As much as Bruce Arians is enjoying leading the Indianapolis Colts as the team’s interim coach, he has made it clear where his loyalties lie.
Arians, who has led the Colts to a 7-4 record heading into Sunday’s game at Detroit, continues to give all credit for the team’s unexpected run of success this season to his boss, coach Chuck Pagano.
Indianapolis was expected to flounder in the wake of so many on-and-off field changes. Yet the Colts find themselves in strong contention for an AFC wild-card berth.
Pagano has been away from the team, in terms of being an every-day presence, since Oct. 1 when he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. He has been undergoing a series of chemotherapy treatments since then.
The goal, according to Arians, is to have Pagano back on the sidelines for the Colts’ Dec. 30 regular-season home finale with AFC South rival Houston.
If that goal is met, Pagano will be back fully in charge of the team in time for a potential post season run.
“If he comes back, he’ll be the head coach and taking back over,” Arians said.
Pagano has been in attendance for two home games — Miami and Buffalo — since taking his leave of absence, sitting with team owner Jim Irsay in his Lucas Oil Stadium suite. The Colts have won both of those matchups.
He has also remained involved by working from his home by breaking down practice and game tapes. Pagano also keeps in touch with the Colts’ coaching staff and players.
“[The players] love Chuck and what he means and what he stands for. He’s in communication with the guys all the time texting,” Arians said.
“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.”
The Colts players have watched Pagano’s battle with leukemia on a daily basis. And they’ve learned from it, taking their on-field quest of making the playoffs on a day-by-day schedule.
“Each game has become more important. Our goal is in sight. As long as we stay within the moment, we’ll be playing when he comes back and that has always been our goal since he got sick, to extend the season,” Arians voiced.
“He has stayed in constant contact with a lot of the players and coaches. His foot prints and hand prints are all over this team. It’s his team. We all feel very good that we’re in a position now to achieve that goal if we just stay in the moment of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and not start looking ahead.”
Having Pagano around, even on a limited basis, continues to be the Colts’ driving force. And being able to contribute, even on a limited basis, helps the coach as well.
“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,” Arians explained. “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 [wide receiver] T.Y. [Hilton], [texting him last week to stretch and cut on his punt returns, which helped propel him on the 75-yard runback for a touchdown against Buffalo]. 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.”
n Facing the Lions — The Colts will have a stiff test this weekend at Ford Field against a Detroit team that is a lot better than its 4-7 record would indicate.
“When you’ve got two guys with the quality of [quarterback] Matthew [Stafford] and [wide receiver] Calvin [Johnson], they are as good as it gets in this league. As far as a one-two punch, the guy throwing to a guy catching, Matthew can make every throw in the book and this guy [Johnson] can obviously take a short one and go over [you],” Arians previewed.
“Or you could have him covered and he’s still going to jump out and catch it. So don’t get your heart broken if two guys are on him and he still catches the ball. Just play the next down.”
Arians scouted the big (6-5, 236) and athletic Johnson prior to the 2006 National Football League draft, attending his on-campus workout at Georgia Tech as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“When we went to his workout when he was coming out, you had seen a little bit of each in a different guy. Plaxico [Burress] was big. Some guys are fast, Steve Smith’s got great hands. This guy has got it all and he’s got an unbelievable work ethic,” he recalled.
“I think the most impressive thing for me was watching him block at Georgia Tech. They didn’t throw that much and he was a devastating blocker for them. Just watching him grow as a wide receiver now speaks volumes for his work ethic.”
n Explanation on Chapman — The Colts’ decision to place rookie nose tackle Josh Chapman on injured reserve came as somewhat of a surprise.
Chapman had undergone reconstructive knee surgery in January after he was injured playing for Alabama last season. He had missed the spring workouts, training camp and the early portion of the regular season but had been cleared to begin practicing last month. Chapman had been added to the active roster but had played in a game yet this season.
“He made the ultimate sacrifice last year giving that [knee] up for a [FBS] 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,” Arians said.
”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 off-season so we can have him fully healthy for next year.”
n Roster moves — Indianapolis signed safety Delano Howell Wednesday from the Buffalo Bills practice squad to the Colts active roster.
The Colts also announced that offensive guard Seth Olsen will return to practice from the physically unable to perform list. Olsen will remain on injured reserve during this time.
Indianapolis will have up to three weeks from today to elevate Olsen to the 53-man active roster or he will remain on Injured Reserve for the rest of the season.
Indianapolis also signed former Rams defensive tackle Kellen Heard. Defensive tackle Fili Moala (knee) and Chapman were both added to the injured reserve list.
n Injury list — Sitting out Wednesday’s practice were outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (rest), offensive tackle Tony Hills (chest), nose tackle Martin Tevaseu (head/shoulder) and safety Tom Zbikowski (shin contusion/knee).
Running back Donald Brown (knee), cornerback Vontae Davis (knee), tight end Coby Fleener (shoulder), safety Joe Lefeged (toe) and quarterback Andrew Luck (knee) all fully participated in the workout.
As much as Bruce Arians is enjoying leading the Indianapolis Colts as the team’s interim coach, he has made it clear where his loyalties lie.
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Werner, 36 others open Colts’ mini camp
The Indianapolis Colts welcomed 37 players to the start of the team’s rookie mini camp Friday at the West 56th Street headquarters.
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
Bjoern Werner was a late comer to football. But after being selected in the first round of the 2013 National Football League draft by the Indianapolis Colts, Werner realizes that he has reached the pinnacle of the sport in a relatively short amount of time.
Colts select pass rusher Werner in first round
The Indianapolis Colts selected Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner. The 6-foot-3, 266-pound defensive lineman can also play left outside linebacker.
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.
Direction clear for Colts in 2013 draft
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Colts veteran among those excited to see Luck's growth in 2013-14
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Redding, who has become one of the Colts’ lockerroom leaders after just one season with the team, thinks he has some reasonable expectations of Indianapolis’ former No. 1 draft pick.
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.
Colts sign five free agents, filling needs at offensive line, cornerback
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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.
Colts GM enjoying time at combine
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Colts keeping eye on large crop of talented linemen in NFL Draft
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Among the offensive line candidates who have been showcasing their talents at the National Football Scouting Combine, which began in earnest Thursday and wraps up on Tuesday, the spotlight has been on the offensive tackles. Offensive left tackles in particular.
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
The news coming out of the Indianapolis Colts headquarters Friday afternoon was not totally unexpected. Team officials have confirmed that two veteran players – former Pro Bowl defensive end/outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Austin Collie — will not be returning for the 2013 season.
Colts’ new offensive coordinator will offer variety
Quarterback Andrew Luck running the Pistol offense? Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton lining up in the Wildcat?
Colts moving on to the off season
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Baltimore ends Indy’s playoff run early
The Baltimore Ravens want one long final ride for Ray Lewis. Having disposed of Andrew Luck and the Colts, they now face a more imposing challenge.
Next up, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Switching sides: Colts-Ravens matchup includes old friends on new teams
Just as Baltimore Ravens players and coaches will be seeing some old friends returning to M&T Bank Stadium today, several Indianapolis Colts veterans will also have an opportunity to renew acquaintances with a familiar face.
Pagano prepares Colts for tough crowd in Baltimore
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Pagano marvels at Colt’s progress
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