INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Colts have a problem many NFL teams wish they had: Who to play after clinching a playoff spot with two games left in the regular season.
Indianapolis would like to use Sunday's game against the Cowboys as a measuring stick to gauge its progress and perhaps clean up some issues and tweak a few things. Instead, the Colts are shuffling through the depth chart due to late-season injuries, deciding who to rest and who to play.
Indianapolis will be without offensive linemen Hugh Thornton (knee), Gosder Cherilus (groin) and Joe Reitz (ankle) when they face the Cowboys on Sunday. T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) and Vontae Davis (groin) have been listed as questionable. Hilton injured his hamstring in Sunday's 17-10 win against the Texans and he did not practice this week.
"I feel 50/50," Hilton said. "I don't want to go out there and hurt the team when they could use the spot for somebody else. I don't have to be 100 (percent) to go out there and play, I could be (50/50) and if you give me the green light then I'll go."
Coach Chuck Pagano is holding Cherilus out for what he called the best interest of the team and Cherilus with the playoffs two weeks away. However, despite not practicing all week, Pagano expressed a desire to see his leading wide receiver take the field if he's able.
Hilton has caught 82 passes for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns this season. If he can't go, despite ailing tricep injuries, Reggie Wayne and company are prepared to put their best effort forward to build momentum during the final two weeks of the season.
"I'm expecting to play and play a whole game," Wayne said. "We've got two games left so you never know what can happen in these situations, as far as the seeding goes. ... We definitely want to go out there and fix some problems we've had the last few weeks. This will be a great opportunity to do it. Cowboys are more than a quality opponent."
Wayne has caught 59 passes for 665 yards and two touchdowns this season. The 14-year veteran has been in this situation before — clinched division with the playoffs right around the corner — and knows how delicate the juggling act between healing an injury and trying to head into the playoffs firing on all cylinders can be.
If Wayne decided to rest, and Hilton joined him and other starters trying to get back to full health, the Colts have plenty of depth, and they've relied on it many times this season.
"We've got enough tight ends, (running) backs, what not . there's enough skill position guys," Pagano said. "It's great to have guys that do that, move around."
Wayne is just as confident.
"We've got guys that can fill in," he said. "We have depth. We've got guys that can make it happen no matter what the situation is."