Tribune Star Correspondent
Even though the Indianapolis Colts have depended heavily on its rookies and first-year players this season, they know the importance of Sunday's game at Kansas City.
The Colts are just one win away from clinching a spot in the AFC playoffs. Indianapolis, though, has been inconsistent away from Lucas Oil Stadium.
Even facing a 2-12 Chiefs team, the Colts -- to a man -- know that their job will not be an easy one.
“I think we realize what’s on the table. If we can win, a chance to get into the playoffs," rookie quarterback Andrew Luck said Monday.
"I think we are excited about that opportunity and realize this is the biggest game we’ve played yet this year against from what we see on tape, on the offensive side of the ball, an unbelievable defense who plays hard, fast, physical. I think as far as the expectation, we understand if we win, playoffs. If we don’t, I guess it’s still there. But we want to win.”
Luck understands that a loss to Kansas City would put the Colts into a must-win scenario against AFC South champion Houston on Dec. 30.
That's why Indianapolis' players and coaches would much prefer to handle their business on Sunday. The Colts expect the usual raucous crowd at Arrowhead Stadium.
“We are well aware, the older guys especially who have been there, of what kind of atmosphere it is," Luck voiced. "They have told us about it. We will prepare for elements as well, but as far as silent count, we’ve practiced it all year for every away game. We will continue to do that.
"Defensively, they play much better than their record indicates. One of the top defenses that I think we’ve faced all year. They play hard, they are fast, physical, they make plays. It’s going to be a great challenge for us, offensively.”
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis, one of the few remaining long-term veterans on the Colts roster, knows that Kansas City will throw everything at Indianapolis from an offensive standpoint as well.
“It’s the NFL. You can’t underestimate anybody. Last year, we were sitting in the same spot, not many wins, but at the same time we came to play each and every week," Mathis said.
"That’s what they do. They get paid to do a job and they do it very well.”
It will be the Colts' job to win and earn a playoff spot.
“The [playoff] atmosphere is alive and well, just knowing that we want to be playing in January. We want our coach, Chuck, to lead us out so that’s a little extra added motivation," Mathis added.
Zbikowski upgraded – Strong safety Tom Zbikowski has not played for the last three weeks due to a shin injury. On Monday, interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had ruled Zbikowski out of Sunday’s game at Kansas City.
Arians, though, reversed himself on Wednesday. The former Notre Dame defensive back is now listed as questionable for the Chiefs game. He saw limited work in Wednesday’s practice.
Injury list – Running back Delone Carter (ankle), inside linebacker Kavell Conner (hamstring), and center Samson Satele (ankle) will not play at Kansas City.
Sitting out Wednesday were inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (thumb), outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (ankle), center A.Q. Shipley (knee) and nose tackle Martin Tevasue (illness).
Nose tackle Antonio Johnson (ankle), offensive tackle Winston Justice (biceps) and Zbikowski were limited in practice. Safety Joe Lefeged (knee) and Luck (knee) both fully participated in the workout.
Freeman watched practice from the sidelines but had his left hand wrapped. His status for Sunday remains undecided.