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Pagano focuses Colts on winning

INDIANAPOLIS -- With three games remaining in the 2017 regular season, don't expect the Indianapolis Colts to use the occasion to take a long look at the team's younger players.


Head coach Chuck Pagano made that point perfectly clear Tuesday.

"We're going to play to win. Don't care who they are. We won't go with younger players," a determined Pagano stressed.

Denver comes to Lucas Oil Stadium for a nationally televised game Thursday night. The Colts are looking at the game the same way as they have the previous 13, although preparing for the matchup on a short week does have its disadvantages.

"We've really always taken kind of the same approach. I think it's hard coming off of a Sunday game. We've always modified. Walk through the day after the game (Monday), then we pick it up a little bit (Tuesday) and a little bit more on Wednesday. Then you've got a full day Thursday," Pagano said.

"It's a challenge. Guys like playing football. Guys like playing on prime time. Our guys are excited about having an opportunity to play on Thursday. They understand it's difficult from a preparation standpoint and getting their body back and all that stuff. But, again, we don't have any control over that stuff. So we'll prepare the best we can and get ready to play."

The fact that Indianapolis has played the Broncos five times, counting post-season games, since the start of the 2013 season makes game preparation a bit easier. There is some familiarity there.

"A lot of work was done prior (to last weekend's game at Buffalo). We've played them. We're familiar, " the Colts coach said.

"They're the No. 1-ranked defense right now in the National Football League. They've got some really good players. They're well coached. They've got one of the best in the league in (outside linebacker) Von Miller. Shane Ray on the other side. A secondary that's really good. Corners that all cover, compete and play. It's a huge challenge, this game."

There is also familiarity with first-year head coach Vance Joseph.

"Vance Joseph is a defensive guy and we know his dossier and what he likes to do," Pagano added. "So it's similar to what we've seen in the past out of them.

"It isn't like we're dusting something off and going against an NFC team that we haven't seen in a long time. It's a good football team. They got a huge win (vs. Jets last Sunday), which helps them. Confidence and all that stuff. We won't have to travel. They've got to travel. We'll have our hands full, obviously."

SERIES HISTORY: 24th regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series, 13-10. Indianapolis has won six of the last eight and eight of the last 12 regular-season matchups. Denver, however, won the last regular-season meeting, taking a 34-20 home-field victory on Sept. 18, 2016. The Colts are 7-5 in home games vs. Denver and 3-8 on the road. Indianapolis is 3-0 vs. the Broncos in games played at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts are also 3-0 vs. Denver in post-season games. Indianapolis' last regular-season home-field loss to the Broncos occurred on Dec. 21, 2003 as Denver posted a 31-17 victory at the RCA Dome.

--The Colts are 10-1 in Thursday night games dating back to 2007. Indianapolis is 4-1 on Thursday night since Chuck Pagano became head coach in 2012. The lone loss was last year's 28-7 home game vs. Pittsburgh.

Indianapolis is 36-24 in prime-time games since the start of the 2004 season. The Colts are 14-15 in prime-time games broadcast by NBC. Indianapolis is also 0-1 in Thursday night prime-time games broadcast by NBC.

--Running back Frank Gore's 36 rushing attempts against the Bills Sunday set an NFL record for the most carries by a running back in a single game age 34 or older. Here are the top three for the most carries in a game for NFL running backs: Frank Gore, 36, 12/10/17 at Buffalo (age 34); John Riggins, 33, 9/23/84 at New England age 35); Marcus Allen, 33, 12/24/94 at L.A. Raiders (age 34).

Gore's yeoman performance against Buffalo continues to be the talk in Indianapolis. It didn't surprise head coach Chuck Pagano.

"A man possessed. That's what we're calling him," Pagano said, adding that the veteran running back is expected to be OK heading into Thursday night's home game with Denver.

"Yeah, he'll be alright. He takes great care of himself and we understand, and he understands, the age and all that stuff. Nothing surprises me anymore with Frank. We're going to need a bunch of him on Thursday."

--Indianapolis won the fourth quarter on Sunday (7-0) for the first time this season. The Colts, however, have now been outscored 120-35 in fourth quarters this year.

--The Colts' 46 team rushing attempts in the loss to Buffalo were the most in a game for the franchise since a Dec. 7, 1997 game with the Jets.

--Tight end Jack Doyle is four receptions away from passing Jacob Tamme for the third most receptions by a Colts tight end in a single season. Doyle has 64 catches this season. Tamme had 67 during the 2010 season.

--Coach Chuck Pagano was asked Monday for an update on how quarterback Andrew Luck is doing in his continuing rehab from shoulder surgery.

"He's doing fine. Communicating via email and text. (He's) making progress," the Colts coach said. "I think everybody knows he's in Europe somewhere getting some great treatment. Where that is exactly, you probably know more than I know. I don't get on social media and all that stuff."

--The Colts added WR Matt Hazel to the practice squad and released CB Taurean Nixon from the practice squad.

Hazel has spent time on both the active roster and practice squad for Indianapolis this season. He was initially claimed off waivers from Washington on Sept. 3. Hazel was released last week.

NOTES: CB Rashaan Melvin (hand) was limited during Tuesday's workout. He did not practice Monday. Melvin is not expected to play Thursday night, but could be a game time decision. ... WR Donte Moncrief (ankle) did not practice Tuesday. Moncrief was also held out of Monday's walk-through workout. He is not expected to play Thursday night against Denver. He might be able to return next week. ... TE Darrell Daniels (hamstring) was limited during practice Monday and Tuesday. Daniels will most likely be a game-time decision Thursday night. He has missed the last three games. ...DT Hassan Ridgeway (shoulder) fully participated in workouts Monday and Tuesday. Ridgeway may be given the green light to play against the Broncos Thursday night. ... C Ryan Kelly (concussion) went through a full practice Monday and Tuesday. Kelly will meet with a neurosurgeon Wednesday, which will determine his availability for the Denver game. ... QB Jacoby Brissett (quad) went through a full practice Monday and Tuesday. Brissett should be good to go against the Broncos Thursday night. ...

RB Frank Gore (hand) did not practice Tuesday. It was considered to be a rest day for the veteran. He fully participated in Monday's walk-through. Gore is expected to start against Denver Thursday night. ...

Rookie CB Nate Hairston (concussion) was limited in Tuesday's practice session. Hairston needs to be cleared before he can play against Denver Thursday night.

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