KEYS TO THE GAME: The Colts would give anything for a vintage offensive performance, and the play of the Panthers defense of late could make this Indy's best shot at a win. One requirement: No turnovers. The Colts are minus-10 in turnover ratio and QB Curtis Painter has had a deer-in-headlights look in recent outings. Getting RB Joseph Addai, the team's best pass blocker, back would help if his hamstring allows. Panthers QB Cam Newton has become turnover prone in his own right -- 16 overall and six in his last two games -- and the Colts can keep pressure on him. If Newton and the Panthers keep the ball on the ground, they can put the Colts on the ropes before looking for the KO punch.
FAST FACTS: Carolina is averaging 5.0 yards per carry. ... The Colts have a combined total of 26 points in the first and third quarters this season.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Panthers starting wide receiver Legedu Naanee missed practice Thursday after developing soreness in his ankle.
Naanee had practiced on Wednesday but was sore when he arrived to work on Thursday and sat out as a precautionary measure. His status for this week's game remains unclear.
Naanee has been the team's starting receiver opposite Steve Smith all year but has yet to catch a touchdown pass from Cam Newton.
If Naanee can't play Sunday against the Colts, second-year man Brandon LaFell would get the start. LaFell has played well this season for the Panthers as the third receiver. It could also mean some action for rookie receiver Kealoha Pilares, who returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown last week.
In other injury news on that side of the ball, tight end Jeremy Shockey will start this week after missing last week's game with sore ribs.
The Indianapolis Colts, despite the statistics, still have a formidable group of talented receivers.
Veterans such as Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez can still make plays and be major contributors to the Colts' offense.
That is, they can be major contributors if given an opportunity.
But with the state of the Indianapolis offense as it currently stands, with an inconsistent quarterback -- Curtis Painter -- at the controls and a hit-and-miss running game, finding a way to get the football on a regular basis to the team's receivers remains a major issue.
According to Colts coach Jim Caldwell, Wayne and the remainder of the team's receiving corps knew that when starter Peyton Manning (neck fusion surgery) was sidelined before the start of the season that things would certainly be different this year.
"(The Colts coaches talked to the receivers) a long time ago. We have a pretty decent feel of our team; who we have and what the situations are and what the strengths are. That was a while back. Nothing's changed since then. It's just been a little bit different," Caldwell said recently, acknowledging that it would be natural for a little frustration to seep through.
"I'm not certain competitors ever get to the point of resignation. They always want the ball, which they should. They always think they can do more, which they should feel that way. That's probably where they are. Highly-competitive individuals with a great desire to excel and play well and play hard and win. So you can anticipate a little bit of that (frustration)."
When it comes to Wayne, who is in the final year of his contract, and the remainder of the Colts' receiving corps, the current state of the team's offense has forced them to concentrate more on being wide blockers instead of wide receivers.
"(We're) running the ball a little bit more, obviously. And we certainly haven't been converting as many third downs as we'd like to keep drives going so our opportunities (to throw the ball) have been limited," the Indianapolis coach said.
--DE Charles Johnson returned to practice full Thursday after missing practice Wednesday with a sore shoulder. He was hit in the back of the shoulder last week against Detroit but managed to play through the pain.
--LB James Anderson returned to practice full Thursday and is expected to play this week against the Colts.
--LB Jason Phillips practiced on a limited basis and has a chance to play this week.
--LB Dan Connor practiced on a limited basis Thursday and is likely to play this week against the Colts. He missed last week with a stinger.
--TE Jeremy Shockey practiced full and will play this week.
--WR Legedu Naanee did not practice Thursday due to a sore ankle.
--FB Fui Vakapuna was released from the practice squad. Vakapuna is in his third NFL season after originally being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
--RB Darren Evans, who was waived off the Colts' active roster on Tuesday, has been re-signed to the team's practice squad. Evans is an undrafted rookie from Virginia Tech.
--TE Dallas Clark (fibula) has not practiced since suffering his injury against Atlanta three weeks ago. Clark is not expected to play against the Panthers on Sunday.
--RB Joseph Addai (hamstring) practiced fully Wednesday and Thursday. A final decision on his availability for Sunday's game with Carolina is not expected until the end of the week.
--DT Drake Nevis (back) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Nevis' availability for Sunday's game with Carolina won't be determined until the end of the week.
--TE Brody Eldridge (hand) saw limited work on Wednesday and did not practice on Thursday. Eldridge is expected to be a game-time decision on Sunday.
--OG Joe Reitz (knee) had limited work on Thursday after seeing no practice Wednesday. Reitz will most likely be a game-time decision.
--WR Anthony Gonzalez (groin) had limited practice work Wednesday and Thursday. Gonzalez will be a game-time decision on Sunday.
--LB Adrian Moten (illness) did not practice on Thursday but is expected to be available for Sunday's game with Carolina.