There’s probably nobody closer on the Indianapolis Colts roster, in terms of having an extended history, with coach Chuck Pagano than wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
First, Pagano was the defensive backs coach at the University of Miami when Wayne was a player there. In fact, Pagano was one of the coaches who helped entice Wayne to attend the “U.”
Years later, with Wayne firmly entrenched as one of the Colts’ premier offensive threats and Pagano serving as the defensive backs coach and then later as a defensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens, their friendship continued.
“I remember Reggie speaking to me on the sidelines during games, talking a little trash and then smiling,” Pagano recalled last spring. “I would talk to him too. We had a lot of fun with it.”
So when news came earlier this week that Pagano had been hospitalized with a rare form of leukemia, it hit Wayne especially hard.
“Everybody has dealt with it their own way. I can’t speak for everybody. I can only speak for myself. I’ve known Chuck for 16 years, so it’s a tough deal for me. At the same time, it pushes me to want to go out there and give it everything I got,” he said after Friday’s practice.
“It puts everything in perspective. We still play a kid’s game. People living out there with life decisions every day. It just pushes me more and more to go out there and play hard and give it everything I’ve got. And in some kind of way bring home a game ball for him.”
As tough as it is, Wayne is trying to keep things in perspective.
“Like I said, we look at it differently. It’s still in your mind, but when you’re in between the lines, you have to focus on the task at hand. If you don’t, then bad things happen. Either you hurt your team with something or you get hurt yourself,” he explained.
“You just have to be able to have football and then you have your personal issues in the same vain, but at the same time knowing what’s more important at that time.”
Wayne has been in contact with Pagano this week. He’s not surprised by how the coach is battling his illness.
“He’s doing good,” Wayne mentioned. “He’s looking it straight in the eyes. He understands what is going on. He understands there is a tough task in front of him. If there is somebody that can go in and hit this out of the ballpark, it is him.”
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n Pagano e-mails players, coaches — The stricken Colts coach reportedly sent e-mails to each of the team’s players and coaches from his bed at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Care Center.
Interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said that the e-mails were private, long and emotional. He plans to read the e-mail during today’s scheduled team meeting.
Arians also said he has been in contact with Pagano this week about Sunday’s offensive and defensive gameplan. He added that the coach has been viewing video of practices from his hospital bed.
“I think it helps his mind. He’s got his iPad. He’s watching [Friday’s] practice probably right now. He’s probably already got it streamed. So we’ll always talk about that,” Arians said.
n Injury list — Arians said Friday that offensive guard Joe Reitz (knee), cornerback Vontae Davis (ankle), offensive guard Seth Olsen (knee), cornerback Justin King (groin) and inside linebacker Pat Angerer (foot) will not play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (ankle), center Samson Satele (knee), tight end Coby Fleener (head) and running Mewelde Moore (ankle) will be game-time decisions.
Angerer, Davis, King, Olsen and Reitz did not practice Friday. Freeney, Moore and Satele were limited. Fleener and outside linebacker Robert Mathis (ankle) fully participated in the workout.
n Lineup changes — With Davis and King out, cornerback Cassius Vaughn will start opposite veteran Jerraud Powers. Cornerbacks Darius Butler, who was signed to the roster last week, and Josh Gordy will see action in the Colts’ nickel package.
If Satele is unable to play, A.Q. Shipley will most likely start at center with Mike McGlynn and Jeff Linkenbach starting at left and right guards respectively. Freeney is expected to play, but a final call on his availability probably won’t be made until Sunday morning.