Know Your Opponent: Indianapolis Colts (Week 4)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Each year when the schedule is released, you can go ahead and circle each of the six divisional games. If any NFL team hopes to wear the divisional crown at season's end, that six-pack of annual contests is crucial.

The Titans AFC South slate begins this Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts. Both teams enter the game with a 1-2 record.  The Colts got their first win of the season after a 0-2 start with a 44-17 bruising of the Jaguars last Sunday.

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Indianapolis is looking for a three-peat as the AFC South Champions. Between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, the Colts franchise quarterbacks have reigned supreme, winning the division for 13 of the past 15 years.

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and Luck held their respective conference calls with Titans media Wednesday. Here are the talking points that you need to know about the Titans week four opponent.

Reggie's Return

In his 14th season in Indianapolis, Reggie Wayne continues to prove himself as a timeless playmaker. Wayne leads the team with 188 receiving yards on 16 receptions.

The likely future Hall-of-Famer has spent his entire career with the Colts, amassing 13,754 receiving yards and 80 touchdowns. Wayne's monster seasons have sent him to Hawaii six times as a Pro Bowler while being named First-Team All-Pro in 2010.

Most impressively, Wayne tore his ACL in week seven of last year, ending a streak of 11 consecutive seasons playing all 16 games. Even at 35, Wayne has rehabbed his way back into form.

"Reggie obviously is a future Hall of Famer. Everything he does is first class. I learned so much from him my rookie year and to have him back and rolling is huge. He's such a steady presence and a great football player."

Luck added that Wayne played a major part in his success as a rookie on all levels.

"He was huge. To learn from, to learn how to be a pro, and then that 'all hell is breaking loose where is Reggie?' sometimes on the field. He was sort of a comfort blanket and he does such a great job at getting open in critical situations."

Pagano agreed when I asked if he felt like Wayne's talent was timeless.

"It sure seems like it," Pagano started. "Coming off an ACL at 34 or 35 years old and coming out and still being productive and running routes and catching balls and doing all those kinds of things. That's a testament to Reggie and his work ethic and his passion for football. He's just one of those guys that if he could play forever I'm sure he would."

Continued Growth of Andrew Luck

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Andrew Luck left Stanford as the one of the top prospects in the history of the NFL Draft in the eyes of many scouts. It almost seems unfair that the Colts transitioned from Peyton Manning straight to Andrew Luck with the first overall pick in 2012.

In addition to his run of two straight Pro Bowl seasons to begin his career, Luck also has a remarkable 11 fourth quarter come-from-behind victories in his first two seasons (two of which came against the Titans in 2012).

Through three weeks this season, Luck leads the league in passing touchdowns with nine, completions with 86, and is third in yards with 912. The Colts franchise quarterback has been everything Indianapolis has hoped for and then some.

Luck said his comfort level continues to grow with each passing week.

"I'd like to think I'm better," Luck joked at first. "The experience definitely helps - game experience, understanding defenses, the speed of the game, the situational football, third down, red zone. I do feel like I have more of a mastery of what's going on on offense and a much better understanding of what defenses are trying to do and how we're built to attack defenses."

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29th Ranked Defense**

The Colts enter Sunday's game with the 29th ranked overall defense (17th rush, 28th pass), allowing 111.3 yards per game on the ground and 276.3 yards per game through the air.

Part of the struggles could be attributed to Indy's two-game gauntlet to begin the season. The Colts opened their campaign against Peyton Manning in week one, followed by a meeting with the high-powered Eagles offense in week two.

Regardless of the reason for the defensive woes, the numbers are a long ways from Coach Pagano's goals for the unit.

"Certainly our goals are to be a top five defense," Pagano said. "We've played some very good offenses and gave up a lot of yards. We held an opponent [Jaguars] last week to 50 yards at half and ended up giving up over 300 in the game. That's something we certainly don't want to do. We're not where we want to be but we're going to keep working until we get there."

Offensive Weaponry

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The Colts feature a one-two running back combination with Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw. The team traded a first-round pick for Richardson in 2013 and brought in Bradshaw as a free agent. Richardson leads the team in rushing yards with 156 while Bradshaw has 114 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.

"They're starting to hit their stride. The offensive line is doing a heck of a job. They both run so hard and are very dynamic – can catch the ball, can block, and do a lot of things. They're fun guys to play with," Luck said of his running backs.

T.Y. Hilton is the team's best deep threat and has 186 receiving yards through three games. In each of his first two NFL seasons, Hilton has recorded a reception of at least 60 yards. The Colts receiver did leave last week's game with an ankle injury but Pagano said he'd be good to go come Sunday.

"He's dynamic, fast, explosive and truly a playmaker. He is turning into a well-rounded receiver and a very good football player," said Luck.

In addition to Wayne, the Colts also get back third-year tight end Dwayne Allen from a season-ending injury in 2013. Allen has eight receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns this season. Tight end Coby Fleener, and free agent signing Hakeem Nicks round out the Colts arsenal.

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