Seattle Seahawks (1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (3-0)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX (Dick Stockton, Charles Davis, Chris Myers)
SERIES: 10th regular-season meeting. The Colts lead the series 5-4, although the Seahawks have won three of their last four against Indianapolis.
PREDICTION: Colts 34-17
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Seahawks expect QB Seneca Wallace to start in place of Matt Hasselbeck (fractured rib) for a second consecutive week. Wallace brings mobility, but he lacks accuracy and was skittish in the pocket as the offensive line was under constant duress last Sunday. The Colts will bring similar pressure whenever possible, so the Seahawks must be able to control the game on the ground and hope to create plays after completing underneath passes. The Colts lead the league with 322.7 passing yards per game and will take aim at the Seahawks' depleted secondary. However, the ground game remains a work in progress. The Colts are averaging just 3.5 yards per carry, but the Seahawks are more vulnerable up the middle with MLB Lofa Tatupu (hamstring) likely out again.
FAST FACTS: Seahawks RB Edgerrin James, the NFL's active rushing leader with 12,164 yards, will play his first game in Indianapolis since leaving as a free agent in 2006. ... The Colts have a 12-game regular-season winning streak.
--OG Rob Sims missed practice for a second straight day with a strained oblique muscle and could miss Sunday's game against Indianapolis. If Sims can't go, Mansfield Wrotto would start at left guard for Seattle.
--RB Edgerrin James returns to Indianapolis for the first time since he left the team in 2005. James played his first seven seasons for the Colts, averaging 1,318 rushing yards, 51 receptions and nearly 11 touchdowns.
--QB Matt Hasselbeck missed his second straight practice on Thursday, and is unlikely to play against the Colts on Sunday.
--S Jordan Babineaux was a full participant in practice this week, and is recovering from an injured shoulder. The team will need the starting safety going against the top passing attack in the league in Indianapolis.
--CB Ken Lucas was a limited participant in practice on Thursday because of a nagging groin injury, but is moving better and should play on Sunday.
--DE Dwight Freeney (quadriceps) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He is not expected to play Sunday against Seattle.
--WR Anthony Gonzalez (knee) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He will not play against Seattle on Sunday.
--S Bob Sanders (knee) has not returned to a full practice regimen. He is continuing to rehab after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason.
--RB Chad Simpson (abdomen) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. A final decision on his availability for the Seahawks game won't be made until Saturday.
--CB T.J. Rushing would most likely take over both the punt and kickoff return duties against the Seahawks on Sunday if Simpson can't play. Rushing is the Colts' usual punt returner and has experience as a kick returner as well.
--LB Gary Brackett (knee) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. His status for the Seattle game on Sunday won't be determined until Saturday.
--CB Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. It won't be known until Saturday if Hayden will be able to play against the Seahawks on Sunday.
--DE Keyunta Dawson (foot) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He remains hopeful of being able to play Sunday against the Seahawks.
--PK Adam Vinatieri (hip/knee) did not take part in Thursday's practice. He was given the day off to rest. He should be able to kick against Seattle on Sunday.
--CB Tim Jennings was given Thursday off and did not practice. He is expected to start Sunday against the Seahawks
--OT Tony Ugoh did not practice on Thursday as he was given the day off to rest. Ugoh should be available to play against Seattle on Sunday.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Without the services of offensive tackles Sean Locklear (ankle) and Walter Jones (knee) on Sunday, along with the possibility of offensive guard Rob Sims (oblique) missing time, the Seahawks once again will start a makeshift line for the team's fourth game of the season against Indianapolis. Seattle has yet to start all five of the projected starters along the offensive line for the 2009 campaign in one game this season, with injuries each week affecting the eventual starting lineup for game day.
A pleasant surprise for the team has been the play of Brandon Frye, a late addition to the squad when the team made final cuts. The Seahawks added Frye to the team's active roster after the Miami Dolphins cut him in early September. The move proved fruitful for Seattle, as Frye started against Chicago last week at left tackle because Jones could not go. Frye was solid, and also played through a strained groin he injured during the game.
With Jones and Locklear out, Frye is expected to start again on Sunday against Indianapolis, the first time in the 26-year-old's professional career that he will get consecutive starts. At 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, Frye doesn't have the kind of size to overwhelm opponents at tackle. But he does move his feet well and has good athleticism, both good traits for Seattle's zone blocking scheme.
"The way he fought through that (groin injury Sunday) against a really good right end in Alex Brown and did a nice job on him, says a lot about that kid's mental toughness," Mora said about Frye's performance against the Bears. "So my hat's off to him."
Coach Jim Caldwell doesn't hide his appreciation for what second-year wide receiver Pierre Garcon has accomplished over the first three games of the 2009 season. Garcon saw limited playing time as a rookie last year, mostly on special teams, after being a sixth-round draft choice in 2008 from Division III Mount Union College in Ohio.
After catching just four passes for 23 yards a year ago, he has become one of the Colts' big-play threats this season with seven receptions for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns (48 yards for the game-winner against Miami and another of 53 yards last week at Arizona). "(Garcon's development) is a work in progress. It is one of those things, a lot of people have seen, and I think we've talked about it from time-to-time, that we thought we had two good, young receivers coming along and making real good strides. That you could see in practice before they had an opportunity to perform in games, and now you're starting to see a little bit of it. But the fact of the matter is, that's sort of the tip of the iceberg," Caldwell said.
"All the work started way back when. Pierre, this is his second year. For (rookie receiver) Austin Collie, it started way back in the spring with intense sessions in a select group and work with Peyton on some one-on-one things and things of that nature. They are starting to bear some fruit from the hard work they've put in, but every day and every week you have to go out and prove yourself over and over again, and today is no different for those young guys."
Especially for a guy like Garcon, who excelled against smaller schools as a collegiate senior. The question was could he raise his game to a higher level.
"I don't think there is any question that there is a difference (in levels of competition). There is a speed factor, but that's something oftentimes it takes a little awhile to get adjusted to. Pierre seems to have adjusted fairly well," Caldwell said.
Garcon, though, is still learning what it means to be a player in the NFL. As quiet as he is off the field, he has sometimes allowed his enthusiasm to get the best of him during games. "Certainly, I think that is just part of the maturity and understanding the situation. He's a tough, hard-nosed competitor, and he's a quiet guy, but when he gets on the field, he loves to mix it up, and sometimes you have to be able to control that," Caldwell said. "That's part of the business. Within this landscape, you have to be under control, you have to keep your poise. We don't believe in getting a lot of penalties, because they'll hurt you in the long run in a tight ballgame.
"So, we do have to have discussions with him on those things. We talk and say, 'Hey, listen, we are not trying to dampen your enthusiasm, your aggressiveness or anything of that nature, it's just the extracurricular is what we don't need.' So, we try to keep it in that vein, but yet, keep him just as fired up, just as hard-nosed and tough as he wants to be, but let's keep it within the rules."