Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Sports

December 12, 2013

Young receivers help as Hilton faces double-teams

INDIANAPOLIS – Outside linebacker Robert Mathis, one of the Indianapolis Colts two most vested veterans, has taken it upon himself to make sure his team is ready for Sunday’s AFC South matchup with Houston (1 p.m., CBS Sports).

Mathis and injured wide receiver Reggie Wayne have been with the Colts the longest. They, along with defensive end Cory Redding and safety Antoine Bethea, have become important voices in the Indianapolis locker room.

With the Colts having already locked up the division title, the next goal is to finish the regular season strong and be ready to roll into the playoffs.

But that’s easier said than done. Indianapolis has lost three of the last five games and the defense has been giving up yards and points by the bucketful.

If the Colts want to do any damage in the post-season, that trend has to stop. The defense will be severely tested by a 2-11 Houston team that has the ability to score quickly and often.

“It’s a division game, [a] division rival. [They’ve] got a roster that’s loaded with great talent. They’ve got a good football team. You look at their last six ballgames that they’ve played. They’ve lost those six ballgames by a combined total of 28 points,” head coach Chuck Pagano warned Wednesday.

“They’re coming in here to win a football game. We all know that and so we’ll prepare accordingly.”

Mathis and the rest of his Colts defensive teammates know all about Houston and how explosive their offense can be.

The Texans jumped out to a 21-3 lead the first time the two teams faced off this season at Reliant Stadium. Quarterback Case Keenum and Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson lead the way for the Houston offense.

“We have to get back to basics and do our job,” Mathis said of the Colts’ recent defensive struggles. “[You] have to get [Keenum] under wraps. You just can’t let him get going knowing he’s the engine that drives their offensive machine. [We] have to stay on him just as much as we can.”

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