AFC South: Indianapolis Colts

Reitz signs qualifying offer

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts continued to add depth to their offensive line.

Guard/tackle Joe Reitz signed his one-year, $1.43 million qualifying offer as a restricted agent Thursday. Reitz, who went to high school in the Indianapolis area, has started 20 of the 34 games he's appeared in during his career. The Colts claimed Reitz off waivers from the Miami Dolphins in 2010.

The problem with the 6-7, 323-pound Reitz is his inability to remain healthy. He missed two games with a concussion last season and seven in 2012 with concussion and knee problems.

With Jeff Linkenbach signing with Kansas City, Reitz has an opportunity to be the Colts' primary utility backup offensive line because he plays either the guard or tackle position.

Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Colts 

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
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ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. posted his mock draft 4.0Insider earlier Thursday.

Who needs a first-round pick? Not the Indianapolis Colts, so we’ll skip ahead to the second round when they pick at No. 59.


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INDIANAPOLIS -- It looks like there won't be a debate over whether new Indianapolis Colts receiver Hakeem Nicks will be able to wear No. 88, the number Marvin Harrison wore during his 13 years with the team.

Nicks
"I don't think we've quite figured that one out yet," Nicks said during a conference call last month. "Everybody knows I love those eights on my chest but we'll have to see how that pans out."

Nicks, who signed a one-year deal, will wear No. 14, according to Colts.com.

It's not surprising that Nicks had to settle for another number. You can't look at the No. 88 jersey and not think about Harrison. He spent his entire career with the Colts, totaling 1,102 receptions for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns. Harrison missed out on making the Hall of Fame this year, but he'll be in there sooner than later.

The Colts hope Nicks makes No. 14 a household name for them next season and possibly longer if he's able to have a bounce-back season. He did not catch a touchdown pass for the first time in his career last season with the New York Giants.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis doesn't have the warm weather like Miami or San Diego. It doesn't have the New York City skyline like MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. What Indianapolis does have, though, is the best stadium in the NFL for the third straight year, according to Stadium Journey magazine.

Stadium Journey used a Fanfare five-star scale to rate the categories: Food and beverage, atmosphere, neighborhood, fans, access, return on investment and extra. The Colts received five stars in every category except food and beverage, which they received four stars in.

"Lucas Oil Stadium is a fantastic venue, with the emphasis on the fans," according to Stadium Journey. "This is one of the best sports stadium experiences in the country and should be on an NFL fans' bucket list, especially as the team is well on its way to becoming an attraction in itself."

Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Dallas' AT&T Stadium and Carolina's Bank of America Stadium round out the top five stadiums.

San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium and Washington's FedEx Field were ranked as the worst three stadiums in the league.
INDIANAPOLIS - Will Reggie Wayne not participating in minicamp impact the Indianapolis Colts' chemistry?

Bush
Wayne
That was one of the questions that came up after the receiver said he probably won't take part in the team's minicamp.

No.

Wayne tore his ACL in Week 7 last season. Holding him out until the start of training camp at the end of July is the right thing for the Colts to do.

Wayne is a veteran, he doesn't need to work on his timing with Luck. He's simply excited to be out there with his teammates again even if he'll be limited on what he does.

The fact that 35-year-old Wayne is ahead of schedule is another indication that there's little doubt he'll be able to fully recover from the injury.

Of course there will be questions about how comfortable Wayne will be running sharp routes and making hard plants on his surgically repaired knee.

Don't get me wrong, Wayne wants to be out there during minicamp. He told me he's always been "kind of hard headed," but waiting until training camp is the best thing for him to do.

"It's only natural to think about it, but that's why I'm going to slowly work my way back out there," Wayne said by phone earlier this week.

Wayne has high expectations for the offense now that they've added Hakeem Nicks to join him, T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts entered free agency last month with the fourth-most salary-cap space ($41 million). General manager Ryan Grigson was very open in saying that they weren’t going to be free spenders on the market.

He was right.

The Colts have been one of the least active teams in the NFL when it comes to signing players that were on other teams last season.

The fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information say the Colts are tied for the second fewest free-agent/trade additions with only four players being signed.

The Colts have signed receiver Hakeem Nicks, defensive lineman Arthur Jones, center Phil Costa and linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. The Colts still have about $13.4 million in salary-cap space available.

Here’s a breakdown of the teams that have made the fewest moves and most moves so far during the offseason:

 

Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Colts 

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
12:15
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ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay posted his 2014 mock draft Insider earlier on Thursday.

As you’ve been reminded every time you hear the name “Trent Richardson,” the Indianapolis Colts do not have a first-round pick because of their trade with Cleveland to acquire the running back last September.


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INDIANAPOLIS -- The two-tight end formation was supposed to be a significant part of the Indianapolis Colts' offensive package last season.

Allen
Dwayne Allen, the all-around tight end, on one side. Coby Fleener, the pass-catching tight end, on the other side. Both were going to be used in the passing game and also help block for what was supposed to be a power-running game.

But the ability to use Allen and Fleener together ended less than a full game into the 2013 season because Allen suffered a season-ending hip injury.

That left Fleener and a number of different players trying to fill Allen's void.

Jack Doyle. Dominque Jones. Justice Cunningham. Weslye Saunders.

The Colts hope they won't have to do the same thing next season with the tight ends. Allen recently told Colts.com, the team's official website, that he feels like he's “almost to 110 percent” healthy.

“We love using tight ends like everybody else,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “But (Fleener) took a big step in Year 2 and played really good football for us and will continue to do that. Getting Dwayne back, we're going to have great options there. You get that inline blocker in Dwayne but don't forget that Dwayne is a heck of a pass receiver, too. So we can create a bunch of mismatches with those guys and get them out in space and get the matchups that you want. It's going to be a great situation.”

Having Allen back gives offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton the flexibility with different formations. Allen played on the line of scrimmage, off the line of scrimmage and he played in the backfield during his rookie season.

"Pep and those guys do a great job of putting those guys in position to make plays and be successful and try to create the matchups that you want," Pagano said. "You have two guys there that have position flexibility and can do a lot of things for you. We're going to ask (Fleener) to do some of the heavy lifting. Having both those guys in the lineup and having them healthy gives us a lot of flexibility there.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- It was almost two years ago that Indianapolis Colts running back Vick Ballard entered the NFL as a bright-eyed rookie.

Ballard
Now, 877 yards and a torn ACL later, Ballard is considered an elder statesman when it comes to playing in the AFC South.

And it's true. Ballard is one of the most experienced running backs when it comes to playing in the AFC South. Turnover at running back in the division has taken place during the offseason. Gone are division fixtures Chris Johnson in Tennessee and Colts nemesis Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville. Even Ben Tate is gone in Houston.

Houston’s Arian Foster is sitting at the top in the division. He’s rushed for 5,063 yards and 45 touchdowns in five seasons with the Texans.

Ballard rushed for 814 yards and two touchdowns during his rookie season in Indianapolis. His second season came to an end during Week 2 when he tore his ACL while making a cut during practice.

All signs point to Ballard being ready for training camp where he’ll compete with Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw for carries. Don’t automatically assume Ballard will be the third back because Richardson did not play well after the Colts acquired him from Cleveland in Week 3 last season. Bradshaw needs to prove he can stay healthy after having his season end in Week 3 with a neck injury.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Another step toward the 2014 season starts April 21 for the Indianapolis Colts. I wish I could tell you that’s when the 2014 schedule will come out.

That's not the case. But it is when quarterback Andrew Luck and the rest of the Colts will have their first day of offseason workouts.

The players will take part in strength/conditioning training and individual position drills for the first six weeks of workouts.

The Colts will then move on to their organized team activities, which are full-squad but non-padded practices. Here are the dates for those: May 27-29, June 2-4 and June 9-12.

The mandatory minicamp will be held June 16-19. The players and coaches will then break for a final vacation period after minicamp before returning for the start of training camp. The Colts haven't announced the official start date of their training camp at Anderson (Ind.) University yet. It'll start sometime in late July.

The 2014 schedule will likely come out at some point this month.

Around the NFL: 2014 minicamp, OTA schedules released
INDIANAPOLIS -- Safety Kurt Coleman will visit the Indianapolis Colts on Friday.

Coleman
That usually means one thing: The Colts have serious interest in him.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson isn’t one to bring players in for visits without them leaving with a deal. Just ask receiver Hakeem Nicks.

Coleman, a former seventh-round pick, started 29 games from 2010-12 with the Philadelphia Eagles before not starting a game for them last season. Coleman’s best season was in 2012 when he had 93 tackles and two interceptions.

Grigson was with the Eagles in a number of different capacities from 2004-11, and is well aware of Coleman's capabilities.

Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star pointed out that Coleman was involved in a helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked Colts receiver Austin Collie out of the Nov. 7, 2010, game in Philadelphia.

Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano recently pointed out that Delano Howell, Sergio Brown and Corey Lynch are options to start alongside LaRon Landry at safety. Longtime Colts safety Antoine Bethea signed with San Francisco last month. Pagano also indicated that they’ll look to select a safety in the May 8-10 draft.
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.'s fourth 2014 NFL mock draftInsider is out and instead of wondering who the Colts would have taken if they kept the No. 26 pick, which is now Cleveland's property courtesy of the trade for running back Trent Richardson, Kiper has a mock through the first three rounds based on team need.


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INDIANAPOLIS -- Carlie Irsay-Gordon, the 33-year-old with a wide range of interests, from performing arts to majoring in religious studies in college, was working on her Ph.D in psychology when she had to put that on hold.

The likely plan, the one that's been in the making for years, to have Irsay-Gordon and her sisters, Casey Foyt and Kalen Irsay, eventually run the Indianapolis Colts was accelerated because of an unfortunate situation involving their father and owner of the team, Jim Irsay.

So here Irsay-Gordon sits at the top, giving the final "yes" or "no" on decisions made by Colts general manager Ryan Grigson on the football side and chief operating officer Pete Ward on the business side.

Irsay's decision to enter a rehabilitation facility for his addictions following his arrest last month has lifted Irsay-Gordon from the shadows and into the front of the organization until her father returns.

"She'll do well. She's a sharp businessperson," former Colts assistant and current Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "She's very much like her father; she has great personality, she's extremely bright, she has a good feeling for people. I've worked for a bunch of owners, and Jim Irsay -- he talks about faith, family and football. It's real. And she has that same mindset."

Irsay-Gordon joins principle owners Martha Ford, widow of the late Detroit Lions owner Bill Ford Sr., and Virginia McCaskey of the Chicago Bears as the only females running NFL franchises.

[+] EnlargeCarlie Irsay-Gordon
AJ Mast/AP PhotoColts vice chair/owner Carlie Irsay-Gordon (center) presents a jersey to Scott West and his wife, Julie West, on Oct. 6, 2013.
Irsay-Gordon started as an intern in the team's football and marketing department and worked her way up to her current title of vice chair/owner prior to the 2012 season. She graduated from Skidmore College in upstate New York, where she majored in religious studies, and she has represented the Colts at the NFL owners meetings every year since 2004. She and Grigson were bouncing ideas off each other throughout the meetings in Orlando, Fla., last week.

"She never ceases to amaze me with some of the questions she asks. She has it," Grigson said. "I've told this to Jim because I know these are the things that he would like to hear. And it's why [coach] Chuck [Pagano] and I have a great working relationship with her, because she gets it. It's not like we're sitting here trying to explain things to her. She already has a really good base of knowledge, and not just from an operations standpoint with dollars and [the salary] cap."

Irsay-Gordon, who is married to an attorney and has three children, has declined all interview requests because of her father's legal situation.

Like her father, football runs deep in Irsay-Gordon's blood. She's been around it her entire life.

"I grew up in a football family, so I know exactly what it's like to grow up in a football family and be around it your entire life," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "You can see that."

The Colts are in a delicate state because they're trying to continue to move up in the AFC and they don't want Irsay's legal and personal situation to become a distraction. There's no getting around it, the situation will remain, but Irsay-Gordon isn't expected to be a boss who will constantly be looking over Grigson and Ward.

"How much interaction do we have? They have their jobs to do and we have our jobs to do," Pagano said. "The great thing about the entire Irsay family is that they hired us to do a job and they let us to do our job. So, when we have to communicate, those lines of communication are always there. They're always open. It's a great working environment, and we have great working relationships with all those people."

The similarities are unmistakable between father and daughter. They're "wired" the same when it comes to football, according to Pagano. Irsay-Gordon hates losing more than she loves winning -- much like her father.

One of the biggest differences is that you won't find Irsay-Gordon on Twitter the same way her father uses it to voice his displeasure when the team isn't living up to his expectations. She's tweeted only nine times to her nearly 800 followers in four-plus years.

"She expects [excellence] just like her father does," Grigson said. " ... That's something that their father, I'm sure, has ingrained in them. But at the same time, there's a tremendous amount of respect given to everyone in the building, and they display that. There's no pretentiousness or condescension. You know who's in charge, but the delivery, I think, is something that's unique in this league."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Chuck Pagano has been coach of the Indianapolis Colts for just two seasons. He’s coached only 20 games because his unfortunate battle with leukemia caused him to miss 12 games during the 2012 season.

Those two seasons have put Pagano at the top of the seniority list among coaches in the AFC South.

“We all understand the nature of the business,” he said. “We know how we’re judged and that’s by one thing only: wins and losses. We all know what we signed up for. You just try to do the best you can, win as many games as you can.”

The Colts have won 11 games in each of the past two seasons and a division title in that time span. Jacksonville’s Gus Bradley has the second-longest tenure in the division. He’s heading into his second season with the Jaguars, who were 4-12 last season.

Houston, the biggest disappointment in the NFL last season, and Tennessee have hired new coaches. The Texans hired former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien and the Titans named Ken Whisenhunt their coach.

Teams not named the Colts went a combined 13-35 last season in the worst division in the league.

“We don’t take what happened last year for granted,” Pagano said. “You have quality coaches, you have quality players. Everybody’s picking up new players, everybody’s made acquisitions during free agency. All those games, they’re all competitive games.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- Stanley Havili was the only true fullback on the Indianapolis Colts' roster last season.

Havili
He was used in short-yardage blocking situations, rarely carrying the ball (seven carries for 7 yards). He did catch the ball out of the backfield (18 catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns). Colts coach Chuck Pagano also used some tight ends in the backfield as fullbacks when Havili was injured.

"There are certain situations where you're short yardage, you're goal line, the 4-minute offense when you're trying to take the air out of the game and you've got a lead, you want to get in a two-back formation, having a guy like Stanley is very valuable,” Pagano said. “Not only is he a good blocker and a threat out of the backfield to catch the ball, but he plays on (special) teams.”

The fullback is somewhat of a dying breed in the NFL, but the Colts plan to continue to use it, which means there remains a spot on the roster for Havili.

“There's not many being developed and used at the college level anymore,” Pagano said of fullbacks. “So it's always nice to have one of those guys so you don't have to take a Dwayne Allen or Coby (Fleener) or somebody else and stick them in the backfield -- a guy who's not built for it. We all know how fullbacks are built like fire hydrants. They're short-necked, thick guys who love running into things. So they're hard to find.”

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