Indianapolis Colts (6-3) at New England Patriots (7-2)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET
VENUE: Gillette Stadium
TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
PREDICTION: Patriots 31-21
KEYS TO THE GAME: Colts QB Peyton Manning has thrown for 300-plus yards in four of five road games this season and will sling it against the Patriots' young secondary allowing 277.8 passing yards per game. New England has just 18 sacks on the season and will have trouble laying a hand on Manning. As always with coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots will show a lot of varied looks along the front seven and alternate dropping linemen back in coverage looking to cherry pick a few passes.
The pressure will be on the Patriots' offensive line to protect Brady in a race up and down the field. Brady has been sacked just 13 times and Colts DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis aren't quite as quick outdoors. The Patriots rely on a slew of possession receivers while the Colts' cover men focus on keeping plays in front of them - placing a premium on tackling.
FAST FACTS: Patriots QB Tom Brady has won 24 consecutive regular-season home games as a starter, one shy of Brett Favre's NFL record. ... Colts won, 35-34, at home last season with QB Peyton Manning throwing the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds remaining. ... This will be the eighth consecutive season the teams have met, with the past five, including playoffs, being decided by seven points or less. ... The Colts' Jacob Tamme leads NFL tight ends in receptions (24) and receiving yards (245) in November.
While wide receiver Austin Collie has been able to return to practice the last two days, he's decided not to talk to the media just yet concerning his recovery from a concussion.
Collie, who was hurt Nov. 7 when he was sandwiched between a pair of Philadelphia Eagles safeties, did release a written statement Thursday through team media relations director Craig Kelly.
"I certainly have appreciated all of the thoughts and prayers received over the past couple of weeks. Every day I feel like I am improving. And it was great to get back on the field in some capacity Wednesday. The doctors and training staff here have been tremendous. I can't say that enough," Collie said.
"I understand everyone's concern but I prefer not to discuss the specifics of the play in Philadelphia. I hope that can be respected. It was a football play. And that's part of football. Now I want to focus my efforts on continuing the gradual process of getting back on the field and helping our team as we approach a very crucial part of our season."
He remains the Colts' second-leading receiver despite missing two of the last three games with a thumb injury and the concussion.
Collie has hauled in 45 passes for 502 yards and a team-leading six touchdowns. His status for Sunday's game at New England has yet to be determined, but he was able to fully participate in Thursday's practice.
While he has been cleared to practice by team medical personnel, he hasn't been cleared to play.
"There are designations. He was cleared to practice some, so he did a little bit (Wednesday). He was limited. It's a progression thing," coach Jim Caldwell said.
"They constantly monitor and check. They'll let us know whenever that time occurs, and he is ready to go."
Collie has apparently responded well during his recovery process and during his limited practice duty.
"He ran around well, caught the ball. He looked good," Caldwell said.
Pierre Woods has gone from picking up trash to suiting up for an NFL team, quite possibly this weekend when the New England Patriots host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
"You stay humble, it doesn't make a difference (what you do)," said Woods, who was cut earlier this season by the Patriots before being re-signed this week. "It was just something to do. I didn't want to collect unemployment so it's work. Work and work out."
Woods could play an important role as the season progresses. The Patriots have lacked a consistent pass rush for most of the season, but they picked up the pace significantly last week in Pittsburgh where they sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times.
The one thing Woods has is experience. He's been in this system before and knows all the ins and outs, so adjusting to the play-calling won't be an issue. Whether he can produce or not remains to be seen; if Woods were as consistent as the Patriots had initially hoped, he wouldn't have been cut in the first place.
Needless to say, he's an extra body to account for on New England's defense, which is big when you consider they're gearing up for a major challenge this weekend with the Colts in town. There's no defense Peyton Manning hasn't seen, so the best bet is to send the dogs and hope you can bring him down.
"Hey man, I've been working out twice a day for the past two and a half months, something like that, so you just have to be ready and stretch well, take care of your body, eat right and that's what I've been doing," Woods said. "The guys at Michigan were taking care of me so big ups to those guys out there.
"I'm just ready to go out here and learn."
The Patriots are hoping the process is a bit faster considering Sunday's game is right around the corner. If Woods can contribute right away, it'll make an impact on how the Patriots' secondary plays against the high-powered Colts offense. For now, Woods is just glad to be back.
"You have to stay positive," he said. "I had positive people around me, the people that were real and have been real. Once you stop playing or you're out, there's a lot of people that stop calling. So those people that stopped calling, I know where they are. I ain't going to trip. I know it's a blessing to be back and I'm here to work."
Colts (updated here)
--CB Kelvin Hayden (neck) saw limited work in Thursday's practice. He is expected to play Sunday at New England.
--WR Reggie Wayne (knee) took part in full work during Thursday's practice. He did not take participate in Wednesday's workout. Wayne is expected to play Sunday against the Patriots.
--WR Blair White (shoulder) returned for full practice Thursday. White saw limited work on Wednesday. He missed practice time last week and did not play against Cincinnati.
--RB Joseph Addai (neck) saw limited practice time on Thursday. He did not take part in Wednesday's workout. Addai has been nursing a sore shoulder and neck for the past three weeks.
--LB Gary Brackett (toe) did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. Brackett was hurt against the Eagles and did not play in the Cincinnati game.
--CB Justin Tryon (foot) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Tryon has missed the last two weeks.
--LB Clint Session (elbow) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Session has been sidelined since the Houston game on Nov. 1.
--RB Mike Hart (ankle) did not take part in practice Wednesday and Thursday. Hart has not played the last two games.
--TE Brody Eldridge (ribs) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He saw limited playing time against the Bengals last week.
--S Bob Sanders (biceps) has already been ruled out of the New England game.
Patriots (updated here)
--QB Tom Brady was limited in practice Thursday due to a sprained foot, but appears to be ready to go Sunday against the Colts barring any unforeseen setbacks.
--OG Stephen Neal continues to take it slow in practice. He participated in a limited portion Thursday due to a shoulder injury and will likely be a game-time decision Sunday.
--RB Fred Taylor continues to participate in a limited portion of practice, but it's unclear whether his turf toe injury will keep him out of the game. Given his recent history, it's a safe bet that he won't be ready to play.
--CB Jonathan Wilhite missed portions of Thursday's practice with a hip injury, though it's unknown at the time whether the injury is serious. His situation will be monitored closely.
--S Jarrad Page missed Thursday's practice due to a calf injury and will likely miss Sunday's game against the Colts. Page has been battling the injury for several weeks.
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