They're hurtin' for certain.
``We seem to get a few guys back, then we lose a couple more,'' Infante said.
When the Colts host the Eagles tomorrow night in a game that will carry playoff implications for each, Indianapolis probably will be forced to play without two offensive starters and five defensive regulars.
Pro Bowl quarterback Jim Harbaugh will miss his second straight start with a sore knee, and fullback Zack Crockett will miss his ninth after suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 6.
Also, Marshall Faulk, the Colts' two-time Pro Bowl running back, will play a ninth game that will be influenced by a dislocated toe he sustained in Week 2 against the New York Jets. The combination of the injury and an inconsistent offensive line has left Faulk clutching uncharacteristic numbers. He is averaging 39 yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry.
Defensively? It's getting easier to list the willing than the wounded. Expected to remain on the sideline against the Eagles are tackle Tony Siragusa (knee), linebackers Quentin Coryatt (chest) and Stephen Grant (knee), cornerback Ray Buchanan (thigh), starting strong safety David Tate (neck) and backup strong safety Derwin Gray (ankle).
After 13 games, only four players have started every week; 18 starters have missed a total of 56 starts.
Although there is no denying the impact the injuries have had on the Colts as they have attempted to build on last season's trip to the AFC title game, the team hasn't used its afflictions as a - pardon the pun - crutch.
``I won't now or ever use the injuries as an excuse,'' Infante said. ``You play the hand that is dealt you, and unfortunately, we have had a lot of injuries during the year.
``But we've battled through them before and we will battle through them again.''
That the Colts have maintained a playoff pulse in the face of their persistent injuries is a testament to their resiliency and reserve of talent. They are 5-1 in games decided by five or fewer points even though they have had a total of 41 players start at least one game.
While Coryatt, Grant, Siragusa, defensive end/ tackle Ellis Johnson, end Tony Bennett, Tate and Buchanan have battled injuries, the defense has benefited from quality play by rookie free-agent linebackers Sammie Burroughs and Steve Morrison, and Bernard Whittington, a third-year free agent who has started at three spots along the line. Morrison amassed 17 tackles when the Colts dropped an overtime decision at Buffalo on Oct. 6. Burroughs compiled a team-high 12 tackles in the team's 25-24 win at Dallas on Sept. 15.
And when Harbaugh went down two weeks ago with a sprained left knee, Paul Justin picked up the football and the slack. In Sunday's imperative, 13-10 overtime victory over Buffalo, Justin completed 22 of 40 passes for 228 yards, with no interceptions and very few mistakes.
``Paul did what a quarterback had to do in order for us to win the game,'' Infante said.
``When somebody goes down, other people have to step in and play,'' said Justin, a second-year undrafted free agent from Arizona State who was making his second career start. ``[Against Buffalo], I didn't want to go out there and be the reason we lost. I didn't want to go out there and just wing it around the field.
``I just wanted to give us a chance to win it at the end.''
That could serve as the team's postscript of the season. Despite the injuries and the weekly lineup alterations, the Colts (7-6) will enter tomorrow night's game tied with San Diego and Houston for the final AFC wild-card spot.
However, even a win over the Eagles won't ease the team's playoff concerns. Early-season stumbles have hurt its AFC tiebreaker considerations, and it closes the season with games at Kansas City (9-4) and Cincinnati (5-8).
A year ago at this time, the Colts also stood 7-6 before winning two of their final three games and securing the final wild-card spot.
``We've been battling for the playoffs for a long time now,'' Infante said. ``That victory [over Buffalo] was a big one, because we're still in the hunt. We still have a chance. There are a lot of teams out there that literally don't have a chance to get in. We're not in that group.
``We're back in the hunt. We have kept ourselves in position. If we keep playing like we did in the second half against Buffalo, anything's possible. We proved that last year and we can prove it again this year.''