NFL NOTEBOOK: Caldwell to play 'healthy' starters
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Reggie Wayne and Peyton Manning want to keep playing this season. Or at least this week.
Apparently, Colts coach Jim Caldwell has heard their pleas.
Yesterday, Caldwell walked into his regular news conference and announced the team's "healthy" starters would play Thursday night at Jacksonville.
"We're going to approach the 14th game exactly like we did one through 13," Caldwell said. "The only thing that would deter anyone from playing is a health issue."
With 34 or 35 days between the last significant regular-season game and Indianapolis' next meaningful game in the divisional round, there is concern the Colts may get rusty.
If Bruce Gradkowski is unable to start at quarterback for Oakland, coach Tom Cable isn't quite ready to name former starter JaMarcus Russell as his No. 1 against the Broncos.
Gradkowski missed the second half of Sunday's 34-13 loss to the Washington Redskins with a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee and a partially torn MCL in his right knee. Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, returned to the field for the first time since losing his starting job last month but was unable to get the Raiders' offense moving.
Cable said he considers third-stringer Charlie Frye as an option this week if Gradkowski is unable to go Sunday.
Coach Eric Mangini said he's willing to explore using Josh Cribbs, Cleveland's versatile playmaker, more in a traditional running back role. Cribbs ran for 87 yards out of the wildcat formation in a victory Thursday against the Steelers, who came in with the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense.
Linebacker DeMarcus Ware (neck) could play Saturday night, an encouraging sign after a scary headfirst collision that left him sprawled on the field for several anxious minutes.
Receiver Kevin Curtis, out since Week 2 with a knee injury, could return for Sunday's home game with the San Francisco 49ers. Curtis would replace rookie receiver Jeremy Maclin, whose left foot was reinjured Sunday night against Giants. Maclin could be out for two weeks or more.
Jacksonville has avoided a blackout for the first time this season. The Jaguars' home finale against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night will be televised locally and in secondary markets. The small-market franchise had blacked out their previous nine home games, including two in the preseason.
First Published December 15, 2009 12:00 am