your second year in your system. It's your second year with your receivers and everything just feels a lot quicker."

(on what the Colts need to improve on) "I think as a team defensively we want to improve our tackling. Offensively, we need to protect the ball better. I think that was a big reason we lost the Carolina game was the fumbles we had and just being more efficient in the red zone. That is really something that coach Dungy and offensive coordinator Tom Moore have talked about. Instead of worrying about winning, just worry about getting better, just improving. If you do that, the wins are going to follow. That was really the emphasis during the off week. That's really the emphasis this week. Try and become a better football player and try to be a better team than we were before the bye week. Because these next six weeks are going to decide a lot of things about a lot of teams. A lot of teams it's easy to start off on a good note, but who can finish? Like I said, it starts right here with these division games playing Houston. It's going to be a great challenge."

(on the decline of the Texans' defense) "They've had some injuries. Certainly, when you lose a guy like Aaron Glenn for a couple of games, then Kenny Wright gets hurt, you're going to have some guys playing some different positions. Certainly, they're very well-coached. They have very good schemes. They do a lot of different things to give you different looks. It starts with players. It starts up front with guys like Gary Walker, who is a real force inside. They've got experienced linebackers like (Jamie) Sharper. Sometimes statistics and those kinds of things are misleading. When you put the film on you see guys flying around the ball. You see guys making plays. I think sometimes you've got to factor in who they're playing. Sometimes in division games things get a lot tighter. The familiarity with the opponents makes things tougher. We're expecting a tough challenge this Sunday."

(on the Colts' improved defense from the past) "Vic Fangio was D-coordintor here during my first four years. I used to watch what those guys used to do in practice and I used to say, 'Boy, that's a tough blitz to pick up and that's a tough scheme to try to go against.' He was a great challenge to go against in practice. I think sometimes either we had some injuries or maybe we just didn't have the right personnel in certain spots. It's hard to compare seasons to seasons. I think this year we've had some guys that have really stepped up and are playing better. Dwight Freeney and Larry Tripplett are both in their second year. These guys are making a lot of plays. Our secondary--we have some experience back there with Walt Harris and Nick Harper at the corners. I've always hated to make these summary judgments after five weeks. It's like you see somebody doing a feature story on a defense on a player and saying, 'Hey, this is his best year ever.' How can you say that after it's only five weeks. All we are is off to a good start record wise. The key, what Tony (Dungy) talks about, is finishing. If you look last year at the week seven standings in the AFC, all four eventual division winners were either I think like in second or third place. Those were the teams that played better at the end of the season. We've got a good start on defense. The key is to keep it going."

(on the Colts' home-field advantage due to their turf) "I don't know necessarily if it's the turf. I think some people may say that. I think most teams feel like they should be a better team at home because of the 12th man advantage. Our fans have been supportive this year. I think it certainly helps from a crowd-noise point of view or whatever. I don't think it's necessarily the turf or anything else. I just think guys when they're playing at home it's important to try to defend your home turf. That's something that we're going to try to do this Sunday."

(on developing a connection with WR Marvin Harrison and how Carr can do the same with WR Andre Johnson) "Well, I think it's something that's not going to happen just overnight. It takes end-of-season work and offseason work. That's the best thing about Marvin (Harrison) and I. This is our sixth year together. I think he missed a few games my rookie year. He had a shoulder injury. Besides that, he has been in there every time I've been in there in practice and in games. He doesn't miss practice. He is here in the offseason to work on our timing. He and I spend a lot of time together, especially in my first two years just working on scrambling drills and just working on the routes versus bump-and-run, versus zone coverage, versus the blitz--all the different looks--and just trying to get comfortable with everything. It's just the fact that every play that we have in our playbook, Marvin and I have run it just a bunch of times whether it's in practice or in games. You just kind of get comfortable with all the adjustments. It's certainly great to have that kind of confidence in a guy like that. That's what we're trying to develop also with our other receivers, guys like Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley and Troy Walters. Those guys haven't been here as long as Marvin. I think it's just consistency is the main thing. Obviously, you want to stay healthy. But just the more reps you run with a certain guy the more comfortable you are going to be. Certainly with a guy like David (Carr) and a guy as talented as (Andre) Johnson or even (Jabar) Gaffney or even (Corey) Bradford--those are big-play receivers. It just takes in-season work and off-season work to develop that timing. Certainly, the talent is going to be there in Houston it just takes a little time to get that super timing."

Head Coach Tony Dungy

(on how the Texans haven't scored a touchdown against the Colts in two games) "Well, hopefully we can keep it that way. Every year is a new year. Watching them on tape, it looks like a completely different group of guys, mainly because of the quarterback. David Carr is just so much further along with his decision making and making things happen quickly. We're going to have our work cut out for us."

(on playing after the bye week) "I think we are anxious to play and get that feeling of that loss--try to remove that a little bit. We had some things that we needed to work on, some things that kind of snuck up on us during the first bye week of the season. We were able to get some of those things cleared up. The other thing is we got some of our guys healthy. I think we'll be anxious to play and hopefully be ready to go."

(on QB Peyton Manning) "Peyton is really the type of guy that you want to coach. He is a very talented player, but that's not what makes him special. The way he prepares and the way he works, he sets a tempo for the whole team and it's just fantastic. You don't really have to do too much as a coach in terms of setting that work ethic for the team when your leadership does it for you. Off the field, as I say preparing and working and being ready to go--he is just phenomenal. I think he's a great person in the community. I know I have two boys that look up to him and that's the type of guy you want them to look up to."

(on the Colts' defense) "No, we're not really playing our best football probably the last three or four games. We had issues that we had to get squared away. I think we have the components of a very good defense. We started the year playing pretty sound. We just have to get back to that."

(on how RB Edgerrin James is playing compared to the past) "I'm probably not the best one to ask because I never saw him first-hand before. I think what I've seen in training camp this year and the games that he's played for us, he was running very well. If we get the type of performance down the stretch that we got from him the first three games of the year, we are going to be in great shape."

(on James' playing status this Sunday) "Yes, he should play and he should be fine. He practiced on Monday and he is set to practice today."

(on QB David Carr's improvement) "I see just really, really quick decision making--knowing where he is going with the ball, going to his second and third receivers very quickly, deciphering what the defense is trying to do and getting the ball to the right people without much delay. That has been probably the most impressive thing. I think they're running the ball a little bit better than they did last year, especially since number 37 is playing. But (David Carr), to me, has been the most impressive guy on their offense."

(on the Texans' offense) "I think you have to play them and play well. They have receivers that have all made big plays. They've run after the catch. Bradford has made plays running through entire defenses. Johnson, you mentioned, is a good play. Gaffney, I know from his days at Florida. He is capable of turning in big plays. They've got a tight end that gets up field and catches the ball. They've got a lot of weaponry. They are using it really well."

(on RB Domanick Davis' running) "To me, (Davis) is running north-south and hitting the holes very quick and breaking tackles in the open field. The Jets missed a lot of tackles on him, not that he was eluding people, but he was kind of slashing, running through arm tackles. It was very impressive."

(on Davis' ability to break tackles) "I've not seen him up close and personal, but he runs hard and runs like some of the better backs in the league in terms of exploding on contact."

(on QB Peyton Manning and WR Marvin Harrison's connection) "I've not been around two guys that really know their craft as well as those two guys do. They obviously have a great chemistry working together six years. They thing so well together. They understand the game and they are both talented guys. It's their preparation and how they go about things that kind of separates them from guys that I've been around. They are very cerebral players as well as being talented."

(on the Tampa Bay victory) "Obviously, when you come from 21 points down with a couple minutes to go, that doesn't happen very often. Really, for about 50 minutes of that game, we didn't play very well. We put ourselves in a position where we had to come back. That's not going to happen very often against good teams. Obviously, I was excited about our guys continuing to play hard and play for 60 minutes and not give up. But we had a lot of issues in that game that we had to clear up. So it's not like it was just a great game on our part. It was a great five minutes."

(on kicker Mike Vanderjagt's comments about Peyton Manning causing conflict in the locker room) "It was probably over and done with here two or three days after it happened. We kind of talked through it and it hasn't really been an issue inside of our building or our locker room since. Obviously, it is something that people around the country are going to hang on and dwell on. They don't know all the details behind it. Those guys are pretty good friends. It really hasn't been brought up inside our locker room since."

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