Allen and Fleener, Among Others, Should Play Sunday
After the Colts added a fourth tight end to the active roster, many speculated that either Dwayne Allen or Coby Fleener might not be ready to play in Sunday’s opener against the Raiders. Chuck Pagano quickly put those fears to rest yesterday when asked if there was any concern, saying, “They’re both going to be ready.”
“I’m expecting to play,” said Allen, who missed all four preseason games. “I’m not sure how much right now. Coach is going to work me in slowly, and see where we go from there.”
No player likes missing time on the field, but Allen has made the most of it, observing his teammates, and spending extra time learning the playbook. “That’s one thing with sitting out, I’ve been able to be in my playbook a little bit more,” he said. “Instead of actually running through routes, I’ve been able to watch and listen and really gather a lot more information than I could have if I was out there on the field. I’m not going to say I’ve mastered it just yet, but I’m well on my way.”
Coby Fleener, who has missed two preseason games, said it will be nice for the duo to take the field together again. “It will be nice,” Fleener said. “Whether it’s Dwayne being down with something or me being down with something, we’ve kind of missed each other a little bit in preseason. It’s always nice to have him out there, because he’s a constant threat. It makes my job easier.”
Starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo and second-string linebacker Kavell Conner sat out practice yesterday and both are day to day. However, Castonzo is expected to be ready to go on Sunday. Pagano said the reason Castonzo wasn’t practicing was that he, ““Just needs another day. We’re just erring on the side of caution.”
Terrell Pryor, Man of Mystery
Since Pryor’s dismissal from Ohio State, he’s been under the radar, going to the Raiders in the 2011 Supplemental Draft and tallying a career stat line of 4 games, 1 start, 14/30 for 155 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 int, 10 carries for 51 yards, and a QB rating of 70.8.
Of course, all that was under a different coach, in a different offensive system. Naturally, watching useful film on Pryor is a bit difficult. But is it even necessary? Reports from the Bay Area name Pryor as the starter while Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen would prefer not to say either way. “Yeah, I haven’t made any announcement nor will I make any type of announcement on who our starting quarterback is going to be,” he said in a conference call. “Both those guys are preparing, getting ready to play. Their job is to be ready and be prepared whenever they’re called on.”
Someone asked Allen if he was confident about his quarterback situation, or if there was some uncertainty. “I’m confident,” he said. “I feel good about it. All those guys at some point got their opportunity, got their start, got their chance, and they were able to make the most of it so I’m confident in that and everybody has got to start somewhere.”
The Raiders official depth chart lists their starting quarterback as “15 M. Flynn/2 T. Pryor.” Not announcing a starter gives the Colts two entirely different players for which to prepare. Matt Flynn is more of a traditional pocket passer (he has 14 career rushing yards on 35 carries if anyone is curious), while Pryor is a dual threat and a bit of a wild card.
If the Raiders come out of the gate with Pryor at quarterback, it’s likely he’ll be running some form of read option. What isn’t known is whether he’s any good at it. Will he be the next Colin Kaepernick? The next…Blaine Gabbert? (That’s no slight to Gabbert. He’s young and has struggled). Will he just sit on the bench while Matt Flynn starts?
If the Colts do see the read option, they will be certain to treat Pryor – or whoever it may be – as they would a running back when he’s carrying the ball. “That’s how the rule reads now,” said Pagano of the quarterback being fair game on an option play. “They’re very specific, and they were very specific with us in the offseason at the owners’ meetings, when the NFL officials came to training camp. As long as that guy’s running an option play and he’s involved in that option play, then he’s considered a runner. And he does not garner the protection that a normal quarterback who drops back to pass, the protection that he’s awarded based on the rules.
“There’s a fine line there. Read option, a guy takes it and he hands it off and he backs away and doesn’t carry out a fake, can you go hit that guy? Obviously not. So we’ve educated our guys on that and we’ll practice that this week and for weeks to come.”
Defensive end Cory Redding weighed in on the matter of hitting quarterbacks on option plays. “If he has the ball, yes,” Redding said. “If he don’t have the ball, if the fullback got it, kick the crap out of him. But at the end of the day, be where you’re supposed to be and be disciplined. If you got the dive, take the dive. If you got the quarterback, take the quarterback, and everybody else, follow suit. That’s the key to stopping the read offense.” That is, if they face the read offense.
Andrew Luck, talking to the Oakland media about Darrius Heyward-Bey: “Really awesome teammate. Tireless worker; very, very hard worker, that’s been very impressive. Obviously, he has all the athletic attributes; he’s a football player. I think he’s going to do great things for us this season, and personally I’m very glad to get a chance to play with him.”
Raiders back Darren McFadden on Heyward-Bey: “DHB, he’s a great guy. I loved playing with him. He’s a great receiver. Just having a guy like him that can stretch the field, that’s a great asset to any team.”
McFadden again, on being in a similar situation to the 2012 Colts, with no one outside their locker room expecting much: “Yeah, like you said, people don’t expect us to do much at all. But just from what we have here and being inside these four walls, we know what we can do out here. So we’re going to go out there and surprise a lot of people.”
Cory Redding on if he’s ever consciously stopped himself from hitting someone on the field: “No. No, you can’t, not as a defender. No. I don’t care. At the end of the day, officials are going to officiate. Like I said, players got to play. You can’t be hesitant out there and slow down; you just got to play football.”
Robert Mathis on whether the speed of the game changes from preseason to the regular season: “I wouldn’t say that, because like I said, if you’re not giving 100 percent no matter when you touch the field, then you’re short-changing yourself. The real season is here so it’s time to go.”
Chuck Pagano on whether he ever got any football players’ autographs when he was a kid: “Yeah. Barney Chavous. Tom Jackson. Orange crush, my favorite. Grew up in Colorado, liked the Broncos. Went to a camp and those guys were there and got their autograph. That was a pretty big deal.”
I’d like to know who thought to ask him that. It was out of left field, but interesting. Chavous was a defensive end with Denver, and Jackson, yes, the one on ESPN, was an outside linebacker. Even as a kid, Chuck Pagano was a big fan of defense.
Coby Fleener on the excitement of the players heading into the first regular season game: “Absolutely. I think this practice will be amped up a little bit more than usual. Everyone is ready to get going. We’re pretty excited.”
Pagano, also discussing the attitude of excitement around the team complex: “Absolutely. You could tell in the meetings this morning. Different kind of buzz around here. Different feel. Dewitt (team chef) had real bacon out there not turkey bacon. He’s on point. Plenty of eggs and sausage, the real McCoy. There’s a heightened level of enthusiasm, excitement, but the focus is what I love.”
I, too, associate excitement with real bacon. Is it game time yet?
All quotes are courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts PR Department.