NFL Nation: Chuck Pagano

A particularly ghoulish list has circulated around social media in recent years. Maybe you've seen it: The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, as recorded by a palliative nurse. No. 2 -- "I wish I hadn't worked so hard" -- seems most applicable to the NFL, where coaches and staff members work unimaginable hours for all but a brief window of summer.

Wrote the nurse: "All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

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Zondervan PublishingWhile recovering from leukemia, Chuck Pagano vowed that neither he nor his staff would sleep in the office once he returned.
Keeping that thought in mind, I spoke Monday morning with Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano as part of a series of interviews to promote his book "Sidelined." Did Pagano consider jumping off that treadmill after his September 2012 leukemia diagnosis? Even for a moment, did he contemplate a quieter life in remission with his wife, three daughters and three granddaughters?

"That never crossed my mind," Pagano said. If anything, his time watching the Colts from an Indianapolis hospital reaffirmed the place work has in his life. But for a minor concession, which we'll reveal in a moment, Pagano charged back into his job without a second thought.

"Besides my family, really for me, it's football," he said. "It's my only love and passion besides my family, and it helped get me out of that hospital. There was never a moment where I said, 'I want to do this or that if I get my health back.' The best medicine I got was watching that 2012 season unfold. That was enough for me."

I suppose it's easy to render judgment on another person's worldview, but I found Pagano's to be reflective of his industry. Ascending to a head-coaching job requires a singular focus, one accepted and supported by family members, and isn't conducive to drifting professional thoughts. NFL head coaches define themselves by long hours, pursuit of goals, and competition. They fight off adversity and avoid changing directions as a result.

Pagano was 52 at the time of his diagnosis, in his first year as a head coach after 27 years as an assistant. All of his time on the proverbial treadmill had built to that point -- and, he believed, brought him into a role that helped him navigate his illness. It was a time for a football coach to attack rather than run.

In the quiet moments of his hospitalization, Pagano made but one largely symbolic pledge that, for him, struck a balance between work ethic and life perspective: No more sleeping at the practice facility, for himself or his staff.

"I know that there are coaches who do end up sleeping on the sofa in their office," he said, "and that can be part of the business. But the one thing I told myself is that if I was fortunate to get out of the hospital and get back to the facility, that one thing I was going to demand of our guys was to go home at night. Working hard and working smart are two different things, and I wanted our guys to work smart enough so they could do that one little thing each night.

"If we're having to stay here and sleep at night, we're probably overcooking this thing too much. You've got to rest, even in this business. If you don't have your health, you don't have anything."

This seemingly minor demand is actually a big deal, and I hope it catches on around the league. Staying at the office all night is as much a show of disorganization, competitiveness and misguided face time as it is of strong work ethic. Some ambitious assistants feel uneasy leaving for the night if there are still cars in the parking lot, so Pagano makes it easy on his guys.

"If we have time and guys need to get out," he said, "I'll go 'Paul Revere' up and down the halls and kick them out of the building. If you're running on fumes, you get to a point of diminishing results. Get some rest."

That's about as much life-work balance as you're going to get from an NFL head coach, and it has served Pagano well since he returned to the field 18 months ago. He has been taking a drug known as ATRA (all trans retinoic acid) every three months for a two-week stretch, and his last dose is due in the fall. At that point, he will undergo testing every six months for three years to confirm his continued remission.

In the meantime, proceeds from Pagano's book will fund additional research to spur more success stories like his.

"Really, what this whole process has done is put everything in perspective," he said. "We all understand the expectations and pressure of this job. But in reality, we're blessed to coach and play a kid's game. We know what we signed up for, but this is what I do. Wouldn't want it any other way."
INDIANAPOLIS -- There was a pair of eyes constantly peeking out from the Indianapolis Colts' indoor practice facility onto the outdoor practice field during the first day of mandatory minicamp Tuesday.

Bush
Wayne
Those eyes belonged to veteran receiver Reggie Wayne.

Wayne, as expected for months, is not taking part in the team's minicamp because he's still working his way back from a torn ACL, suffered in Week 7 last season.

"He was ready to run in there right at the end of that team drill," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He looks great. Again, we're going to have to have plenty of security around him so he doesn't sneak out in pads come training camp time and try to get in there too soon. We all know what Reggie's made of and how he's wired and what his DNA is, and so he's chomping at the bit obviously to get back out there."

So will Wayne, who is determined to prove doubters wrong about being able to return from a torn ACL at age 35, be ready for training camp at the end of July?

"I'd be shocked, I'd be shocked if he wouldn't be," Pagano said.

Wayne isn't the only Colts' player trying to return from a season-ending injury suffered last year. Running backs Vick Ballard (knee) and Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), offensive lineman Donald Thomas (quad/bicep) and tight end Dwayne Allen (hip) all had their seasons cut short.

Bradshaw and Allen are taking part in the minicamp. Ballard and Thomas are headed in the right direction with their rehab, according to Pagano.

"We're anticipating having most of those guys," Pagano said. "There may be one or two out of that group that might have to start on PUP, but our guys, Dave Hammer and the crew and our doctors are optimistic that none of those guys will have to."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts starting safety LaRon Landry wasn't required to take part in the team's organized team activities because they're voluntary. The three-day mandatory minicamp is the only time players are required to report to the team's facility.

Three days.

But Landry was not on the field for the first day of minicamp Tuesday.

Landry
The reason?

He hadn't undergone the required physical yet. This isn't a new physical that's being required, but it's the same physical veteran players are required to take before minicamp every year.

“(Monday night) we had an administrative meeting,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “(You) can't do any football first day. Every single vet on the football team, except the rookies have to go do physicals.”

Landry, by the way, was the only veteran player who did not take part in minicamp Tuesday because he didn't take his physical. He's also the only player not to be in facility during the offseason. Landry doesn't work out with the team during the offseason because he prefers to work out on his own. He's one of the more fit players in the NFL, but it's more than about being in shape.

Landry's about to have a new starting safety playing alongside of him, the Colts struggled as a defensive unit last season and Landry didn't have a great first season with the team. He missed four games with an ankle injury while finishing with 96 tackles and no interceptions.

“LaRon works as hard as anybody, wished it was here most of the time,” Pagano said. “I know that he's working. He probably does too much.”

As far as other players who missed Tuesday's session, defensive lineman Cory Redding was excused to tend to a family matter. Cornerback Vontae Davis has a groin injury and Pagano said safety Delano Howell is dealing with a soft tissue injury without going into specifics.

As expected, receiver Reggie Wayne (knee), running back Vick Ballard (knee) and offensive lineman Donald Thomas (quad, bicep) also didn't take part.
INDIANAPOLIS -- New Indianapolis Colts safety Mike Adams was part of the Denver Broncos team that reached the Super Bowl last season.

But there Adams sat, waiting for a team to sign him during the offseason. He waited. Waited some more. He waited so long that anxiety started to set in. Adams, 33, had never been out of work this long during his 10-year NFL career.

Adams’ phone finally rang last week when the Colts put safety Corey Lynch on injured reserve.

[+] EnlargeMike Adams
Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsVeteran safety Mike Adams has started 73 games in his 10-year career.
"The pieces are in place and we have a chance to hoist (the trophy) at the end," Adams said. "That’s my goal. I came here to win. That’s Chuck Pagano’s philosophy and that’s what they want to do here. That’s what it all boils down."

Adams has gone from being unemployed to having a chance to be one of the Colts' starting safeties when they take on his former team, the Broncos, in the season opener on Sept. 7.

"Bottom line is I want to compete for a job," Adams said. "I want to earn these guys' respect. I’m going in (Year 11). Its’ a different locker room, new system I have to learn. I want to earn that. I don’t want it given to me. I told coach and I told the (general manager Ryan Grigson), 'I appreciate you telling me I don’t have the job. I appreciate that.' I was the underdog my whole career. I love competing and proving people wrong."

Safety has been a legit concern for the Colts since long-time fixture Antoine Bethea signed with San Francisco on the first day of the free agent signing period in March.

The Colts didn’t address the position during free agency or the draft. They constantly talked about having confidence in Delano Howell, who has been working with the first team during the offseason workouts.

But Howell lacks experience on a defense that was too inconsistent last season. The same goes for Sergio Brown, David Sims and Colt Anderson.

Enter Adams.

He has started 73 games in his 10-year career. The question about Adams is how much does he have left in his tank at the age of 33. He admits his age might have caused teams to shy away a little bit.

"I feel like I’m 26,” he quickly says. "You're going to see the way I move. Once guys see my film. I was talking to the GM and he said, 'I had to watch your film' and he said, 'You’re 33?' and I was like, 'yeah I am 33,' but when you watch the film it doesn’t look like I’m 33."

Adams is versatile. He can also play cornerback, nickelback or be the dime.

Now he has to see if he’s versatile enough to get the number he wants. Adams, who currently has No. 42, has worn No. 20 throughout his career, but cornerback Darius Butler has that number.

"I’ll have to sweet-talk him," Adams said. "Have to take him out to dinner; wine and dine him."
INDIANAPOLIS -- The final significant days of the offseason for the Indianapolis Colts (outside of when commissioner Roger Goodell disciplines owner Jim Irsay) starts Tuesday at the team's facility when they begin the first of three days of mandatory minicamp before breaking up for the final time prior to reporting for training camp July 23.

Let's take a look at several things to pay attention to during the camp:

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsThe competition at running back, including Trent Richardson, won't be decided in this week's mandatory minicamp.
Offensive line battle: You can go ahead and put Khaled Holmes down as the starting center, but with Donald Thomas (quad, bicep) still working his way back, the starting guard positions could end up taking some time. Hugh Thornton, who took Thomas's spot after he was injured last season, has been working with the first team at right guard during organized team activities. Lance Louis had been working with the first team at left guard, but rookie Jack Mewhort, the Colts' second-round pick, moved ahead of him last week. The competition will intensify during training camp.

Running back competition: Just like the battle for the starting guard position, we won't get full competition for the starting running back position because Vick Ballard (knee) isn't expected to take part, as he's still working his way back from ACL surgery. Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw, the other two primary candidates, both wore red non-contact jerseys during OTAs. So this is another competition that won't pick up until training camp. All three players will get playing time, but keep in mind that coach Chuck Pagano said earlier in the offseason they want a workhorse in the backfield.

Landry sighting: Safety LaRon Landry has been the most significant healthy player missing during OTAs. It's not required for players to attend OTAs and Landry prefers to work out on his own during the offseason. But it still would have been good if he would have popped in for some of the workouts because of the need for improvement for the defense, the transition from a seasoned veteran in Antoine Bethea to possibly Delano Howell, who lacks significant experience, and Landry simply didn't have a great first season with the Colts. The offense, as long as Andrew Luck is the quarterback, will be fine. He's shown he can be effective even without good blocking. The same can't be said about a defense that finished 20th in the league last season.

The Bjoern factor: The fact linebacker Robert Mathis (suspension) won't be with the Colts the first four games of the season has definitely sunk in. Now it's up to second-year player Bjoern Werner, who gets the first shot to start in Mathis's absence, to prove he was worth the Colts selecting him in the first round after an inconsistent rookie season. "This year it's just knowing the defense and to feel comfortable in the defense," Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. "Now it's just his ability to get to the passer, which it's kind of you want him to do that in these OTAs, but he's never really going to get there because you don't have the pads on. But he's been doing a great job at least from the calls and signals and getting everything lined up and knowing exactly what he's supposed to do. It's a great situation for him."

Can Adams help: The Colts signed veteran safety Mike Adams over the weekend to take Corey Lynch's spot on the roster after placing him on injured reserve. Howell is leading the race to start, but Adams has started 73 games in his career. The question about Adams is: Does he have enough left in his 33-year-old body to help the Colts and possibly supplant Howell as the starting safety alongside Landry?

Who won't be there: Barring a sudden change of events, here are the players -- not including those on injured reserve -- you won't see taking part in minicamp. Receiver Reggie Wayne (knee), Ballard (knee) and Thomas (quad, bicep).
INDIANAPOLIS -- The choice to curl up in the fetal position to avoid the challenge that lay ahead was waiting for the Indianapolis Colts the past two seasons.

A head coach that missed 12 weeks as he battled leukemia. A rookie quarterback taking over a 14-loss team from the year before. Five offensive players, including a likely Hall of Fame receiver, going down with season-ending injuries.

[+] EnlargeChuck Pagano
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesCoach Chuck Pagano's Colts need to improve their offensive line play to help a lowly rushing attack.
But there the Colts stood when it was all said and done with 11 wins in each of the past two seasons.

That's why as the organization was dealt a devastating blow to the gut by the announced NFL suspension of pass-rush artist Robert Mathis last week and the possible suspension of owner Jim Irsay at some point, there hasn't been any wavering of what the expectations are for next season.

That's not how the Colts approach things. That message was relayed more than two years ago, when general manager Ryan Grigson took over the rebuilding franchise and hired an unproven head coach in Chuck Pagano. And that was the message passed through the facility on the west side of Indianapolis after Mathis was suspended.

"We’ve had our fair share of bumps in the road," Grigson said. "We’ve had quite a bit of significant ones, but at the end of the day, we know we’re judged by wins and losses. This league is all about the bottom line, and we understand that.

"You can't sit there and cry a river when you have mounting injuries or you have unfortunate things happen because it's just life, and it's life in the NFL. We roll with the punches."

Ask anybody in the Colts organization why they haven’t fallen apart or even shown signs of cracking, and they point at Pagano.

Pagano didn’t have to overcome a broken arm or foot to return to the sidelines in 2012. He was in a nasty slugfest with cancer. It was a fight that took him out for 12 weeks, but he returned at the end of that season and hasn’t left since.

"I’ve been around a lot of teams and college teams, and this franchise is a no-excuse franchise," Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said.

Pagano doesn’t look at his illness as the reason the Colts have managed to overcome the obstacles that seem to continue to get in their way.

It boils down to trust, loyalty and respect with Indianapolis, something Irsay has constantly preached, to go with exceptional talent.

Colts southeast regional scout Jamie Moore put on a presentation last year in which he researched some of professional sports' legendary dynasties: the Montreal Canadiens, New York Yankees and Boston Celtics.

The Colts are far from a dynasty. They’ve yet to win a Super Bowl with Andrew Luck at quarterback. What Grigson and Pagano took away from the presentation, though, was the blueprint those teams used to build their franchises: being innovative, thinking outside the box and -- probably the most important of the three -- checking egos at the door.

The Colts have avoided internal conflicts because everybody has the same goal: winning as many games as possible, not worrying about individual stats.

"We laid out a foundation when we first got here," Pagano said. "We talked about a vision. We know what the vision is, [the Super Bowl banner is] hanging in the indoor practice facility. We talked about an environment and culture we wanted to create and then we talked about the process and how you go about your business."

Replacing Mathis for the first four games of the 2014 season won’t be easy. Anybody who says the Colts will be fine without last season's NFL sack leader likely isn’t telling the truth. For as much as Mathis is known for his strip-sacks, his presence inside the locker room has been just as valuable.

"Our team knows what’s at stake, same thing with Reggie [Wayne] being hurt," Grigson said. "If you lose somebody who is so significant to your franchise for a set amount of time, it's going to send everyone reeling for a second until we fall back on those things we've been preaching. Guys aren't going to have to step up in a serviceable way; they have to play at a championship level this year. Everyone does."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Defensive end Jonathan Newsome doesn't hide behind his checkered past. He knows he made mistakes, the kind that caused him to transfer from Ohio State to Ball State, a mid-major college in the Mid-American Conference. Newsome owned up to those mistakes during a conference call moments after the Indianapolis Colts made him the No. 166 overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft on Saturday.

Newsome started his college career with the Buckeyes but transferred because he was "living it up a little bit too much" at Ohio State. He missed spring practice in 2011 because of academic problems.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Newsome
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhColts prospect Jonathan Newsome hopes to follow in the footsteps of pass-rusher Robert Mathis.
"I was young and I was dumb, honestly," Newsome said. "Young and dumb and making dumb decisions as far as my academics, and I lost trust in my coaches. Before I had stayed there and tried to dig myself out of a hole that was so deep. I'd rather go get a fresh start at Ball State, where I had some former high school teammates that were playing there and a good supporting staff. That was the reason I left. I just needed a fresh start."

New school, same troubles for Newsome.

He was suspended two games at Ball State after being arrested in August 2012 for marijuana possession when a bag containing marijuana was found in his wallet. He was also held on a warrant after an incident in November 2011 when he and a teammate were accused of shoplifting.

"My mother's always been supportive of me," Newsome said. "Even when I did mess up, she was always there for me. And my head coach from high school, coach [Ted] Ginn [Sr.], was always there in my corner. When I messed up, he got me back right, got my focus back right and all my priorities straight.

"There were times when there was doubt, but ultimately, I was mentally tough enough to overcome all that stuff, and now I'm just sitting here and I'm an Indianapolis Colt. I can't even explain how crazy that story is, to go from almost getting kicked out of school to being an NFL draft pick, graduate. Everything's looking up and I'm going to continue with this success. I don't plan on having any more bumps in the road."

The Colts did thorough research on Newsome, and, just like he was with the media Saturday, he was just as honest to team officials when he met with them.

"If you lie, you’re dead to us," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said.

Newsome had 116 tackles (26 for a loss) and 16.5 sacks in his two seasons at Ball State.

"The tape doesn’t lie," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "It’s out there and the guy is a football junkie. It’s his whole life, and he’s a four core special-teams guy, and he embraces that. He loves that. It’s hard. As you guys know, it’s hard to find pass-rushers, and the way our league’s going, you can never have enough of them, so we feel great. As the board was getting plucked away, we were sweating bullets."

Former Colts general manager and current ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian said Newsome has "Robert Mathis-like ability."

"I think that’s a good comparison," Newsome said. "We ran multiple fronts at Ball State. We ran 4-3, we ran 3-4, we ran a lot of nickel. When we ran 3-4, I was an outside linebacker. I stood up a lot. When we ran a 4-3, I stood up on the edge. I can do all that stuff."

Mathis, like Newsome, came out of a small school -- Alabama A&M -- and he's turned in what should be a Hall of Fame career. Mathis has 111 career sacks.

"I’m going to be his little brother. He doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to be like his little brother," Newsome said. "I’m going to learn from [him]. I watched him all last year. We have similar builds.

"I can’t wait to learn from him. He led the league in sacks last year. That’s what I love to do -- sack the quarterback. Why not learn from the best?"
INDIANAPOLIS -- The assumption heading into the draft was that the Indianapolis Colts would use one of their five picks on a safety.

Seventeen safeties were picked during the three-day draft. None of them were selected by the Colts.

"There’s a small handful of guys in this draft that we felt like we could go get, it just didn’t happen," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "But it was not a deep safety class and if there was a safety we liked, we would have took one."

So as of now, in-house players Delano Howell, Sergio Brown, Corey Lynch and Colt Anderson, who have combined to start 22 games, are the stop candidates to man the starting safety spot opposite of LaRon Landry next season. Longtime Colts safety Antoine Bethea signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March.

"You don’t just because of need go reach and try to grab and fill a need when the value’s not there," coach Chuck Pagano said. "I feel good about the guys that are here and I think at the end of the day, we bolstered our front seven with acquiring D’Qwell Jackson and Art Jones and the two defensive players we picked up. The better that front seven is, the more pressure you can put on the passer, it certainly helps the back end. We’ll be fine."
INDIANAPOLIS – Offensive tackle? Or is he a guard? No, wait, he’s a center, right?

Don’t go trying to figure out what position Indianapolis Colts second round pick Jack Mewhort plays because the answer is unknown at the moment.

Mewhort, the No. 59 overall pick Friday, has played all those positions at some point between high school and at Ohio State, and the Colts like him because of his versatility along the line.

"We’ll get him in here and it’ll figure itself out, but we’ll find him a spot to start at then let him go to work," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He’s a dang good football player. He’s big, he’s tough, he’s smart, he loves football, fits our culture, fits our environment. He’s a horseshoe guy.

"What I live, he’s got nasty, he’s tough and you’ve got to have that on the offensive line."

What about you, Jack, what position do you envision playing in the NFL?

"I’m the type of guy that you point me in the direction and I’ll figure it out and I’ll go play it," he said. "I’m not sure I’ve got a specific position pegged down right now, but I know and I’m confident that I can excel at different ones along the offensive line."

Guard may end up being the position Mewhort gets the majority of his snaps because the Colts are set at tackle with Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus.

The goal is to have flexibility along the offensive line for the Colts. Mewhort played guard and tackle during the Senior Bowl.

The Colts were one of two teams to lose at least three offensive linemen that played at least 300 snaps without signing a player during free agency, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Indianapolis signed center Phil Costa, but he surprised many by deciding to retire last month.

"It’s so tough in this league to have continuity on the offensive line because of so many injuries," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "Position flex is what separates if you look at some of the teams that go deep in to the playoffs every year, they have tremendous position flex and versatility on their offensive line.

"To do that, you need smart guys that know how to play the game and Jack’s one of those guys."

The ultimate goal is to make sure Mewhort and the rest of the offensive linemen protect their franchise player, quarterback Andrew Luck, better. Luck has been sacked 73 times in two seasons. Sometimes you wonder how he manages to consistently pull himself off the ground after taking all those hits.

"I think that as long as he’s healthy and upright, and he’s got great protection, and he’s got enough weapons surrounding him, we’ll probably be here for a long time," Pagano said.
INDIANAPOLIS -- There was a familiar face, one that had been absent around the Indianapolis Colts organization for nearly two months, inside the team’s draft war room Friday night.

A picture made its way around Twitter, and in it stood a sharply dressed man in a dark colored suit standing next to coach Chuck Pagano.

Owner Jim Irsay was back in his familiar setting.

Ponder
Irsay
"[It] was a shot of adrenalin," Pagano said. "He brings so much to the table and to the organization. He is the organization. He is the 'shoe.' To have Jim back in the building and back in the room with us today was pretty darn special."

Irsay had been in a rehabilitation facility getting treatment since March 17 after he was arrested the day before for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He faces four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance. A sign that Irsay was out of the treatment facility was when the Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward said he would give the pitch to the NFL owners about Indianapolis hosting the Super Bowl in 2018 during the league meeting in Atlanta later this month. Irsay was also up to his old habit of tweeting again on Thursday.

Irsay wasn’t just sitting around watching during the draft. He quizzed general manager Ryan Grigson about potential players they might take with the No. 59 and 90 picks. He asked about alternative options if the players they were interested in weren’t available and potential trades.

Being a part of the day-to-day activities is where Irsay, a former general manager of the Colts, feels comfortable.

The Colts selected Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort in the second round and Mississippi receiver Donte Moncrief in the third round.

"It was great," Grigson said. "He brings great energy, football wisdom, all the years of experience. He knows how to push my buttons in terms of when we're making a pick, seeing if I'm really feeling it. Same with Chuck. He looks you in the eye and wants to know about the player, wants to be able to feel that passion when you're making that pick and know that you really want that guy.

"He has a great feel for that kind of thing. He can tell when he's talking with you who you like and who you just kind of like or maybe just fills a need. He wants to know the plan. He wants to know if he's not there, what we're going to do."

It’s uncertain how much longer Irsay will be around the team. Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the league’s owners meeting in Orlando, Florida, in March that Irsay is subject to league discipline for his arrest but that he would wait "to understand the facts" before making a decision.

His initial hearing in March was postponed.

"We obviously will want to understand the facts before we take any steps as it relates to any potential discipline," Goodell said in March. "Obviously any policies or any laws that are broken, whether you're commissioner or owner or player or coach, those are subject to discipline."

But for one night, things were back to normal at the Colts facility on the west side of Indianapolis.

Luck will have abundance of weapons

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Andrew LuckKyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsThe Colts should enter training camp with a healthy group of skill players, including Reggie Wayne.
INDIANAPOLIS – Andrew Luck isn’t a dreamer. You won’t find him with his feet propped up on his couch at home or fantasizing while he’s flying across the Atlantic Ocean to a soccer match in Europe thinking about the plethora of offensive weapons he’ll have at his disposal next season.

It’s understandable that the Indianapolis Colts quarterback doesn’t want to look too far ahead after what he went through last season.

So we’ll look ahead for Luck.

The third-year quarterback led the Colts to an 11-5 record last season, despite missing five offensive starters.

Things should be different next season. He'll have plenty of options, more than he's had his first two seasons in Indianapolis.

Receiver Reggie Wayne (knee), tight end Dwayne Allen (hip), running backs Vick Ballard (knee) and Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) are expected to be healthy, and the Colts added depth at receiver by signing former New York Giant Hakeem Nicks, who had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2010-11.

As crazy as it might seem, you have to wonder: Will there be enough footballs to go around for everybody?

Nicks
"It's a good problem to have," coach Chuck Pagano said. "There's only one football. When you have great competitors and great players like we have, they all want the rock at the same time. They all certainly know you only have one football. It's a great situation that we have getting those guys back, getting Dwayne back, Ahmad, Vick, Reggie and then adding Hakeem. It's a great situation."

It is a great situation, especially when you take into consideration how quickly bodies went down last season for the Colts.

Allen in Week 1. Ballard in between Weeks 2 and 3. Bradshaw in Week 3. Wayne in Week 7.

It got to the point where it wasn't embarrassing to have to do a quick Internet search for players such as receiver Da'Rick Rogers and tight end Weslye Saunders.

Luck still managed to do a lot with a little last season. The Colts averaged 24.4 points, which was 14th in the league, so there is no doubt he can be even more effective with a full cupboard.

That is a scary thought for opposing defensive coordinators.

"It's all about us being on the same page and with the same agenda, and that's winning," Wayne said. "It's always been about that inside our locker room, and that's why I don't see it being a problem."

Egos are something the Colts don't have to worry about when it comes to who is getting the most attention from Luck. That is part of the reason they have made the playoffs each of Luck’s first two seasons. He and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton will make sure everybody is involved in the offense in some way.

All of Luck's weapons bring something different, which is why the potential of this offense is even more promising.

Wayne is a possession receiver, that security blanket Luck can go to no matter the situation. Hilton is the cocky, speedy player who has no problem letting the defensive backs know when he's made a play on them. Wayne described Nicks as a receiver nobody can cover one-on-one.

The tight end group of Coby Fleener and Allen, the better of the two, has the potential to become one of the top duos in the league. You also can’t forget about the running back trio of Trent Richardson, Ballard and Bradshaw. They don’t have to be dominant, just effective enough to ease some of the pressure on Luck.

"There’s going to be enough [balls to go around]," Hilton said. "We’re a team, so when one guy is having fun, then we all have fun. As long as we're winning and doing the right things, we should be good."

The key, of course, is everybody remaining healthy, and the offensive line has to do its part for the first time with Luck under center. The line will have questions again because Khaled Holmes, who only played 12 snaps last season, has the inside track to be the team's starting center.

That is why Luck and others aren't getting ahead of themselves with the expectations of having an offense that can keep up with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, who led the league in scoring at almost 38 points a game last season.

“On paper, we look great. I’m very excited,” Allen said. “I’m really eager to get us all out and together and moving around to see how well we mesh together, and see what different combinations the coaches come up with to put on the field.”

Analyzing Kiper Grade A draft: Colts 

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
12:15
PM ET
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 -- The question was going to come up the moment the Houston Texans released safety Danieal Manning on Monday.

Manning
Do the Indianapolis Colts have any interest in Manning?

That's a legitimate question considering the Colts lost Antoine Bethea to San Francisco three weeks ago and don't have a clear-cut starter there yet.

But the answer is no, the Colts do not have any interest in Manning.

Not yet at least.

Things could change if Manning remains on the free-agent market for a while, but his price tag is too high at the moment. Manning was scheduled to make around $4.5 million with the Texans and he may be looking for a deal around that same price range. The 31-year-old reportedly is meeting Tuesday with the Cincinnati Bengals and Thursday with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Manning played in only six games last season because of a knee injury after playing at least 13 in his first seven seasons, including all 16 games four times.

During the NFL owners meetings last week, Colts coach Chuck Pagano talked about safeties Delano Howell and Sergio Brown on the roster as possible replacements for Bethea and that they will look at selecting one in the draft May 8-10.

The Colts have about $13.4 million in salary-cap space remaining if they do decide to make a run at a free-agent safety.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The initial thought by the Indianapolis Colts and safety Antoine Bethea was that they would have a chance to work out a new deal during the offseason.

Those thoughts changed as the offseason progressed because the communication between the two sides got less and less.

Then, it happened. Bethea, who started every game he played in during his eight years with the Colts, signed a deal with the San Francisco 49ers on the same day free agency started on March 11.

“It’s tough to have to replace a guy that this organization had for eight years and played the way he played and what he did for the Colts and the city,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s a harsh reality of today’s NFL -- you can’t keep everybody, and that’s what hurt. But you have to move on.”

Like general manager Ryan Grigson, Pagano talked about Delano Howell and Sergio Brown as potential in-house candidates to replace Bethea alongside LaRon Landry at safety.

The Colts' coach turned his attention to the draft and said they would like to select a safety.

“There are some great safeties in the draft,” Pagano said. “We have our board set, we’ll tweak it as we go through the month of April, go to pro days and gather information on the draft. We’ll see how the draft goes and how the board is once we get to our first pick. It’ll be nice to get a young one in the fold, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Here are the top 10 safeties in the May draft according to Scouts Inc. Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor are projected to be first-round picks.

 

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