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The Indianapolis Colts returned to the practice field in earnest on Wednesday after their mini-bye week. Since their loss last week to the Steelers, all eyes have been firmly fixed on Andrew Luck and his trek through the NFL’s concussion protocol. Monday night’s game gives Luck a little extra time to heal his oft-praised noggin, but the hope is he won’t need the whole week to be cleared to play against the New York Jets.
Health, the Playoffs, and the J-E-T-S
The hopes of the Jets making the playoffs are pretty bleak as they sit at 3-8. The Colts, however, perched atop their mid-winter sandcastle tower (ivory towers are for winners) at 5-6 will need some help themselves if they hope to win the AFC South and sniff the postseason.
“We have five games left, we have to win each one,” Phillip Dorsett said of the message given to the Wide Receiver group by T.Y. Hilton. “We just have to keep swinging, have to keep swinging, have to win your coverages and have to win everything.”
Hilton’s last message of the stars needing to step up against the Steelers didn’t quite work out, so hopefully this one sticks a bit better. Fulfilling his newest comments may also prove difficult considering the injuries that the Colts are once again wading their way through.
Robert Mathis, Vontae Davis, and Patrick Robinson all missed practice on Wednesday. However, Denzelle Good and Hilton both practiced and, more importantly, so did Clayton Geathers and Andrew Luck.
Geathers and Luck are still in the concussion protocol and will need clearance from the independent neurologist before seeing the playing field on Monday. But on Wednesday, Luck practiced fully and said he had “no restrictions” and “felt great.”
These are good signs for an offense set to play Darrelle Revis and the Jets’ press man to man coverage. While Revis Island isn’t a regular part of the NFL anymore (and may be on its way out completely) the future Hall of Fame cornerback still demands respect.
Luck complimented the Jets secondary on their ability to get “up in your face and making it a bit uncomfortable to the rhythm of things.” He went on to say, “It’s a disciplined, tough unit with really good players all over the field.”
Not to be outdone, Chuck Pagano praised the front seven of the Jets defense as well, stating that they are second in the league in forcing negative plays and the intimidating defensive line is fourth in the league against the run. With a stingy run defense like that coming up, you should probably think about throwing a bit more, right Chuck?
“December football, again, being able to run it and stop the run gives you a chance. You look at numbers, when we have more rushes than our opponents have, we generally win 80 percent of the time.”
In case you’d thought Pagano’s coaching mentality had changed, April Fools!
I know it’s December, but with this mindset that completely ignores the fact that passing allows them to score points, which puts the team in a place where they can run the ball more because they’ve already scored–that mindset means we might as well fast forward to the offseason.
But we won’t! Why? Because the kind and gracious man that is Andrew Luck doesn’t quite subscribe to the same nonsense: “To a certain extent,” Luck said when asked if he agreed with Pagano’s comments, “but we have always done what we needed to do in any game. Whether it’s throw for x amount of times or run, and I think when we have been successful we have done what we needed to do and not committed very many mistakes.”
Presumably fully aware of why he was being prodded about Pagano’s comments, Luck also added “We are not going to beat our heads against a wall.”
Luck also went on to talk about his belief in a multifaceted offensive approach that Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski has been bringing to the table in his game plans. So, where Pagano seems stuck in the mud, there are at least a few people in that building who still have a finger on the current pulse of professional football offenses.
This is why the Colts, once again with their playoff destiny in their own hands, will have a shot to make the tournament where they failed last year. This year, they have Luck.
“Yeah, you want to have all your guys out there and certainly Andrew is a guy you want to have on the field. I think everybody is excited about that.” Pagano downplayed it a bit, but it’s clear that there’s a difference between Matt Hasselbeck on a walker and Andrew Luck when the playoffs are on the line.
And, for the record, how is Luck feeling? “Sitting and watching is no fun. Playing is fun. Practicing is fun. Winning is fun.”
Winning is fun, Andrew. I think we all can agree with that.
-Andrew Luck when asked about running the wildcat: “Yeah, I wouldn’t say the quarterback runs the wildcat per say, we are a fifth business.”
Ignoring the wildcat aspect of this for a second…I’m usually the first to mock the reporters who gush over Luck’s vocabulary, but ‘fifth business’ threw me. Definition of the phrase via the New York Times and their research: “Those roles which, being neither those of Hero nor Heroine, Confidante nor Villain, but which were nonetheless essential to bring about the Recognition or the denouement, were called the Fifth Business in drama and opera companies organized according to the old style; the player who acted these parts was often referred to as Fifth Business.”
Catch that? Unremarkable in title or role, but indirectly crucial in the execution of the plot (or in this case, play). While he (the QB) doesn’t have anything directly to do with the wildcat play, it doesn’t function unless he’s there…not doing anything…you see? Ok, Luck, we get it, you’re well read.
-Pagano on Trent Cole: “I think just getting him back acclimated to football. The trainers and the doctors have done a great job with him and he has done a great job with his rehab to this point.”
Cole has been on IR and is now back on the practice field. He looks to be the prime candidate for the Colts to use their “IR designated to return” on. With a pass rush that makes the word ‘lackluster’ sound too generous, the defense will take all the help it can get. There’s no timetable for his return (if he returns), but the Colts have a few weeks before they have to make that final decision. So stay tuned.
All quotes courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts PR department unless otherwise noted.