The Indianapolis Colts players and coaches would love to win Sunday’s home game with the Green Bay Packers for coach Chuck Pagano, who has taken a leave of absence after being diagnosed with leukemia last week.
Pagano is expected to undergo treatment for at least the next six to eight weeks and will most likely not be back on a full-time basis until next season.
But as much as the Colts want to honor their stricken coach with a victory over a high-flying Green Bay team that posted an NFL-best 15-1 record last year, interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians says that Indianapolis just needs to go out and win for themselves.
That’s not being selfish, especially after a tough 22-17 home loss to AFC South rival Jacksonville two weeks ago.
Arians pointed out that Pagano agrees wholeheartedly with that kind of mindset.
“This bunch [of players] is a very resilient bunch. They know how to work. They came to work Monday and we had an excellent practice after hearing the devastation of the news that they got [about Pagano’s health issue]. I felt very good in the meetings [Wednesday] of their focus,” he voiced.
“One thing, I think, we have to be very aware of is not getting over excited, over hyped, to try and do something extra. We don’t need to do anything extra. We just need to play, coach and prepare every day like we have. And not get caught up with snot bubbles and tears. They don’t beat anybody.”
Picking up a win over a tough Green Bay team wouldn’t be easy under normal circumstances. But with Pagano undergoing treatment in an Indianapolis-area hospital, getting their concentration back on the task at hand is made that much tougher.
“We all want to win the game for a lot of reasons. But we can’t put extra expectations on it because of what has happened,” Arians said, adding that he stressed that point during a team meeting Wednesday morning.
“I think as time progresses, the initial shock waves [about Pagano’s absence] will be over. The initial shock waves of this thing, you can’t get too caught up in that emotion.
“The football field is kind of our safe haven. And when we get out there, it’s business as usual and we stay there. We stay focused at that moment one play at a time, one day at a time. That’s just what we have to do. We can’t get caught up. It’s going to really happen Sunday. I think more and more as the week progresses, more and more emphasis is going to be try to win this game for Chuck. Chuck doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want to put that extra pressure on these guys. Just win the game because we want to win the game. And that’ll be the extra icing on the cake to give him that birthday present.”
Once news of Pagano’s medical situation became known, the Colts’ offices have been besieged with letters and messages of support for the team’s coach. Many of those messages have come from those in the NFL community.
“People don’t realize the brotherhood [in] this business, particularly those guys like Chuck and myself who have been in it for awhile and have moved 13 times. You meet a lot of guys. And when you’re on a [coaching] staff, the guys truly become your brothers. [Messages received from other NFL coaches] shows the class of those individuals and the class of our profession,” Arians noted.
“I’m extremely touched by the [Indianapolis] community and all the support that they’ve shown. We’re going to do our best to represent and do what it takes to make everything work.”
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n Roster moves — The Colts signed outside linebacker Mario Addison, who had been waived off the active roster Monday, to the team’s practice squad.
Indianapolis also added defensive end Clifton Geathers to the practice squad. The Colts released nose tackle Nicolas Jean-Baptiste from the practice squad.
Geathers (6-7, 325) has appeared in seven career games, including five last season with the Dallas Cowboys. He was originally drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He was waived by the Browns before being acquired from waivers by the Miami Dolphins.
The Seattle Seahawks signed Geathers midseason a year ago and waived him a few weeks later. He was then acquired from waivers by the Cowboys and re-signed with the team on April 20, 2012 before being waived Aug. 31.
n Injury list — Sitting out Wednesday’s practice were cornerback Vontate Davis (ankle), cornerback Justin King (groin), running back Mewelde Moore (ankle), offensive guard Seth Olsen (knee) and offensive guard Joe Reitz (knee).
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer (foot), rookie tight end Coby Fleener (head) and center Samson Satele (knee) all saw limited work. Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (ankle) went through a full practice session.
“We’ll see how it goes after practice [for Angerer] and how it feels as the week goes on. Dwight, we’ll see how he progresses. Samson [worked] some today. And Joe Reitz, we’ll wait and see,” Arians said.
“Vontae and Justin [did] not work [Wednesday]. We’re going to be day-to-day with them. They’re progressing nicely, they’re close. It’ll be a day-to-day thing and we’ll see how they go.”
Cornerbacks Cassius Vaughn and Darrius Butler will get the first chances to replace Davis and King in the rotation. If Satele is a no-go Sunday. Mike McGlynn or A.Q. Shipley could get the nod at center.
“All the guys that we have will be ready and available. We’re going to take it to the wire with the guys that have been starters and see what they’re capable of doing,” the Colts’ interim coach said.