Colts trying to forget mistakes, focus on future


Colts trying to forget mistakes, focus on future

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis Colts have spent most of this season doing many things well.

On Monday, the Colts were mulling over what went wrong in Houston.

``Obviously we left points on the field with the fumble on the goal line and then the penalty on the touchdown pass,'' interim coach Bruce Arians said.

From blocking breakdowns to missed tackles, turnovers to blocked punts, there was plenty of blame to go around in the aftermath of Sunday's 29-17 loss to the Texans, a defeat that allowed the Texans to wrap up their second straight AFC South and prevented Indy from clinching an improbable playoff berth.

The film sessions made this week's mission perfectly clear: Show the rest of the league that the mistake-prone team everyone saw in Houston will not be the same one that arrives in Kansas City this week or, presumably, in the playoffs - if Indy can get that elusive 10th victory.

Sure, J.J. Watt made things tough on rookie Andrew Luck and the Colts' offense, receiver Andre Johnson went over 100 yards and Arian Foster topped the 160-yard mark against Indy yet again.

But the biggest problems for Indy were self-inflicted.

Mewelde Moore fumbled the ball at the Texans 1-yard line in the first half. A holding penalty on Kellen Heard nullified Reggie Wayne's acrobatic double toe-tap for what would have been a touchdown. And Dwayne Allen whiffed on a block in punt protection, allowing Houston to block the kick and return it for a score.

``I was set too far back,'' Allen said Monday. ``The kick I had was perfect for pass protection but not for a punt.''

While Indy (9-5) has been far from perfect this season, it's rarely made this many costly errors in one game.

That's why the Colts have won a league-high eight times in one-possession games and Luck has rallied his team six times in the fourth quarter, an NFL rookie record.

This time, the luck ran out and the Colts are forced to make quick fixes - a process complicated by a long list of injuries.

Arians has already ruled out running back Delone Carter (ankle), starting linebacker Kavell Conner (hamstring), starting center Samson Satele (ankle) and starting safety Tom Zbikowski (knee) against the Chiefs (2-12).

The biggest concern, though, is the banged-up offensive line. Watt finished with 10 tackles, three sacks and six tackles for loss against Indy's makeshift unit that will be scrambling to find even more bodies this week.

Right tackle Winston Justice (biceps) sat out against the Texans and Arians couldn't say whether Justice would make it back this week. Satele's backup, A.Q. Shipley, limped off the field with a right knee injury with 28 seconds left Sunday and may not be able to play, either.

If both centers are out, right guard Mike McGlynn will move over and try to help protect Luck, who has already been sacked 37 times this season and taken dozens of more hits.

``As athletic as he is, he's taking some of them himself and it's not all protection,'' Arians said. ``As long as he's on the move and he's getting sacked, he's probably not in harm's way. When he gets drilled right to the face in the middle of the pocket, those are the ones you worry about.''

But as bad as Sunday's game looked, it was not nearly as lopsided on the field.

Indy trailed just 23-17 when it got the ball back with 13:31 left to play, then went three-and-out and allowed Houston to drive for a 46-yard field goal that made it a nine-point game.

Foster didn't top 100 yards until Houston's final possession, and despite all of the miscues, Luck still had a chance to rally the Colts late.

``I think all the guys, including myself, are going to be very critical of what they did, realize that if we want to become a better team, we are going to have to hopefully eliminate the mistakes that we made in this game,'' Luck said.

The veterans concur.

While they applauded Allen and others for taking the blame for some of the miscues, defensive linemen Dwight Freeney and Cory Redding are looking toward the future and a second chance to clinch a playoff spot this week in Kansas City.

``It's one week and whatever happened that one week, doesn't matter for the next, whether we win or lose,'' Freeney said. ``You just learn from the mistakes in a win and in a loss and just move on to that next week and that is the most important game.''

Note: Arians said he's still hoping head coach Chuck Pagano will return for the Dec. 30 regular-season finale against Houston but acknowledged that is ``up in the air.'' He said the Colts could know something definitive later this week and that they could have him back full time at the team complex next Monday. Arians said his longtime friend ``feels great'' and ``looks good'' and that his is white-blood cell counts are good.


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NBA, G League to offer $125,000 contracts to elite prospects

USA Today Sports

NBA, G League to offer $125,000 contracts to elite prospects

The G League will begin offering "select contracts" worth $125,000 next year to elite prospects who are not yet eligible for the NBA, a move that could slightly lessen the handful of one-and-done players at the college level.

There is no determination yet on how players will be identified as potential targets for such a contract. The G League said Thursday that it is establishing a working group to develop that process and other criteria, and that there will be no cap on how many players could be signed to a select deal.

"We recognize that talent assessment is inherently subjective," G League President Malcolm Turner said. "But as the name would suggest, this working group will be charged with identifying the relevant pool of players who may be offered a select contract. It's not as if any player can unilaterally raise their hand and dictate that they will join the league playing under a select contract."

Players will be eligible to sign the select deal if they turn 18 by Sept. 15 prior to the season that they would spend in the G League. The move follows recommendations released earlier this year by the Commission on College Basketball, a group that was chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and was tasked with reforming the college game.

The commission report said "elite high school players with NBA prospects ... should not be `forced' to attend college."

Turner said the move addresses that concern.

"We've tried to answer the basketball community's call for an alternative in a timely and thoughtful way," Turner said.

Players who receive the select contracts all will become eligible for the NBA draft the following year. Their rights would not be retained by an NBA club beforehand, no matter which G League affiliate they wind up with.

Under current rules, players are not eligible to enter the NBA draft until they are a year removed from high school -- though that is expected to change through an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players in time for the 2022 draft.

The G League has allowed 18-year-old players in the past, but never before under any elite designation.

While it is apparent there are still details to be ironed out -- such as how these select players will be allocated to G League teams -- NCAA President Mark Emmert said he appreciates the G League's plan.

"Obtaining a college education continues to provide unmatched preparation for success in life for the majority of student-athletes and remains an excellent path to professional sports for many," Emmert said. "However, this change provides another option for those who would prefer not to attend college but want to directly pursue professional basketball."

And this could put the G League and some big-name NCAA programs on a collision course.

Players can sign letters of intent to play for a Division I school in the 2019-20 season starting next month, and there's nothing to suggest that some of the top recruits -- whether they've signed or not -- won't consider going to the G League for $125,000 instead of college next season. That means the potential is there for some awkward situations if a player signs with a school, and later backs out of that commitment to turn pro.

The G League's working group is expected to be formed and functioning within the next couple of weeks, but it's unclear when the process of players contacting the league and vice versa will begin. It is expected that there will be an advisory council to tell athletes who contact the G League about their potential eligibility for a select deal, much like how college football players can ask about their potential NFL draft status.

"There might be some collision points, but our role and what we intend to do is educate and inform the marketplace," Turner said. "We're also not going to be targeting those who have already made their decisions."

Earlier this year, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James called the NCAA model "corrupt" and said he would suggest to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver a plan to expand the G League and turn it into more of a farm system with an eye on truly preparing young talent for the NBA.

"As the NBA, we have to figure out a way that we can shore up our farm league," James said in February, when he was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers. "And if kids feel like they don't want to be a part of that NCAA program, then we have something here for them to be able to jump back on and not have to worry about going overseas all the time."

Through the first two nights of this NBA season, 35 rookies -- most of them having left college early -- made their debuts. Of the 35, only five scored more than 10 points in their first game.



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Stanley Cup champions in the house for Wizards home opener


Stanley Cup champions in the house for Wizards home opener

It was a full D.C. family affair Thursday night inside Capital One Arena for the Washington Wizards' home opener against the Miami Heat. 

Several Washington Capitals were in attendance on their night off just 24 hours removed from an overtime-thrilling win against the Rangers, 4-3. 

Andre Burakovsky, who buried the game-winner for the Caps Wednesday night, was courtside with teammate Devante Smith-Pelly. Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey and Dmitrij Jaskin were posted up together in a different row. 

It's not all that often that basketball and hockey communities intersect (or get along), but that's certainly not the case in D.C. 

Now, if the reigning Stanley Cup champions can rub off some magic on the Wizards, we really could be referring to this city as the "District of Champions."