On scenic West 56th St in Indianapolis, the Colts spoke with the media Monday as they prepared for their Thursday night showdown with division rival Jacksonville. Bruce Arians and the players discussed Chuck Pagano, the offensive line, the upcoming matchup and more. Quotes and information are provided courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts Public Relations Department.
Pagano in Remission Heading into his Next Round of Treatment
Yesterday, it was announced that Colts Coach Chuck Pagano’s leukemia was in remission. He still has more treatment coming and will start his second round of chemotherapy this week. The fight is far from over, but in a fight against cancer, good news is always welcome.
Offensive Coordinator/Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians said Pagano visited the team complex Monday, a day after giving an emotional postgame speech to his players and staff at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Arians opened the media session by talking about Pagano. “First off,” he said, “Chuck (Pagano) just stopped in, he’s getting ready, I’m not sure of the proper medical terms but they put in a stint of some sort to start his chemo again. His count was great. He knows that this next one is going to be really tough and we’re praying for him and he’s going to be fine. Once he comes back from round two and is about to head into round three, our goal is for him to be on the sideline December 30.
If the team continues their winning ways, that final home game on December 30th against the Houston Texans could take on a much greater meaning than many people imagined before this season began. Having Pagano on the sideline for such a game could be a tremendous lift for this young team, one that cannot truly be quantified.
Offensive Line Making Strides
The Colts offensive linemen have faced some issues this season, not the least of which is injuries. This week, though, Bruce Arians felt good about the line’s performance against the Miami Dolphins’ exceptional front seven. “They played outstanding,” said Arians. “Both tackles threw shutouts.
“The only side that came against them I think we just held them far too long, neither one was blocking the other side. But they played outstanding not only in the passing game but in the running game also, and it’s a really good front.”
As they have searched for consistency and continuity, the unit has dealt with a steady dose of injuries. Sunday’s game was no exception, forcing players like Center A. Q. Shipley and Tackle Bradley Sowell to step in and be the next man up.
One of those players, Guard Joe Reitz, started this week in place of the injured Jeff Linkenbach after his own lengthy injury rehabilitation. Reitz talked about the challenge of blocking for Quarterback Andrew Luck and his uncanny ability to extend plays when things go wrong. “We give a lot of credit to him first off because he continues to do great things back there,” he said about the mobile rookie.
“He can make up for a lot of mistakes,” Reitz continued. “He’s so athletic and can move around that a play is never over. As linemen, we have to sustain our blocks and make sure that we are blocking to the whistle every play because you never know what’s going to happen back there.”
Short Week to Prepare and Recover
The Colts will fly to Jacksonville, Florida to play the Jaguars on Thursday Night Football. Bruce Arians and the coaching staff face a challenge getting the team ready to play on a very truncated schedule. The players also have less time to rest up and get back to 100% for the game. “The recovery time from Sunday to Thursday is ridiculous,” Arians said, “especially after playing a very physical game, and then to have to travel.
“When you add the travel in,” he continued, “you may get some swelling out of your body, but on that airplane, you’re going to swell right back up. It’s just happened too many times, I’ve seen guys that go in the game, get off the flight, and can’t walk. The traveling part of it is an added problem to an injury. So it’s tough.”
The team and coaches are ready for the challenge, though. Safety Antoine Bethea even brought up a positive side to the matter. When asked if the Thursday game presents a challenge, he said, “It does but once it’s done, you have a long week to rest up and prepare for the next opponent. Every team has it. You deal with it. Just get ready.”
On how long it usually takes to recover, Bethea added, “Sunday, walking into the stadium (laughs). It takes a couple of days. Around Friday, that’s when you’re really getting your legs back under you. Sunday when that whistle blows to kickoff, that’s when you’re really feeling the best you’re going to feel.”
Payback in Mind?
The last time the Colts and Jaguars played each other, Jacksonville snagged a last-minute victory, their only win of the season, on an 80-yard touchdown catch and run by Cecil Shorts III.
Inside Linebacker Pat Angerer, when asked if the Colts owe them one after that loss said, “Yeah, yeah we do. They kicked our butt twice last year and beat us once this year. Obviously, it would be really nice to get them.”
“That was a big game,” added Antoine Bethea. “It was a divisional game, a home game. We’re 5-3 now, if we’d won that game we’d be 6-2. What’s done is done. The next game is coming up Thursday. We have to go out and get a big win.”
A Few Good Quotes: Grading Luck
After his first eight games, many would agree that Andrew Luck looks like a special player, perhaps better so far than we could have imagined. Bruce Arians was asked what grade he would give Luck at midseason. Arians had a great deal to say about his young quarterback. “Probably an A,” he began. “There are only a few throws we’d like to have back from him. His overall performance has been outstanding. He’s kept us in games, he’s won games."
“The way he’s played in the two-minute phase of the game and the no-huddle phase now, has been way beyond his years,” Arians continued. “I thought this game especially in third down, the last two games he’s been dynamite on third down. That was one of the areas we were targeting to improve. Now he needs to work on getting physical as an offense. That’s about the only area where our statistics are only about 20-something. So we need to improve in that area.”
With the same question posed to him, Luck said, “I think they say ‘C’ is average so I’d give myself a ‘C.’”
“That doesn’t surprise me one bit,” Arians said of Luck's answer. “He’s comparing him to himself. I’m comparing him to all the rest of the guys I’ve ever had.” Such a compliment carries considerable meaning coming from a man who has coached the likes of Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning in his career.