Colts trying to get things right owner’s critique

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indianapolis Colts got the message, loud and clear. The team owner expects a sharper performance and a better effort Sunday night against the New York Giants.

One day after Jim Irsay used Twitter to apologize to fans for Indy’s poor showing in the preseason opener, players and coaches got back to work Tuesday, looking for solutions.

“I’ve been around owners who have called players out and demanded more out of you,” defensive lineman Cory Redding said. “Some guys need to be called out because they react better that way, in a good way. I think he lit a fire under some people.”

That was essentially the point.

In his Monday post, Irsay described Sunday’s 44-20 blowout loss to Buffalo as a “crap performance.” Irsay also explained he had already spoken to his “commanders” and that he had given them an “earful.” Team spokesman Avis Roper said those discussions took place after the game.

“There’s no need to panic,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “But certainly, everybody’s accountable and everybody understands what they have to do.”

Irsay spent nearly $140 million in free agency to add size and speed to the often-maligned defense, to rebuild an offensive line that allowed Andrew Luck to be sacked 41 times and to perform better on special teams. Instead, what the Colts owner saw against Buffalo was a Bills team that broke its franchise record for points in a preseason game despite playing two rookie quarterbacks, Luck sacked once and Chandler Harnish under consistent duress, and Bills kick returner Marquise Goodwin setting up one score with a 53-yard return and tying the score with a 107-yard return for a TD.

That’s not what Irsay or the fans expected. And it’s certainly not what the players or coaches envisioned.

“You can tell his heart is in the Colts 100 percent and his players, I think, at least I do personally, really appreciate how much he (Irsay) cares,” Luck said. “If that’s the way he felt, then I think more power to him for making those thoughts known. We obviously don’t want to disappoint him or any of the fans here in Indianapolis or Colts fans in general around the nation.”

There are a couple of immediate solutions.

One is to give the Colts‘ starters more action.

Luck played two series. One resulted in a punt, while the other ended with a fumble at the Buffalo 19. The starting offensive line played just three series, and backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck left early in the second quarter with a 10-3 lead. It was a similar story on defense, which used mostly second and third-stringers in the second quarter while the Bills kept starting quarterback EJ Manuel and most of their other offensive regulars in for the entire first half.

“They (starters) have to play more just to play as a unit and start to get a great feel for the guy next to them, what that guy’s job is. The more that they play, obviously you’re going to see the things that we’re looking for as far as stopping the run, putting pressure on the quarterback,” Pagano said. “So I think the more that these guys play, I think all that stuff will reveal itself.”

The Colts also might be healthier.

Indy waived two injured players Tuesday, linebackers Justin Hickman (foot) and Quinton Spears (hamstring). Receiver Griff Whalen (groin) and tight end Coby Fleener (concussion) both sat out, but the Colts also activated running back Ahmad Bradshaw and linebacker Pat Angerer from the physically unable to perform list. Bradshaw and Angerer had offseason surgery on their right feet and are now eligible to practice.

Hickman and Spears will go on injured reserve if they clear waivers.

Two other players who were injured against the Bills _ defensive tackle Montori Hughes (stinger) and cornerback Cassius Vaughn (wrist) _ are listed as day-to-day along with safety LaRon Landry (knee). The Colts also may have linebacker Bjoern Werner, their first-round draft pick, back from a sore left knee. While Landry and Werner did play against Buffalo, Werner returned to practice Tuesday.

But the biggest factor in making the owner happy will be cleaning up the mistakes.

“Just like we said after the game, disappointed but not discouraged,” Pagano said. “So we look at the good things. We want to come out and keep working on those and replicate those things and then find the flaws. Find out where our weaknesses are and go to work. I told the guys, `Get with your position coach and let’s get a plan to get better at the things we need to get better on.’”

Notes: The Colts signed cornerback Johnny Adams and linebacker Monte Simmons.

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