Indianapolis Colts Football

COLTS TALK MATHIS, WAYNE

Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 27, 2012 – 4:17 pm

With postseason awards rapidly approaching, the Colts got a pair of nods on Wednesday evening with wide receiver Reggie Wayne and outside linebacker Robert Mathis being named to the Pro Bowl.

For Wayne, the selection is his sixth in the past seven seasons and it’s hard to quantify what he has meant to such a young Colts offense.

“I think one, his knack for showing up in big times,” Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said of what stands out to him about Wayne. “Big moments, he controls them. He’s going to make the catch. He’s going to make the play. He’s going to get the first-down, the touchdown, whatever you need. He’s going to make the big plays.”

At the age of 34, Wayne is 10 years older than nearly half of the Colts starters on offense and coordinator Bruce Arians pointed to what the Pro Bowl receiver has done off the field more than his receiving numbers.

I’ve said it so many times, his leadership ability with the young guys has been outstanding,” Arians said. “The fact that you know he can still perform and play football but what he’s done leadership-wise has gone above and beyond Pro Bowl status with me.”

The selection of Mathis is the fifth straight and comes during a season in which he has eight sacks in 11 games played.

This offseason, the questions were rampant about how Mathis would adjust to the stand up position at linebacker but he has quietly gone about his business while earning another trip to Hawaii.

“It’s amazing a guy like that, that’s played defensive end for as many years as he has, and then transfer him over to two-point stance. It’s kind of like dinosaurs and cavemen,” Manusky said of Mathis.

“The best thing about it was the guy knows football and I’ll tell you he took his job and profession like he was a rookie, a young guy. He was just sucking up as much information as he could. It was just great to see him have success out in the field like he does each and every week.”

While Mathis did smile when asked about the thought of a trip to Hawaii this time of year, he is hoping to have plans when the Pro Bowl is played the week before the Super Bowl.

“It sounds real nice, just the thought of kicking sand and just jumping in some salt water and watching my boys crawl around it,” Mathis said. “A great thought but I’d much rather be down in New Orleans getting ready for the big show.”


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Miracle on West 56th Street

Posted by Chuck Chapman on December 24, 2012 – 9:47 am

Frank Capra would take one look at a script for the Colts 2012 season and say, “Nah, too far-fetched. An audience would never buy this story.” And yet the Colts have produced in real life a story that would have sounded utterly ridiculous had you sketched it out at the beginning of training camp.

Like “It’s a Wonderful Life” the Colts 2012 highlight film starts with an ominous beginning and moves through what could have been tragedy toward a story-book ending. But instead of George Bailey being helped out by an angel named Clarence, the Colts version has Bruce Arians, a career NFL assistant coach, being helped out week after week by a rookie named Andrew trying to earn his wings as an NFL quarterback.

When the Colts jettisoned over half their roster last off-season and hired a new general manager, Ryan Grigson, with no previous experience in the position, everyone wrote off 2012 as a necessary growing pain. You don’t overhaul your roster like that in the NFL, especially while being severely limited by the salary cap. You certainly don’t do it while breaking in a rookie quarterback, succeeding a legend, playing behind an offensive line anchored by a second year pro that hadn’t played a down together. And you don’t do it with a new coaching staff, headed by a coach, who like Grigson, had no experience at the position. If the Colts equaled their 2-14 mark of 2011, no one would be surprised.

But Grigson and his front office elves assembled a roster of cast-offs like Cory Redding and Tom Zbikowski and players trying to recreate their careers like Donnie Avery. He sprinkled a Jerrell Freeman, who was a force north of the border, but hadn’t done anything to make the NFL take notice. In April, he added a draft class that would produce five starters out of 10 picks.

Then he handed all these parts over to Chuck Pagano, Bruce Arians and Greg Manusky to see what they could make of them. Things looked promising in the preseason. The quarterback, Andrew Luck, amazingly began his career with a touchdown pass, just like the legend he was following. “He could be pretty decent,” everyone thought. “Maybe they’ll win six or seven this year.”

Then in week one the Chicago Bears introduced this motley assortment to the NFL. There was a lot of work to do. They beat the Vikings at home, but the Vikings were about as bad as the Colts were last year, so that couldn’t be counted as a great win. Then right before the bye, the Jacksonville Jaguars came to Lucas Oil Stadium and broke the Colts’ hearts with an 80 yard slant route to win the game right before time expired.

The young Colts were 1-2 heading into the bye week with the Green Bay Packers waiting on the other side. Things couldn’t be much worse. That was before Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia.

Bruce Arians was introduced in an emotional news conference where Jim Irsay broke the news to the public. The Colts’ new head coach wouldn’t be fighting for wins. He was fighting for his life.

Suddenly football seemed an afterthought. The Packers were still coming in and with all the distractions surrounding Pagano, the Colts would be lucky to stay within four touchdowns.

In the first half, it looked like that would happen. The Colts headed to the locker room trailing 21-3. The only question was whether or not Arians could prevent the game from becoming a total rout.

It was at this moment, in that locker room, that Capra began writing the Colts’ script. Instead of limping home for the final 30 minutes and being 1-3, ChuckStrong was born. The Colts rallied with the spirit of their stricken coach and erased the Packers lead, emerging with a 30-27 victory.

From there the Colts won eight of their 11 games. All but one of those wins came by a score or less. Several games seemed lost, but the Colts dug deep, finding a mysterious strength and found a way to win.

Sunday’s win in Kansas City was just another part of this amazing story. The offense struggled. The defense was yielding huge chunks of yardage on the ground. Yet when the final gun sounded, there were the Colts, victorious and proud owners of the fifth seed in the NFL playoffs.

If the story ended there, we would all watch the credits roll and go home having enjoyed a wonderful show. But that’s not all. These Colts aren’t finished writing their story.

Chuck Pagano will return to work this week. He’s finished with his chemotherapy and declared fit to come back by his doctors. He’s won the battle for his life against leukemia. Now he will be on the sideline this week when the Colts meet the Texans in the season finale.

More importantly, he’ll be on the sidelines when the Colts take the field, most likely in Pagano’s (and the Colts’) old home of Baltimore in two weeks.

Whether they can continue to write additional chapters after that remains to be seen, but what they’ve come up with so far is nothing short of a miracle.

Yes, Colts fans, your team is in the playoffs. Believe.

 

Chuck Chapman is entering his second season as the editor and lead writer for Colts 101. He also covered the Cincinnati Bengals for the Sports Media 101. Chuck and his family are originally from Ohio, but have settled in Central Indiana and become big Colts fans. You can read Chuck’s other writing about the Colts at www.colts101.com.


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PLAYERS CAN’T WAIT TO SEE PAGANO RETURN

Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 20, 2012 – 8:34 am

The inquiries were not about bouncing back from a loss, the Chiefs or possible playoff scenarios.

Instead, Colts players fielded questions about the potential return of their friend, and head coach, Chuck Pagano to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

“It’s going to be crazy,” safety Antoine Bethea said. “It’s going to be a great moment, just having him back on an everyday basis with the team, knowing that’s what he really wants, back with us coaching and back on the sideline. Obviously we know it’s going to be emotional. It’s going to be a great time.”

The definite date of when Pagano returns has not been determined but interim head coach Bruce Arians said the goal remains for sometime next week.

While his message has remained with the Colts players, having Pagano’s physical presence around the facility will be a welcoming sight.

“We are so blessed to have a leader like Chuck,” offensive guard Joe Reitz said. “We’ve all been praying for him and are glad that things have gone well. I think we all look forward to the day when he’s back in there, hopefully sooner rather than later.”

Arians also mentioned that he is looking forward to the day when his head coach will be back doing what he has longed to do.

With Arians in the interim role, the Colts are 8-3 and the players made sure to point out what an incredible job the offensive coordinator has done under unforeseen circumstances.

“Coach of the Year caliber,” outside linebacker Robert Mathis said of Arians’ performance. “Nothing short of amazing what he’s done. He’s came in and just kept the train rolling. Kudos to him.”

When the announcement of Pagano’s diagnosis came on Oct. 1, Arians stood in front of cameras and did not speak long, but brought a powerful message.

“If Chuck can’t make it back for the regular season, why can’t we extend the season?  Play a few more games until he gets back,” Arians said back on Oct. 1.

With two games remaining in the regular season the Colts are in position to not only extend the season for Chuck, but also have a chance to get their head coach back for the season finale at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“It would mean the world to us,” Mathis said of Pagano’s return. “Just for him to fight this, well he’s not fighting it alone, we are here, heart and mind and souls are with him. He’s coming back to whip this thing and get back to work.”


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HILTON CONTRIBUTING IN THE CHUNK PLAYS DEPARTMENT

Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 19, 2012 – 5:40 pm

‘Chunk’ plays have been a staple of the Colts offense during the 2012 season.

The Colts lead the NFL with 59 receptions of at least 20 yards this year.

A number of factors have contributed to that number but one of the main reasons can go back to the word Reggie Wayne chose during training camp to describe his fellow receivers—‘speed.’

Rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton falls into that burner category and his 10 catches of at least 25 yards has contributed into the big-play ability of the Colts offense.

After only catching one pass in the first two games of the season (Hilton missed the season opener with an injury), Hilton has fully recovered from an offseason injury and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians credits his confidence.

He’s playing so much faster than he did earlier in the year. He’s seeing things,” Arians said of Hilton. “I think the game has slowed down for him a little bit. He’s been doing a great job practicing. He’s got good practice habits because he’s modeling himself after Reggie (Wayne) and he’s just going to continue to get better and better.”

Hilton’s 716 receiving yards is second amongst all NFL rookies and he leads all first-year players with six touchdowns.

During his time in Pittsburgh, Arians had a knack for involving smaller, quicker receivers in his offense.

A name that Arians used earlier in the week, and may very well resonate with many Colts fans, is former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle El.

Arians does see similarities between the two but made sure to point out the fact that Hilton’s arm is not in the same category with the former Indiana University quarterback.

“El was a phenomenal athlete and probably one of the top 15 passers in the league. If T.Y. (Hilton) could throw, we’d have a lot more reverse passes,” Arians said with a laugh. “But he does remind me a lot of the quickness but I think he’s got much more top speed than El had.”

Along with his rookie leading four 100-yard receiving games, Hilton also electrified the Colts with his 75-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Bills.

Hilton will next take his big-play act to Kansas City where the elements are unknown but the goal is the exact opposite.

“It’s a must win,” Hilton said. “Win or go home for us and right now, that’s how we are taking it.”

 


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DIVING INTO THE COLTS ABILITY TO BOUNCE BACK

Posted by Kevin Bowen on – 11:00 am

The Colts ability to show their resiliency in not having back-to-back losses on the season is a major reason why they control their own destiny in making the playoffs. A fifth win following a loss is the goal this weekend and here is a closer look at the four previous times the Colts have achieved that feat this season:

Bouncing Back the First Time: Win over the Minnesota Vikings, 23-20.

The Setting: Week 2, September 16, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Result: In its home opener, the Colts held Vikings running back to a season-low of 60 rushing yards and a long rush of just six yards. The Colts jumped out a 20-6 third quarter lead but the Vikings came back and tied the score with 31 seconds remaining. Quarterback Andrew Luck orchestrated a final drive down to the Indianapolis 35-yard line before kicker Adam Vinatieri connected on a 53-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining. The 53-yard game-winning field goal was Vinatieri’s 24th of his 17-year career and the longest he has to give his team the victory.

Bouncing Back the Second Time: Win over the Green Bay Packers, 30-27.

The Setting: Week 5, October 7, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Result: A Week 3 home defeat to the Jaguars was followed by a bye week and the unfathomable news of head coach Chuck Pagano being diagnosed with leukemia. In playing for their sicken coach, the Colts turned in the highlight of the 2012 regular season with another final-minute comeback victory. Down 21-3 at halftime, the Colts sparked a spirited second-half charge led by the orange-clad gloves of wide receiver Reggie Wayne. With less than a minute remaining, Luck found Wayne for a four-yard, game-winning touchdown as the Pro Bowl wideout racked up 13 catches for 212 yards on the afternoon.

Bouncing Back the Third Time: Win over the Cleveland Browns, 17-13.

The Setting: Week 7, October 21, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Result: Following a 40-27 road loss to the New York Jets, the Colts returned home and began a four-game winning streak. Luck ran for two first-half touchdowns and the Colts held on to a 17-13 third quarter lead thanks to a strong defensive performance and an offense that had a 11-minute difference in time of possession. Indianapolis came into the game with a 2-3 record but the victory over the Browns would lead to seven wins over the next eight weeks for the Colts.

Bouncing Back the Fourth Time: Win over the Buffalo Bills, 20-13.

The Setting: Week 12, November 21, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Result: A month after following up a road loss to an AFC East team, the Colts were up to their old tricks again. Similar to the win over the Vikings, the Colts took at 20-6 third quarter lead but this time held on without any final-minute theatrics. Rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton became the first Colts rookie to return a punt for a touchdown and record a receiving touchdown in the same game. Hilton’s 75-yard punt return for a touchdown was the first for a Colts player since T.J. Rushing’s 90-yarder in December of 2007.

Here are some player’s thoughts on why the Colts have been so resilient:

-Running Back Vick Ballard:

“Twenty-four hour rule. Win, lose or draw, you know that the last game is over with. You’ve got to look forward to the next week and we are going to come in Wednesday, get ready for Kansas City so we can hopefully give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs.”

-Safety Antoine Bethea:

“Regardless of whatever game we play, it’s a 24-hour rule. Win or loss, we’ve got to put it in the past and get ready for our next opponent. We’ve been doing a good job of that. Like I said, correcting the mistakes that we made in the previous game and just going out there and playing hard.”

-Outside Linebacker Dwight Freeney:

“We just realize it’s one week and whatever happened that one week, doesn’t matter for the next, whether we win or lose. You just learn from the mistakes in a win and in a loss and just move on to that next week and that is the most important game.”

-Quarterback Andrew Luck:

“I think guys want to come back and play, bounce back and atone for their mistakes. I think it’s sort of the DNA of the team and hopefully we can do that again this week. We realize it’s going to be tough against a team that is much better than their record indicates in a tough environment.”

-Defensive End Cory Redding:

“Never allow one loss to turn into two, period. You have to dig deep a little bit more to learn what you messed up on, work on it and challenge yourself to be better. If you made those mistakes a week before, don’t make them again. Don’t let one loss turn into two. We’ve come too far to reach this point to let it all go away, let it all be in vain. I won’t stand idly by and let that happen and I know my teammates won’t either. We’re going to come back this week and fight, watch tape, lift weights, run, eat right, do all we have to do to get in this game in Arrowhead and find a victory.”

-Interim head coach and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians:

“I think the biggest thing is the veteran leadership. Those guys bounce back, they know how to get the young guys off the 24-hour rule and come right back in and start working. We had really good meetings today, watched the tape, and this one will be out of our mouth by tonight and we’ll get started on Kansas City.”


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ARIANS TALKS PREPARATION, REDDING, CHIEFS AND PAGANO

Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 18, 2012 – 10:08 am

Interim head coach Bruce Arians joined ‘Voice of the Colts’ Bob Lamey on the ‘Pagano Show’ Monday evening to discuss a variety of topics. Below are a few of the highlights:

On if he thought the Texans game had a similar feeling to previous comebacks:

“That was the thing that was disappointing because those were the games that we had been winning. We knew if we could get it back to a one score game we were going to have a chance to win the football game. They made more plays at the end than we did.”

On if preparation will change at all this week coming off a loss:

“No. We will maintain our same procedure as we’ve had all year. It hasn’t been too bad for us so far. Stick to the process. We had great meetings (Monday), watched the tape and got the corrections made. I think the guys left with a positive attitude, ready to come to work Wednesday and getting this one game done.”

On why the Colts have been so successful in bouncing back from losses:

“The 24-hour rule, same with winning. It’s over. That’s why we wanted to come in and make the corrections, see what we did wrong, but also there was a lot of good things on that tape that we can take and build on. If we are fortunate enough to get into the playoffs than that is going to help us on the road. That’s more than anything why we came in (Monday) and got it done.”

On his early impressions of the Kansas City Chiefs:

“Defensively, they might be as talented of a group as we’ve seen all year. They have about seven No. 1 draft picks on that defense. They can play defense. Obviously they’ve struggled a little bit offensively with their quarterback situation with injuries. Defensively, they come and play every week.”

On what Cory Redding has meant to this team:

“I think it speaks volumes that the players voted him a captain. He was Man of the Year for our organization. He’s an outstanding individual, a great leader and has been an extremely great addition to this organization.”

On if coach Chuck Pagano is scheduled to return for the season finale on Dec. 30 against the Texans:

“That’s out plan. We are hoping so and everything is heading to that. Hopefully, no setbacks this week and that will be the best Christmas present anyone can give us.”

 


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BALLARD’S CAREER DAY STOPS TEXANS STREAK

Posted by Kevin Bowen on – 8:58 am

Heading into Sunday’s game with the Texans, the staunch Houston rush defense ranked second in the NFL and had not let a 100-yard rusher in 25 straight games.

With a depleted offensive line and without a 100-yard back since December of last year, the Colts did not seem like the prime candidate to stop that streak.

Don’t tell that to Vick Ballard.

Behind an 18-carry, 105-yard performance, Ballard did end that streak and 14 games into this rookie season he seems to be getting better by the week.

“He’s been steady all year but I think he’s just getting stronger as the season’s gone on, more comfortable, more confident,” quarterback Andrew Luck said. “He’s a heck of a back. He does a great job of making guys miss in confined spaces.”

Early in the season, Ballard showed flashes of what he put together on Sunday. Injuries to the running back season during the win over the Titans has given Ballard more of a workload and he relishes those carries.

“I know me for sure, I get into a rhythm whenever I can get the ball and I start seeing cuts that you didn’t see earlier in the game,” Ballard said on Monday night’s ‘Pagano Show.’ “I get into a groove and am able to start making some plays.”

Ballard particularly found that groove during a third quarter touchdown drive when he had five carries for 60 yards in leading to tight end Dwayne Allen’s eight-yard touchdown reception.

In April’s NFL Draft, Ballard was chosen in the fifth round and even though his name wasn’t called until the final day the thought of him needing some time to become a feature back did not even register with interim head coach Bruce Arians.

“There’s never been any doubt in my mind. I’ve always thought that from when we brought (Ballard) in,” Arians said. ”I think everyone is starting to see it now that he’s a guy that can tote the ball the whole game.”

The 37 carries over the past two games is the most Ballard has received in back-to-back games this year.

He admitted that he is starting to feel the grind but credited the Colts training staff for keeping him productive in the month of December.

Ballard wants to continue that into January and a victory on Sunday would provide that opportunity.

“Our coaches talk about how we don’t want to sit back and wait for somebody else to lose to increase our chances to make it,” Ballard said. “We want to handle our business. We didn’t get it done this past week so this coming week we want to accomplish that.”


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HIS TITLE MIGHT HAVE CHANGED FOR NOW, BUT B.A. IS STILL B.A.

Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 13, 2012 – 8:44 am

Nine hours.

That was the amount of time Bruce Arians had to transition from receiving a phone call form Chuck Pagano telling him he had leukemia until the Colts offensive coordinator addressed a room full of 60+ players to deliver the devastating news of their head coach.

In a time where the team’s psyche would be challenged, Arians and the rest of the Colts coaching staff has not wavered from the values that was created by their head coach.

“Bruce has done a great job in continuing to keep on preaching what Chuck (started) and not coming in here and saying, ‘this is my team, I’m changing up everything.’ No, nothing like that,” outside linebacker Dwight Freeney said. “He believed a lot of what Chuck believes in and he continues the same things and traditions that Chuck instilled here, of the mindset on how to go out and prepare and believe in the process. He’s done a tremendous job.”

Arians has the Colts (9-4) in a position to become the fourth team in NFL history to win 10 or more games following a season with two or fewer victories (and just the second since 1974).

When news broke of Pagano’s illness and talk switched over to the logistics of the football team, the interaction between Arians and his pupil, Andrew Luck, was a frequent topic.

Would Arians have time to balance his head coaching duties along with continuing to develop another young signal caller?

Luck wasn’t worried.

“He’s got great people skills and he’s a football guy,” Luck said of Arians. “He’s been around football forever. He’s been a head coach before so it didn’t surprise me too much.”

“I do really appreciate how much he’s focused on not letting the communication stop or lesson. I know I’ve spoken on this before but I think it’s a credit to him for doing everything extra he still did in those however many hours, on top of that.”

Last season, defensive end Cory Redding considered Arians a foe.

As a member of the Baltimore Ravens, Redding prepared for Arians’ Steelers offense twice coming out on top in both meetings.

Now, the two are together striving for the same goal of watching their friend and head coach come out of the tunnel on Dec. 30 when the Colts take on the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Redding joked that at first it was unusual hearing Arians cheer for the defense making plays in practice but credits the job the offensive coordinator has done in his new role .

“Just how (Arians) handles every situation and how he handles the team, his leadership, how he demands guys to do things and call them out when it’s not done. That’s what makes him a great coach,” Redding said. “He’s been good at it and stepped and done the job unbelievingly well. He’s getting the guys ready to play mentally and physically.”


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IN TIME OF NEED, FAMILIARITY RETURNS TO BACKFIELD

Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 12, 2012 – 4:15 pm

It looked like Anderson all over again.

No, this wasn’t training camp and the setting was a little further south at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center but back in the corner of the Colts locker room on Wednesday was the group of running backs, including Deji Karim and Mewelde Moore, looking like they had never missed a beat with each other.

Karim and Moore returned to the facility for practice on Wednesday as the next chapter of ‘next man up’ will focus on the running back position.

Moore played six games for the Colts this season and was frequently used as a third down back earlier this year before being cut on Oct. 29. With running backs Donald Brown and Robert Hughes being placed on injured reserve on Tuesday and Delone Carter out two to three weeks according to Bruce Arians, Moore’s return will directly impact Sunday’s game.

“That’s my goal at all times,” Moore said of getting back out on the field. “I’m a competitor and I love to compete. I’m very grateful to be back and being able to get a chance to play.”

Where as Moore survived training camp cuts, Karim did not with a crowded backfield allowing for only four spots on the opening day regular season roster.

Not only is Karim returning to the fold with playing time up for grabs this weekend but he is also coming to a team who he spent all of the offseason with, and now a team on the brink of the playoffs.

“When we are in meetings (Wednesday), going through the plays and everything it just came back naturally,” Karim said of the offensive scheme. “Just asking for details from coach (Walker) and putting things together was much easier.”

“I spent three years in Jacksonville and no playoff hopes at all, not at this point of the season, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Starting running back Vick Ballard is the lone healthy back that has remained in the lineup for the entire season.

As a nine-year veteran, Moore has seen his fair share of backs grow up before him and he admitted it’s been special sitting at home watching Ballard’s growth.

“I’m very proud just to be able to come in from the beginning of it and see Vick how he’s evolving and growing in the game and becoming more and more of a professional,” Moore said. “I’m very excited about it and I’m very happy that he’s achieving great things.”

While their numbers have changed to 37 (Moore) and 36 (Karim), both players are perfectly content with where the Colts are positioned in the middle of December.

Moore was a member of the Steelers Super Bowl XLIII team and it’s games at this point of the season that is why he finds himself still in the league at the age of 30.

“It’s what you dream about,” Moore said of playing in December. “This is the part of the season that every kid’s played in his backyard. A final play, fourth-and-two and you are diving over the pile. This is the type of football that now means the most. Football in December, January and so on.”


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SHIPLEY CONTINUES TO DELIVER

Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 11, 2012 – 2:31 pm

Back in training camp, when asked about the depth along the offensive line offensive coordinator Bruce Arians talked about the importance of needing at least seven guys up front.

Arians knew that over the course of an NFL season, the attrition up front usually forces multiple bodies into the fray throughout the 16-game schedule.

Center A.Q. Shipley has been one of those invaluable pieces along the offensive line, playing in 11 contests including starting a pair of victories.

“I think the biggest thing is that I understand the offense and I don’t understand just one position,” Shipley said on Monday night’s ‘Pagano Show.’

“If you understand the whole scheme you’re ready. I might not get as many reps during the week in practice but part of my job as a professional is to be ready to play center, guard, wherever they need me.”

When left guard Joe Reitz left the Lions game two weeks ago with a concussion, there was Shipley filling in the comeback victory.

This past weekend against the Titans, Shipley was back at his natural center position when an ankle injury sidelined Samson Satele.

“He’s always stepped up to the plate when needed,” Arians said. “He’s a very valuable guy now that he’s been able to play guard. We have a lot of confidence in him as our center.”

Shipley and fellow offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach have been the most frequent interchangeable parts along the unit.

“It’s the closest group that I’ve ever been apart of,” Shipley said of the offensive line. “When one guy gets the opportunity, everybody trusts one another, everybody’s close with one another. When you get in the game with one another it’s just like the next guy picks each other up.”

On two separate occasions (Green Bay on Oct. 7 and Jacksonville on Nov. 8) Shipley has started at center and helped lead the Colts on two of their highest scoring outputs on the season.

His role might be fluctuating on a weekly basis, but Shipley has proven to deliver each time his number is called.

With three games remaining in the regular season, Shipley is itching for another chance to put together a complete effort in hopes to achieve goals that didn’t seem attainable by many pundits back in August.

“We control our own destiny and that’s half the battle. We know what we have to do,” Shipley said of the Colts positioning in the AFC.

“The belief in this locker room is amazing and we just have to keep doing that. We have to put 60 minutes together. If we put 60 minutes together, and hopefully it’s this week, it’ll be pretty special.”


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