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Today, we’ll talk Chuck Pagano, the threat posed by a losing team, and a few items of statistical miscellany. All quotes come from the Indianapolis Colts PR Department. And on we go, to the Notebook:
Chuck Pagano Expected to Return
The big news from the Colts yesterday was that Dr. Larry Cripe, Head Coach Chuck Pagano’s doctor at the IU Cancer Center has cleared him to go back to work. He should be able to return on Monday so he can be back on the sideline, coaching the Colts in their season finale December 30th, which has been his and the team’s goal for much of the season.
“We are so blessed to have a leader like Chuck,” said Guard Joe Reitz. We’ve all been praying for him and are glad that things have gone well. I think we all look forward to the day when he’s back in there, hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Any Given Sunday, as Usual
The Colts will be trying to bounce back from a tough loss again week as they travel to Arrowhead Stadium to play the Chiefs, who will be trying to recover from a thoroughly disappointing performance in Oakland. Last week, Kansas City kept the hapless Raiders out of the end zone but were blanked 15-0, gaining only 119 yards on offense and failing to even gain a first down until late in the third quarter (5:32 remaining).
Its win and they’re in the playoffs for the Colts, while the Chiefs will be playing for jobs and pride – two motivational factors that are not to be underestimated. The Colts will be facing a strong pass rush, which plays into their biggest area of concern – their offensive line, and despite some anemic outings, the Chiefs’ offense is still stocked with a few playmakers. In the NFL, every team is a threat, even one that looks horrid on paper.
“They’ve got some good players,” said Safety Tom Zbikowski. “Their record definitely doesn’t reflect the kind of talent that they have on the team. They’ve been playing well lately. They’ve got some playmakers. Obviously, with (Dwayne) Bowe being out they are going to have to have some players step up. They have a good run game and they’ve got good skill players. They definitely have a very good defense also so we are going to have to hold up our end.”
Of course, the real focus of the Chiefs’ offense is the running game, another zone-blocking rushing attack, this time led by Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster. “Yeah, they’re good,” said ILB Jerrell Freeman of the Chiefs’ running backs. They run a lot of stretch, like we just played, a lot of cutback. Then you put in 40 and he’s a big, power guy. It’ll be a good challenge but it’ll be fun.”
“I’ll tell you, playing there for six years it was a great place to play, great fans, great atmosphere,” Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky said of Kansas City. “But from a player’s perspective, they’ve got a good offensive line, they’ve got a good running game and we’ve got to make sure we control those two things.”
If the Colts can contain the Chiefs’ run game, they will be taking away the focal point of their offense, and they don’t have a particularly strong passing attack. If they Colts players mean what they keep saying about not taking the 2-12 Chiefs lightly, if it isn’t just lip service and saying the right things, the Colts should be able to win and lock up a spot in the playoffs on Sunday. They can’t afford to forget they’re playing an opponent with little left to lose who will be fighting for everything they have left to gain.
Odds and Ends and Statistical Miscellany
Andrew Luck can move into a tie for second place in touchdowns by a rookie quarterback (22 by late New York Giant Charlie Conerly) and could tie Peyton Manning’s all-time rookie record (26 TDs) if he throws three touchdowns in each of his next two games. Manning’s record for most interceptions as a rookie looks safe (hopefully) for now at 28.
Luck can also pass Carolina’s Cam Newton’s rookie record for most yards thrown by a rookie quarterback with just 74 yards on Sunday. Let’s hope he can knock that one out early in the game for the sake of the offense.
If he can get three receptions on Sunday, Reggie Wayne will become only the 5th NFL player in history to have at least four seasons of 100 catches or more.
Antoine Bethea’s next tackle will be the 800th of his career, and with six more, DE Cory Redding will reach 450 for his career, according to the Colts.
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