As a sports-talk nation debates what the Indianapolis Colts will do next – rest starters or play for perfection? – coach Jim Caldwell made it clear today the team's plans to play healthy regulars on Thursday night at Jacksonville.
"We're going to approach it like we do any other game," Caldwell said, when asked if quarterback Peyton Manning would be pulled early in a game that means nothing to the Colts (13-0) in the standings. … The only exception in the Colts' plan for this week is if a player is nursing an injury serious enough to prevent participation in practice.
That statement, of course, applies only to Week 15 against Jacksonville. Lucky Jaguars. The Colts have already clinched home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs; they need to find a way to remain sharp while minimizing injury risk. Watch the practice reports carefully, because it sounds like the slightest tweak could lead to a week of rest for any player. [Indianapolis Star]
• Kevin Smith's(notes) knee injury – suffered in the fourth quarter of a game his team trailed by 38 points – is "significant" according to Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. Smith's year is almost certainly over and his 2010 season is in jeopardy. Maurice Morris(notes) is behind Smith on the depth chart, although preseason hero Aaron Brown should get a long look over the final three weeks against the Cards, Niners and Bears. [Detroit Free Press]
• In Week 14, Ryan Moats(notes) did the one thing that Houston running backs are no longer permitted to do: He lost a fumble. Undrafted rookie Arian Foster(notes) took over and finished with a team-high 13 carries. Foster gained 88 total yards on 17 touches in the Texans' blowout win over Seattle. Following the game, Houston coach Gary Kubiak had this to say regarding Foster's future workload: "We're fixing to pick it up big-time for him." So I'm fixin' to add him. Foster gets whatever's left of the Rams in Week 15. [Houston Chronicle]
Later in the locker room, Young was upbeat, even doing a Santa Claus impersonation with a "Ho, ho, ho" when he was approached by a youngster.
Coach Jeff Fisher called the injury a "mild" hamstring injury. Young and Fisher said they would be careful, however.
Santa entered Week 14 dealing with a knee injury. He spent much of the second half riding a stationary bike on the sideline. [The Tennessean]
The Eagles quietly confirmed that they anticipate Eagles running back Brian Westbrook playing next weekend against the San Francisco 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field. …
Westbrook is trying out the DNA helmet that according to reports uses the same shock-absorbing technology used to protect Army paratroopers and Navy SEALS. The DNA is more rounded and bulbous than a conventional helmet. It’s engineered to turn hits into glancing blows, lessening the chance of concussions. The interior of the helmet also has added cushioning.
Westbrook participated in practice last week, but was held out on Sunday night. He presents a rankings challenge for Week 15, as LeSean McCoy(notes), Leonard Weaver(notes) and Michael Vick(notes) have all claimed roles in the run game during his absence. [Delaware County Daily Times]
"He's actually a lot better today," coach Wade Phillips said.
Ware spent the night at home after suffering a sprained neck in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss against San Diego. Ware was carted off the field and transported to a Dallas hospital for more examinations. He never lost full strength or use of his extremities and was talking to players on the field as he was looked at by the medical staff.
Dallas and New Orleans face each other on Saturday, as the season enters its game-per-day phase. [Dallas Morning News]
• At last, it's Rams Report Card time! Strangely, there were no Fs this week and only four Ds. You'd think that somebody might deserve a failing grade after St. Louis lost by 40 points to a sub-.500 team. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
Photos via AP Images