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Chuck Pagano: Colts Won't Rest Starters

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The Colts have clinched the AFC South title and a playoff berth. But head coach Chuck Pagano is adamant that the team won't rest their starters - though will be smart about the injured players.

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Perhaps the biggest turning point in the Bill Polian era came in the now infamous debacle that was resting the Colts' starters with an undefeated season on the line in 2009.  He then went on his radio show and called out Colts' fans who were upset about it.  From that point on, Polian never truly earned back the unquestioned support and trust of the many fans who wanted the team to try for the 16-0 regular season.

Of course, the whole issue of resting starters was nothing new for that Colts regime.  In fact, it seemed like most years (2006, the year they won the Super Bowl, was a notable exception) the Colts sat several of their key players to rest them up for the playoffs.  Fans didn't always like it, but these new era Colts aren't even messing around with it: they're absolutely not resting their starters, head coach Chuck Pagano said today.

"We're going to play 16 games, and we're going to prepare to try to go win this football game," Pagano said today. "Forget being in the playoffs or not, that's just our mindset. That's how we roll. So if a guy needs some time because he's injured and he needs some time to heal up, then we'll make that decision whatever's best for the player, whatever's best for the team, all that stuff."  In other words, Pagano said that the Colts won't rest their starters but will be wise about injuries and rest the guys who need it.

So Pagano doesn't have any inkling to sit Andrew Luck?  "To sit him? Why?" Pagano asked, before being greeted with the response that the Colts could rest him so he wouldn't get injured. "You could walk out of this building and get run over tonight," Pagano continued.  "You know what I mean. You've got to live. You go tell him. That's the way he is. We've got to make decisions, do the right thing and protect guys from themselves in the right situation. But we're going to try to win a football game and we're going to play."

Pagano mentioned that the Colts could have rested their starters in 2012 if they had wanted to, as in the last week of the season they were already locked in to their playoff spot in terms of seeding - but the Colts didn't sit the starters and instead won big against the Texans.  "We're going to play them all," Pagano said.  "Try to win them all because you never know what's going to happen. All we can control is what we can control, and we can control how we go play on Sunday. I don't what's going to happen with the rest of the division and the conference. We're going to do everything we can to give ourselves the best possible chance in the playoffs."

Of course, everyone realizes what a shift this thinking is from the previous regime.  The Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano era Colts aren't interested in sitting their starters just to prevent injury, only to heal up from injury when needed.  This is in stark contrast with the Bill Polian and Tony Dungy/Jim Caldwell era Colts, and Pagano was asked about the change.  "We have a philosophy and we're going to stick with that philosophy," he said. "I'm not worried about anybody else's philosophy. There's nothing wrong with anybody's thinking. Everybody's different. There's a lot of ways to skin a cat."

So there you have it (though this really isn't news or a surprise): the Colts will not be resting their starters this season.  Of course, they still have something to play for too.  While they've locked up the AFC South division title and are therefore guaranteed a home playoff game, there's still seeding to play for.  In fact, none of the seeds in the AFC have been secured yet, and if the Broncos (or the Patriots) falter a bit in the last two weeks, the Colts could stand a chance at a first round bye.  So it's nice to hear that the Colts won't be resting their starters, but they likely wouldn't have anyway since there's seeing on the line.