“Just an injury update – of course Rashaan Melvin is going to go to IR, open up a spot. We signed a quarterback, you guys saw that. Excited to have Brad (Kaaya) here. Liked him coming out. Good talent; (we’ll) take a look at him.“
-Pagano announcing that Colts top cornerback Rashaan Melvin is done for the season, as well as the signing of quarterback Brad Kaaya.
Melvin has missed the last four and a half games, so this isn’t that surprising. With a game left, stuff like putting him on IR happens all of the time. The bigger part here is signing Kaaya, which still on its own isn’t all that big of a deal. It could mean a couple of things, both pointing toward the future. However, the biggest thing is that Kaaya is a likely replacement for Scott Tolzien.
-Pagano on if Colts safety Clayton Geathers is back.
Geathers was a healthy scratch last week (considered non-injury related). It wasn’t specified why. However, it’s good to see that there’s nothing bigger brewing here.
“It’s the last rodeo, is what I told them. I had a picture of a guy on a bucking bronco with the spurs on it. It’s our last ride together. No team that I’ve ever been a part of has ever been the same, regardless of the record. That’s just the National Football League. This is our last rodeo together. We’re going to enjoy and embrace every single second of it and get obsessed with completion. That’s what successful people do – they get obsessed with completion. We need to complete this season. No better way than to go out with a win.”
-Pagano on his message to the team at the end of the year.
“Yeah, credit all those new guys that we have, especially the free agent guys – (Johnathan) Hankins and (Al) Woods, (Margus) Hunt, (Jabaal) Sheard. (John) Simon we’ve missed, obviously. We didn’t know those guys. (Jon) Bostic. Especially on the defensive side, there are more, but those guys have been all-stars. Because it’s not easy coming into a place, and you’re new and into a locker room, fitting in and buying into the culture and all that stuff. And so, those guys have rose to the occasion week in and week out to prepare. Again, we haven’t been able to finish the way we wanted to finish these games, but those guys have been unsung heroes. The young guys, the rookies that have played a significant amount of time, have done a great job. There’s no talk of rookie walls and this, that and (the other). All they do is they come in and they work and they prepare and they’ve gotten better. But again, our vets – the Darius Butlers, Adam (Vinatieri), Anthony (Castonzo). He doesn’t say much, but all he does is – he’s available. Castonzo, he’s there every single week. He wasn’t supposed to play the first time we played these guys (the Houston Texans) down there. Didn’t practice Wednesday, Thursday. A little bit Friday. Tested it before the game. Played his best game, so we won’t let him practice this week. And I told him, I said, ‘You’re not practicing. You’re going to sit this thing out.’ He did. He played his best game. He’s played really good, and he’s been as solid as anybody week after week after week after week, year after year. Grateful for all those guys.”
-Pagano on guys who have unexpectedly stepped up as leaders this year.
One of the biggest things that new general manager Chris Ballard stressed about bringing in new players was that they would need to fit into the locker room. So far, it sounds like those guys fit it.
The following is Pagano during his Friday press conference.
“Portion of opening statement:
‘Had a great week of practice. Love this team; love these guys. Regardless of the circumstances and the record, they continue to go out and work and compete and prepare. Great pros; great professionals. We’ve had a great week and they’ve done a great job. The coaches have done a great job so we’re excited about this opportunity.’
‘You’ve always insisted on controlling the controllables and focusing on the seven-day life cycle. How at-peace are you with knowing that whatever happens, happens after Sunday?’
‘Great peace. Couldn’t be in a better spot.’
‘Do you have any idea as to what might happen?’
‘Where’s our focus right now? You just said it. Now you want me to get away from the process. We can’t do that, okay. Worry about today. When tomorrow comes, we’ll worry about tomorrow. We’ve got a huge game against the Texans coming up. It’s a must-win.’”
That definitely sounds like a guy who’s at peace with the inevitability of his dismissal.
“It’s been unbelievable. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity that they’ve given to me. To be able to, like you said, grow with me through this time. It’s just been an unbelievable experience.”
-Brissett on the opportunity he was given by the Colts to play and start from near the beginning of the season on such short notice.
“Nah, nope. When I got here they were a game away from the Super Bowl, and when you’ve got 12 (Andrew Luck) under center, you’ve always got a chance to win games. So, I don’t regret it at all.”
-Colts running back Frank Gore on if he has any regrets of signing in Indianapolis three years ago.
Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri on his future.
“‘Where are you with your contract for next year and even just playing next year?’
‘Well, I’ve got a game left on my contract, obviously, and then plan on playing again next year. I feel like my body is still in good shape, and I can help and contribute to a team. So, hopefully it’s here. We’ll see. It’s a business. I understand how all that works, so we’ll see where it goes.’
‘You’d like to stay here, right?’
‘Yeah, obviously, this is a family to me. I’ve been in this building for a long time. I know most of the people that work in it, if not all of them, and obviously, these guys in the locker room fighting on the field with me are my brothers as well. So, it’d be nice to stick around. My family is comfortable here, but we’ll see how it goes.’
‘Does the coaching staff or Andrew Luck’s status affect your decision?’
‘For sure. That all plays a factor. I’ve been very fortunate to play on two very successful teams, franchises, over 22 years, and I enjoy playing on teams that win games. So, hopefully we can get back there on this team as well, but that always plays a factor. It’s fun playing in January, February. It’s fun having a chance to play for a championship, and that definitely weighs in on all decisions.’”
“I think he’s a guy who his value is in all of the things that he can play. You look at Joe, you look at a lot of the guys this season and you look back and one of the things that I think I’m most pleased – I’ve mentioned the position coaches and the job they’ve done. But you look at the young players, Joe being one of those young players that’s come along and found a niche. Whether that’s playing guard, playing tackle, playing on the right side, left side – that’s his calling card, is his versatility.”
-Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski on offensive lineman Joe Haeg’s positional value.
Many people brought this up after this quote, and it has merit. Haeg has been thrown into many guard and tackle roles over the last two years; has it stunted his growth, not having settled into one role?
“He’s played both (guard and tackle). We felt like tackle was his position he’s most comfortable with, especially coming off the injuries. That was where we wanted to get him back into.”
-Chudzinski on offensive lineman Denzelle Good‘s positional value.
Same here with Good, but they at least feel comfortable with him most in a certain spot.
“The first thing that you noticed is it wasn’t too big for him. He was excited for the opportunity. Went in and performed and made some plays. There are things that he’d like to do over again. I know that he’ll get those opportunities again this week, and I think he’ll improve. Usually you see a pretty good jump from one week to the next when a guy has his first significant playing time, and we would expect Anthony (Walker) to go down that road. But I think – not at all surprised he played well because he practiced well, and not all surprised at the mistakes he made because of inexperience. I think that the more experience he gets the better he’ll play. He’ll play faster.”
-Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino on inside linebacker Anthony Walker Jr.’s debut last week as a starter.
Now that Walker is healthy and opportunity knocked, he is in a starting role. Now, the question is, will he continue that into the 2018 season?
“Well, I think that what Quincy (Wilson) does best are the things that he did best when we evaluated him. He’s physical. He can stay sticky in the right types of coverages. If he’s off and it’s a man (coverage), that’s tough for any corner, so we’re not going to ask Quincy to do a lot of that. What you see with him is when he gets his hands on guys, he’s pretty hard to beat early in the down. Late in the down sometimes, athletically he’s going to get beaten, but early in the down a lot of times if he wins, the quarterback takes their eyes off of that guy that he’s covering so that helps. I think that the place he can still improve, similar to Tarell (Basham), I think we talked about Tarell Basham last week and his pro-approach to preparation. I think that can still ramp up. That’s not to say that it’s a lack of work ethic or anything in that nature. It’s just a matter of, okay, how do our best guys, how do our best veteran guys prepare during the week? What do they study? How do they study, and who do they study with? And I think that once Quincy figures that out, he’s going to be able to continue to make strides. Right now, just based on where he is and the amount of snaps he’s played, a lot of times he’s seeing these route concepts and it’s the first time he’s seen them at this speed with NFL players. So, we’re learning as we go with Quincy, but happy with where he is as a competitor.”
-Monachino evaluating rookie cornerback Quincy Wilson after an extended period of starting.
Wilson in the eye of the coaches is fascinating to me. Almost every week during his availability, Monachino is asked about multiple young/rookie players, including Wilson. He (Pagano as well) always seems to find a way to say positive things, but in a backwards compliment sort of way. How the coaches talk about guys like Basham and Malik Hooker always seems to carry a different tone than how they speak about Wilson. Let’s see how/if that carries over with the next coaching staff.
“Those guys were brought here for that reason. They were brought here to contribute and to play well, and both of them have done a good job. Barkevious (Mingo) in a limited role early in the year, what he was doing for us was valuable. Margus the same thing. When he and Goose (Henry Anderson) were both in there together in some of our sub stuff, they were pretty hard to handle both of them because they’re big and they’re long and they’re athletic as heck. But, not at all surprised by those two guys emerging as players. I know that this is probably more defense than either of them has ever been asked to play in our league, and they’ve responded to that challenge. And both of them have done a bunch of good things. They’ve still got their warts, just like we all do, but they have not shied away one bit. ‘I came here to be a role player and a backup.’ I don’t think that crosses anybody’s mind at any point.”
-Monachino on Barkevious Mingo and Margus Hunt having to play extended time because of injuries.
Both Mingo and Hunt were considered retread draft busts before getting to Indianapolis. Many people outside of Colts Nation probably don’t know the change, but Mingo and Hunt have been impressive both in their roles as reserves and when forced in as starters.
Here is the transcript of Luck’s first media availability since going on IR and returning from Europe.
“‘You were shut down on November 2. Can you take us through chronologically what you did, where you went and what treatment you received after that date?’
‘Yeah. So November 2nd, pretty soon after that I went over to the Netherlands and started doing rehab with the trainer that I’ve worked with in the past and I trust very much. There’s really not much more to it than that. We just rehabbed at a clinic in the Netherlands. Nothing crazy, no injections. Nothing out of the ordinary. A lot of rehab and a lot of work and made a lot of progress.’
‘Would it be classified as strength training? What would you classify it as?’
‘Classify. Yeah – rehab, strength training and soft tissue work.’
‘At what point did you realize you needed to go over to the Netherlands?’
‘That’s a good question. I think I realized in my mind that it was necessary for me to sort of get away because I was allowing myself to get pulled in too many directions and it was hard for me to keep a singular focus on just getting better and getting better and getting better. I think I allowed myself to become a distraction, which I did not want to be. I think I just needed to keep it simple and that meant getting away. I think it’s been very productive and it’s also nice to be back.’
‘When you say that you were pulled in different directions, do you mean medically?’
‘Mentally, and just the ability to focus on getting better every single day if that makes sense.’
‘Can you compare how your shoulder feels now to how it felt in late September?’
‘Yeah, no, it feels stronger, more stable, more confident in it. It’s better.’
‘Last time we saw you, you were making throws on the far sideline. Was it a matter of just taking longer for the soreness to go away?’
‘I was experiencing pain still. That scared me because I started to sort of remember the previous year and why I had surgery in the first place, because I was feeling pain while doing things. I think that was something that hit my mind and precipitated these events happening.’
‘Could you have received the same treatment over here in the United States?’
‘The therapist that I worked with, his resources were over in the Netherlands and clinic and other help. So that’s why – in one specific place. So no, I could not have done what I did there here from some of the people involved aspect of it.’
‘So not medically?’
‘There are certain procedures you can do over there that you can’t do here.’
‘Yes, so no medical procedures that were done over there.’
‘Have you thrown a football recently?’
‘No, I have not.’
‘When will you?’
‘We’re preparing to throw a football, if that makes sense. I’m sort of (on) a progression to get to that point, and a lot of it still has to do with me and getting my strength back to a better level. I still have a ways to go there and I really don’t want to skip any steps along the way. I do not think I need another surgery. I think I’m on the right path. I think I’m on the right progression and am trusting in that. We’re in the process now of sort of preparing to get a football in my hands pretty soon.’
‘So you’re preparing as if there is no second surgery planned?’
‘Is the only way to know that when you start throwing and the soreness does or does not come back?’
‘No, I wouldn’t say it’s the only way to know – the surgery. My gut and my feeling tells me that I do not need another surgery. I think I need to work more and more time and to stay on this straight and narrow, if you will. I don’t want it to sound like throwing is the test. I’m doing well and will continue to do well; that’s how I feel today.’
‘If you had to do this all over again, would you have had surgery sooner?’
‘That’s a good question and I haven’t thought about that. No, I’m not going to entertain the question because I don’t think it’s healthy to live in the past.’
‘Coach Pagano mentioned you went through hell in this recovery.’
‘I don’t know about that.’
‘It’s been a year since you’ve played a football game, though. What have the last 12-plus months been like for you?’
‘I’m not going to act like I’m unique. Every NFL player – the injury rate is 100 percent in this league. That’s true. But like any guy who’s injured, it’s not easy to watch your teammates go play. I do realize with football, what I value most out of it are your teammates and going out there and competing with guys, playing against another team and to miss that is difficult. You do not feel like you’re a part of the team. It feels weird, but I don’t feel like I’m a part of this team right now. You can ask any injured guy that’s on IR. We’ve talked about this; you don’t. You just don’t feel like you can contribute. You try and you try to help out, especially when you’re around, you try to help out Jacoby (Brissett) or the other quarterbacks or the guys. It’s just an odd feeling. So it’s not been fun and it’s not been easy. Certainly having a purpose and being able to work towards that purpose, which for me is getting healthy, is important. I think that’s also part of the reason why I needed to get away was to be able to focus on that. I think 100 percent. Still a lot to do and a lot to learn, but I don’t want to act like I’m the only one who has ever gone through an injury or a surgery in this league because I know I’m not.’
‘Do you expect to throw by the end of January? Do you have a timeframe for when you would like to start throwing?’
‘Yeah, well, I’d like to start as soon as I can. I know it’s a vague answer. That means me feeling physically confident enough to get going. We’re on a progression; I’m not going to put a date on it. I think it’s unfair to myself; I think it’s unfair to anybody else involved. So as soon as I can.’
‘Are you concerned that if you wait any bit longer the start of the 2018 season could be in jeopardy for you?’
‘No, I don’t see that being in jeopardy at all.’
‘We’re always looking for timetables. Are you optimistic as you can be for OTAs, training camp – all the regular offseason events, you will be ready to go?’
‘I’m very optimistic. I feel really good today. I do not think I need another surgery. I believe in the process I’m in right now. I’ve had great help, so I hope to continue to get better. Yeah, I plan on being ready for everything.’
‘Everything official; NFL offseason schedule.’
‘So maybe April?’
‘Is that a timeline (Mike) Chappell (laughs)? Yes, I plan on being ready.’
‘Last time we saw you, you were improving, throwing and looking to return this season. What was your initial reaction when they put you on IR?’
‘I understood. A couple times you look in the mirror and realize that realistically, there was not a chance for me to play when we figured out around that time of the year. It was weird and tough to sort of switch gears from, ‘I’m preparing to get better, to play in this season and to help the team.’ To then switch to, ‘Okay, now, I’m just preparing to get healthy in general.’ It was difficult to come to terms with, but like anything, you move on and the focus sort of switched maybe a little bit then, yeah.’
‘You mentioned that you didn’t feel like a part of the team. Outside of rehabbing, what were you doing to keep your sanity mentally?’
‘In the past eight weeks? Yeah, live a normal life, I guess. We were rehabbing eight hours a day. You put work in, be normal, clean up, vacuum, do what my girlfriend says, go to the store, get food, cook, watch TV, try and pick up some Dutch – which is a weird language. Yeah, live a normal life I guess.’
‘Why do you think the recovery has taken so long?’
‘I don’t know. I wish I could tell you because that would mean I could tell myself. I think that as a surgery on a shoulder, from what I understand, surgeries and people come out different from them with different feelings from them. I’m very happy with the surgery. It did what it needed to do. Maybe there are some other things that I have to work through that is outside of the average and that’s okay. I’ll keep working through them.’
‘What was the low point?’
‘There was a time, probably a couple weeks in to being away from here, in early December that was pretty difficult for me to sort of see the positive in things. Got through that and managed to see the positive in things a little more now.’
‘Did you watch the games?’
‘I watched what I could.’
‘What was it like watching the games from across the world?’
‘It was weird; it was really weird. It’s hard to describe. It’s like watching one of your siblings play a sport. You get really nervous and you feel quite helpless because you have zero control over what goes on and coming to terms with having zero control over what goes on I think was important for me in that regard.’
‘I can imagine as a quarterback, it was very difficult.’
‘Yeah, I think generally most guys are control freaks that play that position. Sort of letting go is one of the things I’ve had to learn and learning that has helped me a little more through this process. But yeah, watching was weird.’
‘Did it ever cross your mind that you hoped to get back to football? Did you start to question if you would ever be the same player? With your right arm, it’s what got you to the NFL.’
‘I hope it was more than just my right arm for the reason I’m in the NFL. But no, I’ve never entertained the thoughts. I assume what you’re saying is career-ending. Yeah sure, it’s crossed my mind. But I don’t think that at all. At all.’
‘The owner mentioned that some of the problems might be between your ears. Is there some accuracy to that? Did you question how you handled things?’
‘I think Mr. (Jim) Irsay’s comments maybe were taken out of context a little bit. I’ve had a lot of discussions with Mr. Irsay and I come away each time feeling very impressed with how he’s handled this team and as a person and appreciative to have a guy like him on your side, on my side. It’s awesome. I think there are mental things that anybody who’s injured goes through in any surgery – and not just football, but in any part of life. That’s something you have to work through and the frustration of not being out there is part of it. Understanding, I think naturally, I’m somewhat of an impatient person. In understanding that patience truly is a virtue and is necessary in situations has been important for me to understand.’
‘There have been concerns that there are issues between you and the organization. Has there been a time you have wanted out of Indianapolis? Can you address that at all?’
‘No, no. I was not aware of those – I guess rumors. No, that’s not true. I’m very, very happy here.’
‘You’ve spoken in past tense in regards to the pain. Would you say that right now you are pain free?’
‘Yeah, I’m not exactly where I want to be; I’m not 100 percent. I’d like to think that if I was 100 percent, I’d be suiting up for a game on Sunday. But the pain has significantly gone down and that’s why I feel so optimistic about the process and the plan that’s ahead of me.’
‘Did you stay in the Netherlands the whole time? Did you come back at all?’
‘I did. We stayed in the Netherlands the whole time. Ordered turkey from the butcher to make a Thanksgiving meal and had Christmas there. It was good.’
‘What was the treatment? What did you do there that you couldn’t do here?’
‘It had a lot to do with him (the trainer). The Colts have been really, really supportive.’
‘It was your choice to go over there and they supported you.’
‘Yes. Absolutely. Again, the resources that he had over there that were not available here, a lot of it was some people and some other things. That’s why, if I’m answering your question.’
‘Do you want to give your trainer some free publicity? What’s his name?’
‘No, he doesn’t need his name to be out there.’
‘Emotionally, just how draining has this been?’
‘Yeah, you get a little emotionally tired. I am I think a little emotionally tired from the whole process but that’s alright.’”