Chuck’s back, and the Indianapolis Colts couldn’t be happier.
First-year head coach Chuck Pagano returned to take over the reins of the Colts Monday after missing most of the season. Pagano, who will be on the sidelines for Indianapolis’ regular-season home finale with Houston on Sunday, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in late September and has not been on the sidelines since a Sept. 23 home-game loss to Jacksonville.
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was Pagano’s hand-picked replacement. All he did was to lead Indianapolis to a 10-5 mark overall (9-3 under Arians) and a spot in the AFC playoffs as the fifth-seeded wild-card team.
“[Arians] was the first phone call I made on a Sunday after I was admitted into the hospital with this. I called him and told him of my circumstances. I asked him if he would lead this team and this ball club and this organization and take over the reins. And what a masterful job you did, Bruce. You carried the torch,” Pagano said during an emotional press conference, which also included players and members of the Colts’ coaching staff in the audience.
“And all you went out and all you did was to win nine ball games. And got us our 10th win [of the season Sunday]. And you got us into the playoffs. You did it with dignity and you did it with class. And you were everything that I always knew you were. And more. And the entire coaching staff, all the work that you’ve done and you’ve put in, I can’t thank you enough,” Pagano said.
“I’ll never be able to repay each and every one of you for the work that you’ve done. And to our players, for their effort and the work that they’ve put in, I told them [during a team meeting Monday morning] the sky’s the limit for this group. There’s just no quit. And that’s because of [Arians’] leadership. And I thank you, Bruce, and the entire staff.”
The Colts usually give the players a day off following a late-season win. But every one on the team’s roster was in attendance of this week’s Monday morning team meeting.
“We had a team meeting and was blessed to have everybody show up on a ‘Victory Monday.’ God bless’ em. I’m ready to go. As [Indianapolis-based cancer specialist Dr. Larry Cripe] told me. He said, ‘Be prudent. And be smart with how you attack this thing.’ I’ve still got a regimen to stick to,” Pagano said.
“There’s a plan for a couple of years. And then for a couple of years after that. This thing [the Colts’ season] is rolling pretty good. So, again, if I don’t just get in the way. I feel great. My weight’s back. My energy’s back. It’s just a blessing to be back here. Our time and energy has got to be into moving forward and getting ready for the ball game on Sunday.”
The first-year head coach was introduced by team owner Jim Irsay. General manager Ryan Grigson, who is also in his first season with the Colts, stood on the stage with Pagano and Irsay. Pagano’s immediate family sat in the first row of the audience.
“We couldn’t be more excited [about Pagano’s return],” Irsay said. “Chuck is ready for this challenge. The time is right for him to grab the reins and lead us on the [playoff] journey. It’s a miraculous story. It’s storybook. It’s real. I just couldn’t be happier. The key thing is that Chuck is healthy.”
Perhaps the most emotional moment of Pagano’s remarks came when the coach directed comments to his wife.
“The happiest day of my life was July 1, 1989, when I married my wife, Tina. I want to thank you,” he said, looking over at his family. “She slept on a cot next to my hospital bed every day that I was there. She’s a warrior. She never left my side. You got me through.”
He also thanked Colts front office and support personnel as well as his doctor and hospital employees for their help and support. Pagano also offered thanks to the media for respecting his family’s privacy during his time away from the team and to fans, especially those in Indianapolis.
“I can’t imagine a community embracing someone they hardly know,” he said. “I knew the day that Mr. Irsay offered me this job. I knew that it was a great place and a great organization.”
I I I
Hard act to follow — Pagano joked that following in Arians’ footsteps wouldn’t be an easy task.
“Damn, Bruce, you had to win nine games?,” he smiled. “He’s a tough act to follow. Best [interim coaching job performance] in NFL [history]. But I’ve got my hands full. I’ll try not to get in the way. I’m like a kid in the candy store.”
Pagano added that he was just glad that his keys to the Colts’ coaching staff parking lot worked after being away for so long.
“I pulled up, drove in and the key fob still worked,” he said.
Office light off — When Pagano first entered the hospital to begin the first of three rounds of chemotherapy treatments, Arians said that he was going to turn the light on in the head coach’s office and leave it on while he was away.
“Leaving the light on was the greatest gesture I ever heard of,” Pagano said. “Clips were installed so [the light] couldn’t be turned off.”
Advice to cancer patients — Pagano was asked about any advice he would give any one who was facing the same type of ordeal with cancer that he battled.
“To people with cancer, have support of your family,” he said. “Your attitude, the way you attack this thing. It all seems so doom and gloom. You have to battle every day. There are going to be good and bad days. To everyone out there, it’s your faith. Your belief. Your will. With that will, you can overcome anything.”
Chuck’s back, and the Indianapolis Colts couldn’t be happier.
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He understands their concerns, but isn’t worried about learning the intricacies Colts’ 3-4 hybrid package.
Colts in harmony with new coordinator Hamilton
With new Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton now running the show, the Colts are in the middle of a metamorphosis from the downfield, big-play system that was utilized by former coordinator Bruce Arians to more of a West Coast scheme that will look to make more use of the short, controlled passing game.
According to Andrew Luck, so far so good.
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Luck having fun with his first OTAs
A year ago, quarterback Andrew Luck was unable to attend the Indianapolis Colts’ organized team activity practices due to school commitments at Stanford.
Luck, though, went on to have a stellar year for the Colts despite the lack of summer work with the team. Still, in a sense, he is a rookie during this year’s OTA workouts.
“These are my first OTAs. I missed these last year, so I think it’s great. It’s great to get on the field with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff. Obviously, some of us ran some of this stuff [offense] at Stanford [under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton]. But to get out there with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff is good,” Luck said Wednesday as the team wrapped up its first week of on-field voluntary practice sessions.
Colts' coordinators enjoying getting rookies acclimated
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Colts hoping for more high marks on draft picks
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts received high marks for the impact players the team added through the NFL draft.
Of the 10 players selected, five ended up either starting or seeing extensive playing time (quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and running back Vick Ballard) during the Colts’ 11-5 season.
While this year’s class may not rival that group in terms of name recognition and flash, it may produce just as many major contributors once the 2013 season gets underway.
Werner at top of game
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Colts in wait-and-see mode for tonight’s NFL draft
As the 2013 NFL draft gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Indianapolis Colts are continuing their wait-and-see stance in regard to the first-round pick.
The draft begins at 8 p.m. — televised by the NFL Network and ESPN — with the Kansas City Chiefs making the night’s first selection. Teams will have 10 minutes to make their decisions during the first round. Indianapolis will have the 24th overall pick in the first round.
There will be only one round tonight. The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with seven minutes allotted per pick in the second round and five minutes allowed in the third. The final four rounds are slated to begin at noon Saturday with four minutes between selections.
As it stands now, Indianapolis does not have a second-round pick. It was traded to Miami last fall in exchange for veteran cornerback Vontae Davis. But second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has nut ruled out the possibility of trading down from the first round if the Colts aren’t satisfied with the players available.
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Heyward-Bey feeling fortunate to hook up with Luck
Add one more player to the list of veteran free agents signed by the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.
Former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey agreed to a a deal with the Colts late Monday evening. Bey, who played collegiately at Maryland, was the seventh player selected in the first round of the 2009 National Football League draft.
Colts sign nose tackle
Another day, more player signings for the Indianapolis Colts.
Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin agreed to terms with the Colts on Tuesday evening and officially signed with the team Wednesday. Franklin (6-1, 315) is a 10-year NFL veteran with stops in Baltimore (2003-06), San Francisco (2007-10), New Orleans (2011) and San Diego (2012).
Colts sign Matt Hasselbeck to back up Luck
The Indianapolis Colts’ roster moves just keep coming.
While the Colts haven’t yet added that big-name wide receiver that team owner Jim Irsay hinted at in tweets over the weekend, Indianapolis has addressed one area on offense.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had agreed Monday night to be the Colts’ primary back-up to second-year starter Andrew Luck. He officially signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the team Tuesday morning.
“We are very pleased to announce the signing of Matt Hasselbeck,” general manager Ryan Grigson said in a prepared statement. “His body of work, intangibles, and extensive league experience speak for themselves. Those factors, plus his familiarity with our offensive scheme, will make him a great asset to our team and its vision as we move forward.”
Colts likely done signing free agents, for now
With the possible exception of adding a few lesser-priced players, the Indianapolis Colts’ big-time foray into the veteran free-agent marketplace is pretty much done.
Landry, Jean Francois join Colts defensive unit
After adding five veteran free agent players to the Indianapolis Colts roster on Tuesday, general manager Ryan Grigson plucked two more plums late Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.
New York Jets safety LaRon Landry and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois both signed contracts with the Colts. Landry, a strong safety who appears to be a bigger version of former Indianapolis Pro Bowler Bob Sanders, and the versatile Jean-Francois are expected to make immediate impacts on the Colts’ defensive unit.
Colts introduce free-agent signees
What the Indianapolis Colts accomplished last season — posting an 11-5 record and earning an AFC wild-card berth with a young team plus having that kind of success without its head coach on the sidelines for 12 games — didn’t go unnoticed by players around the NFL.
That was especially true for the five veteran free agents who were added to the Colts’ roster Tuesday. Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (Detroit), cornerback Greg Toler (Arizona), outside linebacker Erik Walden (Green Bay), offensive guard Donald Thomas (New England) and linebacker Lawrence Sidbury (Atlanta) admitted as much Wednesday.
“I felt like this would be the best fit for me at this point in my career. I really liked what I saw was happening with the program here and the way things have taken shape. I feel like we have a really great team here and it’s on the rise. I really wanted to be a part of that,” Thomas said during a teleconference interview with the Colts’ media.
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Jeff Saturday retires as a Colt
An Indianapolis Colt for life. Pencil in Jeff Saturday for that honor.
The 14-year veteran center in the NFL put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — when Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday thrilled to retire as a Colt
The 14-year veteran center in the National Football League put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in-between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — that Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday to retire as Colt on Thursday
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Indianapolis franchises punter McAfee
A week ago, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said it was a priority that the team retain the services of punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee, an unrestricted free agent who’s contract is due to expire March 12, was designated as the Colts’ franchise player Friday. The move allows Indianapolis extra time to work out a long-term deal for the team’s special-teams ace.
“He’s huge. He’s a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we’ve reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed,” Pagano said during the National Football Scouting Combine. “We saw what he did for us last year. He’s a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touchbacks.
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Colts' Pagano back to full work schedule at combine
Back and ready to go.
That’s the attitude Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is taking during the National Football Scouting Combine, which completed its second day of operations Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. During a wide-ranging press conference at the combine, Pagano confirmed that he is back to a full work regimen after missing 12 games last fall as he battled a rare form of leukemia.
After undergoing cancer treatments that featured heavy doses of chemotherapy, the second-year head coach was able to return to the sidelines for Indianapolis’ final regular-season home game against Houston and for the team’s AFC wild-card matchup with eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
Colts looking forward to different approach to draft in 2013
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick in the 2012 National Football League draft.
It was a foregone conclusion that the Colts would select former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the selection. While Indianapolis front office and player personnel officials certainly had to do their due diligence in preparing for the draft, the Colts find themselves this year in a bit different situation.
The team will have the 24th overall pick in the first round, which is a double-edged sword. Indianapolis picks lower in the round due to a successful season. But the pool of available can’t-miss talent isn’t quite as plentiful as drafting earlier in the round.
Former Pro Bowl selection Freeney won't return to Colts
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