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Cols will have hands full with Saints offense

The Sports Xchange

The New Orleans Saints offense was already tough enough with quarterback Drew Brees, running back Pierre Thomas, tight end Jimmy Graham and a slew of talented receivers, such as Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore and Robert Meachem.

But when the Saints added a pair of talented running backs to the mix -- free agent Darren Sproles and rookie draft pick Mark Ingram (who won the Heisman Trophy in 2009) -- in the offseason, one of the NFL's most prolific offenses became almost unstoppable.

That's the test that the Indianapolis Colts defense will face in a nationally-televised game Sunday night.

"They can outscore people, and that's the thing that they can do. They can generate points in a heartbeat, and they're never out of a game. They certainly can put points on the board in a hurry, so they do put some pressure on you in that regard," Colts coach Jim Caldwell said.

"But you have to be able to play your game, and you have to be able to play defense. That's extremely important. Offensively, you have to be able to control the clock as well."

The addition of Sproles certainly got the attention of the Indianapolis coaching staff. The diminutive running back (5-6, 190) has become a major thorn in the side of the Colts after several outstanding individual performances while he was playing in San Diego.

Outstanding as a receiver out of the backfield and as a situational runner, Sproles' ability to return punts and kickoffs certainly makes him a handful to try and defend.

"He's one of those guys that just has a rare ability that once he gets in space he's tough to handle. When you say contain, there are going to be certain parts of the game where he is going to get loose because they make certain he gets the ball in his hands," Caldwell maintains.

"Kickoff return, punt return, throw it to him and hand it to him. There are no limits to the way in which they get him the ball. Once he gets it in space, he's a handful. He's an explosive guy and you just have to be able to keep him within the confines of, maybe, a big play here or there. But if he can run wild, flip the field on you and score touchdowns, then it's going to be a long day."

--The Purdue Bowl? Or how about the Boilermaker Classic?

Those are just some of the suggested ways to bill Sunday night's nationally televised game between the Colts and Saints.

Sure, this game is a rematch of Super Bowl XLIV. But there's nothing about the current Colts team that reminds anyone of postseason excellence.

Indianapolis comes into the game with an uncharacteristic 0-6 record, while the Saints are a more respectable 4-2.

Few expect the Colts will be able to go into the Superdome on Sunday night and come away with their first victory of the season.

Which brings the topic right back to a couple of the game's headline performers, a pair of former Purdue quarterbacks -- Indianapolis' Curtis Painter and New Orleans' Drew Brees.

Brees led the Boilermakers to a Big Ten Conference championship and a spot in the Rose Bowl. Painter followed him a few years later in West Lafayette.

"That will be a lot of fun. I've admired Drew for many years while I was at Purdue, and even at the level he's at now," Painter said. "I got to see him my rookie year at the Super Bowl, so it will certainly be fun to go out there and play against him."

While Painter and Brees aren't close friends, they do have that Boilermaker bond.

"Yeah, definitely. He was back a lot of times at Purdue doing different charity events and publicity things (when Painter was in college), so I got to meet him a few times," Painter said. "We've got a little relationship there."

Colts coach Jim Caldwell knows Brees' abilities well.

"He's very, very accurate, anticipates extremely well and, certainly, is well aware of everything around him. He can get them into great plays, get them out of bad ones, and he's a very aggressive quarterback," Caldwell said. "He's going for the jugular anytime he can get it. He's a very, very smart player, and, certainly, one of the best quarterbacks in the league."

11th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 5-5. New Orleans won the only postseason meeting with a 31-17 victory in Super Bowl XLIV. The Colts have won the last two regular-season matchups, posting a 55-21 win at the Superdome in 2003 and a 41-10 decision at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis during the 2007 season. Indianapolis has a 2-3 regular-season road record against the Saints. The first series meeting between the Colts and Saints franchises occurred in 1967 in Baltimore, with the Colts posting a 30-10 victory.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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