The Colts practiced yesterday after the players’ usual Tuesday off. Bruce Arians and a handful of players answered questions about Chuck Pagano, roster moves, and the Detroit Lions among other things. Quotes and roster information are provided courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts Public Relations Department.
Colts Injury Updates, Roster Moves, and Josh Chapman
Offensive Coordinator/Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians talked to the media today about the team’s recent roster moves, two new players who practiced with the team for the first time yesterday in his opening statement. He also talked a bit about the decision to send much anticipated rookie nose tackle Josh Chapman to the Injured Reserve list.
“I think everybody realizes that we have elected to put Josh Chapman on IR for the rest of the season,” he began. “Chapman, he made the ultimate sacrifice last year giving that leg up for a championship and we’re not going to press him. We’ve got a lot invested in him and we think he’s going to be a great football player.
"There’s just been a little bit too much, a little bit of pain when he’s tried to practice so we just want to get him well and then go into the offseason so we can have him fully healthy for next year.”
It’s difficult to truly gage what went into the Chapman’s and his coach’s decision for him to continue playing football with a torn ACL last year. It looks clear to outside observers, however, that the Colts’ approach has been one of caution, with the player’s long-term future in mind.
“We’ve added a couple guys to our roster,” Arians continued, “Delano Howell and Kellen Heard, who will start practicing with us today and they’re here and in meetings and the beat goes on as far as we’re concerned with injuries and that thing. The injuries will never be used as an excuse and it’s the next man up in every position. So we’re looking forward to having these guys join our fight right now.”
Kellen Heard is a 6’ 6”, 339-pound nose tackle who most recently appeared in 8 games for the Rams, a team that runs a 4-3 defense. Howell, a 5’ 11” 201 pound undrafted rookie safety from Stanford was picked up off the Buffalo Bill’s practice squad.
On who fills in for DE Fili Moala, who also went on IR this week, Arians said, “Right now Ricardo (Mathews) will move over, and Clifton Geathers will back him up.” And as for CB Vontae Davis and TE Coby Fleener, he added, “Vontae will practice today and we’ll see how he goes. I don’t know if we can ask him to go out there and play 60 plays in this game. Hopefully by the end of the week, he’ll be able to take that load. But he’s ready to go, Coby (Fleener) is ready to go and basically other than that, we’re healthy.”
Guarding Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson, in his 6th year out of Georgia Tech, is a force to be reckoned with at wide receiver. Nicknamed Megatron by some, Johnson is a nearly tight end-sized receiver at 6-5, 236 pounds, yet still possesses blazing speed. He ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine in 2007. Johnson already has 27 catches of 20 or more yards with five games remaining this season, averages 17.2 yards per catch and is a formidable matchup for even the best of NFL defenses.
The Colts have their work cut out for them this week as they prepare to contain Detroit’s star receiver. “That’s one of those guys that you say, well you just try and contain him,” said Outside Linebacker Dwight Freeney. “You try to stop him but if you can’t, just contain him. Obviously, he’s used to the attention now and we are definitely focused on him.”
Cornerback Darius Butler said playing fundamentally sound football is important when dealing with a player like Johnson. “You just have to be on your Ps and Qs, your fundamentals and techniques,” he said. “Obviously he has a size mismatch on pretty much any (defensive back) out there but you just have to put yourself in a position to make a play on the ball.” The Colts will be looking to do just that against the Lions and their offensive centerpiece on Sunday.
A Few Good Quotes on Chuck Pagano and the Team’s Identity
Chuck Pagano, the likeable coach, family man, and master of motivation, has been away now since the Colts’ week four bye, fighting something far greater than what anyone ever faced on a football field. The players and coaching staff have bonded together under the common cause of honoring their head coach through his battle with leukemia. Along the way, the fans, media, cheerleaders, and even coaches and players from other teams have all found ways to show their support for Coach Pagano.
The team’s goal remains to have him back on the sideline as the head coach for their December 30th season finale, and they hope to make the playoffs to extend this storybook season for him. Yesterday, Arians and a couple of the players talked about Pagano and the team’s identity as it relates to him.
Quarterback Andrew Luck on the team building an identity for their head coach: “Yeah, I think so. Coach built a great foundation before he had to take this leave. I think a big focus of ours is making sure we stay on that same path. I think every week, win or loss, forging character, if you will, in trying to be that team he wants us to be.”
Dwight Freeney, also on Pagano and the team’s identity: “I think so. It’s really banding together and relying on each other. Sometimes it’s going to be the (offense) that wins it. Sometimes it’s going to the (defense) that wins it, special teams. Just pass the baton, next guy up, and be ready for a big game. Whoever it is, just be ready to perform.”
Bruce Arians on what being able to attend games does for Chuck Pagano: “It’s unbelievable medicine. Being around football, I think is one of the things that’s getting him well. The more he can be in the building and be around the guys when it’s not detrimental to his health, it’s unbelievable medicine for him.
“Being able to break down film and doing all the things that he’s doing at the house, and then texting guys saying, ‘Hey you played this play pretty good but you didn’t play that play pretty good,’ the little thing with T.Y. (Hilton), stretch and cut. Those things are a fabulous medicine to help a person get well. You have to have a reason to want to get well, and when you have one as strong as this, it’s great medicine.”
Arians on what has stuck with the players most: “Because they love Chuck (Pagano), and what he means and what he stands for. He’s in communication with the guys all the time texting. I kind of preach it every week so we’re never going to forget that. That’s the one thing we want to do and I think that’s what’s bonded our football team.”
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