Browns hope Sorgi leads Colts to victory
When’s the last time you saw an Indianapolis Colts No. 12 Jim Sorgi jersey in the Dawg Pound?
This might be the time.
Sorgi holds the Browns’ playoff future in his hands, needing to steer Indianapolis to a win over the Titans on Sunday night for Cleveland to make the playoffs.
The 27-year-old Michigan native will play at least the second half, since the Colts don’t need to win to improve their playoff seeding. Peyton Manning will play as little as two series and as much as two quarters.
Then, the Browns need Sorgi to be Superman.
“From what I remember, Jim’s a smart guy,’’ Browns defensive end Simon Fraser said.
Sorgi threw a touchdown pass against Ohio State as a Wisconsin quarterback in 2002, when Fraser was a Buckeye. In 2003, Sorgi spent his only season as Wisconsin’s No. 1 quarterback.
In 2004, the Colts drafted him in Round 6, and he has been stuck behind Manning, a latter-day Kelly Holcomb.
“Hopefully, he’s been able to absorb and meditate and learn from everything Peyton Manning’s been able to do,’’ Fraser said. “But it’s not one man who’s going to do it. The Indianapolis Colts have to do it.’’
Sorgi has relieved Manning before at this time of year. In a 2005 season finale, he went 20-of-30 for 207 yards and two touchdowns in a 17-13 win over Arizona.
The Colts like the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Sorgi well enough to have signed him through the 2010 season.
Don’t like the idea of wearing a Sorgi jersey? Anthony Gonzalez’s No. 11 is a Colts jersey that might fit better in Cleveland.
Gonzalez played for Ignatius High School before going to Ohio State. There’s no question “Gonzo’’ can gore the Titans. This month, he had a six-catch, 134-yard game at Baltimore and a seven-catch, 86-yarder at Oakland.
The question is whether the Colts will choose to rest a foot injury that has nagged the sure-handed wideout. Last Sunday against Houston, Gonzalez caught just two passes for 22 yards.
The Browns might catch a break because of an injury situation involving future Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison. He is ready to come back after missing the last nine games with a knee problem.
Coach Tony Dungy wants Manning and Harrison to get in sync before he playoffs and might extend Manning’s playing shift for that reason.
Having clinched the No. 2 seed, though, Dungy is positioning the Colts for a playoff opener after a first-round bye.
That means using starters enough to keep them in tune, but removing them early enough to avoid injuries.
One backup whose playing shift figures to expand is rookie defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock. A third-round pick out of Ohio State, Pitcock has been getting playing time in the second half of the season. He has been in on 18 tackles and two sacks.
The Colts have enough defensive line backups to rest all four starters in the second half.
At least two starters will have to stay in on the offensive line. The three backups who are likely to play should scare Browns fans. They include:
- Left tackle Michael Toudouze, formerly undrafted out of Texas Christian.
- Guard-center Dylan Gandy, a Round 4 pick out of Texas Tech in 2005.
It could help that the Colts have forgotten how to lose. They have won six straight games and can finish with 14 wins for the first time in franchise history.
“I think we’re going to come out and play well,’’ Dungy said. “We’re going to try to do everything we can to finish 14-2 and finish 7-1 at home.”
Dungy said all of his healthy starters will start. Because only 42 non-specialists dress on game days, some will play most of the game.
“I have some friends over on that staff,’’ Dungy said. “I’d like to see (Cleveland) get in the playoffs. I’ve got some friends on Tennessee’s staff, too.
“It’s one of those things you can’t worry about it. I don’t think our players can worry about it.’’
What if the Colts lose to Tennessee because of backups?
“You feel badly in a way,’’ Dungy said, “but it’s the way the schedule works out.”
The Browns have no plans to watch the Titans-Colts game as a team. All of them will be watching somewhere. Right tackle Kevin Shaffer said his wife is tuned into football and will be watching with him.
“Regardless of who the Colts have on the field,’’ Shaffer said, “I think it’s obvious they’re gonna try to win the game.
“It’ll be interesting. Of course we’ll be rooting for ‘em.’’
Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail email@example.com.