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.”
Tags: antoine bethea, bruce arians, chuck pagano, joe reitz, robert mathis
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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.”
Tags: A.Q. Shipley, bruce arians, Jeff Linkenbach, joe reitz, Samson Satele
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For the first time all season, the Colts offensive line put together the starting five that they carried into the 2012 preseason with them.
Left guard Joe Reitz got his first start of the season on Sunday after playing sparingly in his season debut against the Titans.
“It felt great,” Reitz said. “It was tough being on the sidelines and not getting out there but it felt really good to get back in the lineup.”
Reitz and the offensive line helped protect Andrew Luck on Sunday afternoon as the quarterback was sacked just once on 50 drop backs. That effort came against one of the league’s best pass rushes.
While Luck wanted to thank his protection in keeping him clean for the most of the afternoon, it was Reitz returning the favor on Monday.
“We give a lot of credit to (Luck) first off because he continues to do great things back there. He can make up for a lot of mistakes,” Reitz said.
“He’s so athletic and can move around that a play is never over. As linemen, we have to sustain our blocks and make sure that we are blocking to the whistle every play because you never know what’s going to happen back there.”
The pass protection was dealt a little adversity with center Samson Satele and right tackle Winston Justice leaving the game due to injuries.
Now, Reitz and the offensive line will move forward to a rematch with the Jacksonville Jaguars in three days.
“We got a quick turnaround now and got to go to Jacksonville right away because we got a real big one Thursday night,” Reitz said. “It’s really going to come down to preparation and taking these three days here, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and making sure that we’re ready to go because it is such a short week. The mental preparation becomes even more important in a short week like this.”
Back in the starting lineup and getting to contribute on the field for Reitz is something he has longed for since the start of the regular season.
He had been regulated to a spectator for the first six games of the season but now is happy to be apart of a group that has positioned themselves in the top half of the AFC.
“I think that we’ve got a bunch of guys that are hungry, a bunch of guys that love the game. We have a great leader in coach Pagano who’s put forth the message from day one back in April of what we were going to do. Now, B.A. (Bruce Arians) is carrying the torch,” Reitz said.
“We just have a bunch of guys that love the game, want to get better and our best days are ahead of us. We’re moving forward. Like coach said, there’s not rearview with this team. We’re moving forward trying to get better every week because we know that we still have better football to be played.”
Tags: joe reitz
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Heading into the Sunday’s game between the Colts and Browns, no one on Cleveland’s starting offensive line had ever missed an NFL start.
The five players combined for 190 starts in their 15 years of NFL experience.
Compare that to an injury-ridden Colts offensive line that was starting the same five players together it had the previous week for the first time all season.
Bruce Arians saw a jump from Week 6 to 7 with his offensive line and is hoping that continues.
“The communication was (better),” Arians said. “It was easier at home than it has been on the road but it was better. It showed up in the running game more than anything.”
The Colts attempted 37 rushes on Sunday afternoon which was seven more than the high from the first five games.
It wasn’t just the attempts that were a season high for the Colts. They turned those carries into 148 yards rushing with 10 of the 37 attempts resulting in first downs.
A balanced Colts offense sits just fine with quarterback Andrew Luck and the rookie knows the continuity among the offensive line is key.
“I think it’s great, especially for the o-line guys knowing who is next to them, knowing their calls, their tendencies, how they operate,” Luck said. “Hopefully we can build off last week’s performance which they did a great job and continue to get better.”
The offensive line might even benefit from a little depth this weekend as offensive guard Joe Reitz was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
Reitz was the starter at left guard during the preseason but due to a leg injury, he is still waiting to make his debut.
For now, left guard Jeff Linkenbach will continue to start but Arians loves having some options up front.
“He’s going to get more practice time. His reps will grow in practice,” Arians said of Reitz. “Right now I don’t know if we’re ready to make any switches, we’re playing pretty well in there. He’d have to knock my socks off on the practice field to make me take Jeff Linkenbach out of there right now.”
Heading into this week’s matchup with the Titans, the Colts are expected to carry that same starting five of LT-Anthony Castonzo, LG-Linkenbach, C-Samson Satele, RG-Mike McGlynn and RT-Winston Justice on the offensive line for the third straight game.
“I think it’s important to have that continuity. It needed to happen some time,” Justice said with a laugh on Wednesday. “It’s good to have the same guys out there. It’s more important to play with the same person next to you,”
Tags: anthony castonzo, bruce arians, Jeff Linkenbach, joe reitz, mike mcglynn, Samson Satele, winston justice
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During training camp, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was asked about the importance of developing depth along the offensive line.
“You’ve got to have seven guys and if you think you’re just going to play with five, that doesn’t happen,” Arians said. “That’s Godsend if that ever happens. We went to the Super Bowl with seven offensive tackles and four quarterbacks in Pittsburgh.”
“The next man standing, the next man in line, he jumps in and he plays. There’s no drop off. There’s never an excuse for an injury. If you’re a backup, you’re one of the most valuable players on the team.”
Just two weeks into the regular season, the Colts have experienced every part of what Arians said back in August.
-Left tackle Anthony Castonzo is the only penciled in starter who has been at his normal position for each of the first two games.
-At left guard, Seth Olsen has started both games for Joe Reitz (leg).
-At center, Samson Satele left the Vikings game late in the second quarter with a knee injury and was replaced by right guard Mike McGlynn.
-At right guard, when McGlynn slid over to center, newly signed lineman Trai Essex played the final two-plus quarters on Sunday.
-At right tackle, Jeff Linkenbach has been playing there since Winston Justice exited the Bears game with a concussion.
Through eight quarters of the regular season, the Colts have already used seven different players along the offensive line with Reitz still waiting to make his season debut.
Head coach Chuck Pagano talked about his beat up offensive line and their availability come Sunday.
“(Satele) saw the doctor, the MRI came back and it was negative so he’s just got some bone bruising in there but he’ll be day-to-day,” Pagano said. “We anticipate him being available for the game but you never know. If Satele isn’t able to go, then McGlynn will get the nod at center.”
During the 2010 season with the Eagles, McGlynn was the starting center for 14 games after starter Jamaal Jackson went down in the season opener.
“It’s a challenge just because we haven’t worked together and guys are just coming in,” McGlynn said of the ever-changing line. “It’s tough, but there’s not going to be any excuses come Sunday.”
Justice was a full participant at practice on Wednesday and his return to the line would give the Colts another veteran presence to protect Luck.
Tags: anthony castonzo, bruce arians, Jeff Linkenbach, joe reitz, mike mcglynn, Samson Satele, Seth Olsen, Trai Essex, winston justice
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It’s an extra familiar homecoming for newly signed Colts offensive guard Trai Essex.
Not only will the 6-foot-5-inches 324 pounds Essex be back in the state he went to high school but he will also be reunited with his offensive coordinator and position coach.
Essex graduated from Fort Wayne Harding High School in 2001 and has spent all seven of his NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He will now be playing in the same offense Bruce Arians conducted with the Steelers (2007-2011) and under former offensive line coach Harold Goodwin (2007-2011).
In his seven seasons in the NFL, Essex has played in 76 career games with 28 starts while winning two Super Bowls with the Steelers.
He brings versatility to a Colts offensive line that is in need of some depth. Last year, Essex played all five positions along the Steelers offensive line.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said on Monday that offensive guard Joe Reitz will miss his second straight game due to a leg injury.
The status of right tackle Winston Justice is also up in the air after he left the Bears game with a concussion.
Pagano said the offensive line needs to be better up the middle in protecting its rookie signal caller.
“For the most part we’re on the right guys, and now it’s just a matter of firming things up a little bit,” Pagano said. “Being a little more stouter in there, and trying to give Andrew (Luck) that pocket, that comfort zone in there where he can see the field and step up and make the throws that he needs to make.”
The 324-poound Essex will certainly add some bulk to wherever he fits onto the line as his knowledge of Arians’ scheme should speed up the process for him this week.
It remains to be seen whether or not Essex finds himself in the lineup come Sunday but his eight years of NFL experience is the second most on the Colts offense.
Pagano stressed the importance of finding a consistent running game to help out an offense filled with young pieces.
“If we can run the ball like (the balance) you’re talking about and not get behind so to speak and keep that thing balanced it’s obviously going to help (Luck) too,” Pagano said.
Tags: bruce arians, chuck pagano, harold goodwin, joe reitz, Trai Essex, winston justice
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For an Indianapolis kid playing in front of families and friends week in and week out, Colts offensive guard Joe Reitz has a message for the team fans will see in 2012.
“We’re going to be exciting. There’s just great energy, great enthusiasm. We had it since we started back in April,” Reitz said.
The excitement of Sunday’s preseason contest was a theme heard again and again following Tuesday morning’s walk-through.
The constant positive emotion that has been echoed throughout training camp by player after player began with the guys above, Reitz said.
“It starts with coach (Chuck) Pagano and it trickles down. It’s like he never, never has a bad day. He’s always upbeat and always excited,” Reitz said.
“That goes the same way for B.A. (offensive coordinator Bruce Arians) leading the offense, to our offensive line coach Goodie (Harold Goodwin). It’s been great getting to work under those guys and just how excited they are to come to work, that fires us up as players. We just try to emulate them.”
Currently, Reitz and fellow offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach are battling for the left guard position.
No matter who runs out there on September 9 against Chicago, Reitz knows the most important piece for the offensive line to succeed is communication among all five voices.
“The offensive line, that’s the one position on the field where it’s not five guys playing, it’s one unit. The more and more we can play together, (we can) learn each other’s strengths and nuances. I think every day we are growing as an offensive line and we’re just going to continue to get better,” Reitz said.
Growing up just outside of the Circle City in Fishers, Indiana, Reitz has had a close view of the Colts unparalleled success over the last dozen years.
This marks the third season that Reitz has played for the Colts and after starting nine games last season he is anxious to regain that team success he witnessed for so many years.
“I think we’ve had a great camp overall as a team,” Reitz said. “I know as an offense we are getting better every day. As an offensive line we are getting better every day. We are just getting excited for the season.”
Tags: chuck pagano, harold goodwin, Jeff Likenbach, joe reitz
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The Beach Boys said it best when they sang “There’s a place called Kokomo. That’s where you wanna go to get away from it all.” Tiny, myself and the rest of the Colts crew spent last Friday enjoying the sights and sounds of Kokomo, Ind. at our third Fan Fest of the summer.
Before we arrived at our Fan Fest location, we stopped at our FAVORITE Jimmy John’s restaurant. Randall, our FAVORITE Jimmy John’s employee greeted us like regulars. We practically are considering we’ve stopped to eat at the Kokomo JJ’s twice in one week. I’m not complaining!
When we finally reached our Fan Fest location, it was go time. At this point in the summer the Colts intern staff works like a well-oiled machine. We strive for extreme efficiency while setting up for each Fan Fest. Despite a few twisted inflatables and the big, bad Tiny becoming tangled with some tree limbs, things went off without a hitch.
I met with a few fans while they waited for the players and cheerleaders to arrive. Sue, one of Kokomo’s biggest fans stood at the front of the line eager to meet Justin Snow and Joe Reitz. Sue endured the heat all afternoon waiting in the park while we set up for the event. Once the traveling Colts Pro Shop arrived, Sue was first in line to get some shopping done. “I bought some cute Colts earrings to send to one of my best friends in Utah. She cheers for the Colts all the way out there!” said Sue.
Finally, the Colts players and cheerleaders arrived on stage and the fun began! Both Reitz and Snow have traveled throughout Indiana this summer to meet Colts fans. Reitz, who signed autographs in LaPorte last Wednesday, was extremely impressed with how the crowds turned out again in Kokomo.
“It’s awesome to see this amount of support from our fans in Kokomo,” said Reitz. “This is what it’s all about.”
Curt, Stephanie, their two children Kendall and Bryce were all very excited to meet the players and take part in the rest of the Fan Fest fun. Kendall and Bryce informed me that they had never been to a Colts game. “But it is my birthday in four days!” said Bryce. Mom and Dad, I think he was directing this toward you. Don’t you think a trip down to Lucas Oil for a game this season would make for the perfect birthday present? – – You’re welcome, Bryce!
So what was the highlight of the Kokomo Fan Fest? The famous Daisy the Derby Duck showed up to meet some of her favorite Colts players! Daisy is with the Samaritan Caregivers, an organization affiliated with the United Way that helps care for elderly citizens in the community. Daisy was able to get her picture taken with Reitz and Snow before mingling with the rest of the Kokomo Colts fans. I think the players were just as excited to meet Kokomo’s famous duck as she was to meet them.
When it was finally time to deflate the bounce house, fans drifted over to the concert stage to listen to the Legendary Poco perform some of their famous hits. The Colts crew was even able to enjoy some tunes while we packed away the stage, tents and Tiny, of course.
Kokomo Colts fans, thanks for welcoming us to your town. You all are awesome! Braving the heat and long lines, I can tell this city loves the Colts just as much as Tiny and I do. If the Beach Boys are singing about how amazing your city is, then you know you’re big time. I mean, it’s the only place they want to go! Thanks for the fun times, Kokomo!
Tags: fan fest, joe reitz, justin snow
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Wednesday was a big day for Tiny and the rest of the Colts marketing crew as we headed three hours north to LaPorte, Ind., home of the Slicers. What exactly is a Slicer? I’m still not exactly sure, but I do know that the Slicers showed up in full force for Wednesday’s Fan Fest.
While we managed to entertain ourselves throughout the lengthy car ride with various “Call Me Maybe” remixes and some old school rap jams, we all felt a little sluggish by the time we arrived at LaPorte High School. However, there were several volunteers ready to help when we began to set up for the event. Water, crowd control, you name it: these Colts fans were ready to step in wherever the need may be. Thank you, volunteers!
I met with some fans while they waited in line to visit with our sponsors, register to win free tickets, sign up for one of the Colts Official Fan Clubs and most importantly, meet the Colts players and cheerleaders. There were blue wigs, countless Colts jerseys and even a man sporting his Colts pajama pants.
Avery, a six-year-old from LaPorte, waited in line prior to the gates opening so he could show off his fresh blue Mohawk to some of his favorite Colts players. Avery remembered traveling down to Lucas Oil Stadium to watch a Colts game a few years ago. “I’m not sure who the Colts played, but I know that we won!” While his semi-permanent hair color may not last until the season starts, Avery assured me that he’ll still be cheering for the Colts come September when we kick off the regular season against the Bears.
Finally, a limo arrived with the cheerleaders and a bright red helicopter swarmed over the field carrying Colts players, Pat McAfee and Joe Reitz. Fans cheered and pointed to the sky, barely containing their excitement.
Reitz said, “They’ve really rolled out the red carpet for us here in LaPorte. It’s great to see how excited the fans are for Colts football even three hours north of Indianapolis.”
Colts punter, Pat McAfee welcomed all of the fans to Wednesday’s Fan Fest and thanked them all for their support. McAfee said, “Colts fans are the BEST fans.” But we already knew that, right?!
Before McAfee and Reitz had even signed their first autograph, the line stretched throughout the football field and out into the parking lot. Fans endured the long wait in the scorching sun with live music from the Jai Baker Band and competing for t-shirts tossed from our very own, Blue.
Colts fans Stephanie and Brandon stood at the end of the line, but they didn’t care how long the wait was. “We’re here because we love the Colts!” said Stephanie. “Who knows, maybe we’ll even win some free tickets while we’re here!”
Our good friend, Tiny (a 30’ inflatable mascot, in case you haven’t met him), welcomed kids of all ages to our Play 60 zone that included the Colts bounce house and inflatable slide. Colts fan Brock told me he was so “COLTSTRONG” that he could tackle Tiny to the ground. While Brock aced the quarterback challenge and sped through the drills in the Play 60 zone, he was only a little more than three feet tall, compared to Tiny standing at 30 feet tall. However, when you’re “the strongest kid at the Fan Fest” you can do anything you set your mind to.
It was obvious that fun was had by all that attended the LaPorte Fan Fest. By the time the sun began to set and the line finally started to dwindle, the helicopter was swirling above the field waiting to take McAfee and Reitz back to Indianapolis.
McAfee tweeted to his followers that it was his first time riding in a helicopter. I’ve never ridden in a helicopter either so I’m hoping that they’ll consider allowing Tiny and I to ride down in a chopper of our own to our next Fan Fest event.
Before leaving the Fan Fest, Reitz showed his appreciation for the hundreds of Colts fans that came out to the event. “We’re nothing without our fans,” he said.
Although it was a little warm outside, it was nothing a cold bottle of water couldn’t fix. Thank you to the LaPorte High School cheerleading squad who spent their evening making sure fans stayed hydrated! I had a great time getting to meet our fans that cheer on the Colts from nearly 150 miles away. We’re glad we could bring some Colts blue spirit up north!
Get ready, Kokomo – we’re headed to you Friday! And Rushville – we’re coming your way Saturday!
Tags: fan fest, joe reitz, pat mcafee
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By Kevin Bowen, Colts.com
Of all the units on the Colts roster to see an influx of new talent this offseason, the offensive line received the most veteran additions with a trio of lineman made the move to Indianapolis.
Center Sampson Satele (6 years), guard Mike McGlynn (5 years) and tackle Winston Justice (7 years) all bring together ample NFL experience to a unit that is trying to blend it’s young talent around them.
Offensive line coach Harold Goodwin talked about each of the new additions and what they will bring the Colts in the trenches:
On Satele: “He’s been in the battle. He’s been in the wars. For him to come in, it’s just transitioning the terminology to what he’s heard in the past and flipping it over. He’s been great because he’s a smart football player and anything I teach him he picks up right away.”
On McGlynn: “He’s a huge leader in the room and a powerful, smart football player.”
On Justice: “We have a flexible guy who can play right tackle or play left tackle.”
The unit was a little undermanned on Wednesday afternoon with first year players Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana both sidelined along with guard Joe Reitz.
Castonzo and Reitz saw extensive action on the line last season and with them sidelined the veteran returnee came in the form of third-year pro Jeff Linkenbach.
“As far as the guys who’ve been here, Jeff (Linkenbach) is doing a great job. (We’re) kind of bouncing him around from tackle to guard, just trying to find him a home because I think he’s maybe one of our top five or six lineman.”
Goodwin said that even though the line is ever changing during the month of May he expects that to change come training camp.
“I know I’m kind of bouncing them around a little bit, but I just told them ‘stick with me’ and once we get to training camp and have healthy bodies we can start slotting guys into a single spot and go from there,” Goodwin said.
Tags: anthony castonzo, harold goodwin, joe reitz, mike mcglynn, offensive line, sampson satele, winston justice
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