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PAGANO TALKS INJURIES AND HOME FIELD HEADING INTO HOME OPENER

Posted by Kevin Bowen on September 14, 2012 – 2:21 pm

Chuck Pagano heads into his first home game as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts pleased with where his team is at less than 48 hours away from kickoff.

The Colts wrapped up practice on Friday morning and one final walk-through is all that stands between the Vikings and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.

“I felt like we had an excellent week of practice in preparation for this ballgame. I thought the guys came in and did a nice job of putting the last ballgame behind them and then moving forward,” Pagano said.

“We had three great days of practice. We’ve got our mock game tomorrow and then get ready to tee it up on Sunday.”

Pagano addressed some injury news heading into Sunday’s contest and announced that outside linebacker Dwight Freeney will miss the Vikings game due to an ankle injury.

The team will count on a trio of outside linebackers in Mario Addison, Justin Hickman and Jerry Hughes in Freeney’s absence.

“Someone’s going to step up and fill in,” Pagano said. “You’ve got a player of (Freeney’s) caliber that’s not on the field, that always hurts. That’s like not having Pat (Angerer). We’d all love to have Pat Angerer out there every snap. But injuries happen, so it’s next man up.”

At the wide receiver position, Austin Collie (concussion) not practice on Thursday and is questionable heading into the Vikings.

Rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is back from a shoulder injury and is expected to play on Sunday.

Along with Hilton, it looks like the Colts might get some good news along the injury front in regards to offensive tackle Winston Justice (concussion).

“(Justice) went the last two days, he’s still questionable, but anticipating,” Pagano said. “He’s been getting better every day, feeling great out there. So anticipate him being ready and able to go. We’ll list him as questionable, but he’s looked good the last couple days.”

With the injury situation aside, the Colts can count on having the home crowd behind them on Sunday.

The Colts were 2-0 in the preseason at Lucas Oil Stadium and ever since taking the job in January, Pagano hasn’t shied away from talking about the importance of protecting your home turf.

“You’ve got to take advantage of home field,” Pagano said. “I told them early on, you win your home games and split on the road you’re probably going to make the playoffs every year. There may be an exception here or there, but you’ve got to win your home games.”

“We’ve got a great fan base, great venue in Lucas Oil to play in. It’s paramount that we go out, start fast, play extremely well and get a win.”


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