Indianapolis Colts Football

JUSTICE READY TO START ANOTHER WINNING STREAK

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 21, 2012 – 8:00 am

As much as Winston Justice didn’t want to admit it, he eventually gave in.

The focus for Justice and the Colts have moved on to the Buffalo Bills but early in the week the pain of the Patriots loss still lingered.

“We want to say that (the loss doesn’t hurt) but as a natural human, instincts let it sting a little longer,” Justice said on Monday’s ‘Pagano Show’. “But as a player in the NFL, and as a team in the NFL, we have to have a short memory to focus on Buffalo because they have a really good defense for us.”

That defense includes former Houston Texans defensive end Mario Williams and a front four that includes two former top-five draft picks and a pair of Pro Bowlers.

“I think it’s going to be a big test for all of the front five but I think we are up for the challenge and that started (Monday) with film study and Wednesday with practice,” Justice said.

It is an unusual week in the NFL for every team with Thanksgiving falling on a normal practice day.

Interim head coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said the Colts will get to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center a little earlier than usual on Thursday with the hope to let the players head home early in the afternoon.

Justices knows the balance between holidays and work is something that every NFL player deals with and credited his family for their support.

“I have a great wife that is really understanding but she doesn’t mind telling me that you need to come home (laughs),” Justice said. “We already have stuff planned and I’m giving that whole afternoon to my family and kids.”

Justice has been slotted at the right tackle position for a majority of the Colts games this season and Arians credited his pass blocking for much of the offense’s success.

Quarterback Andrew Luck has benefited from the protection of Justice and the rest of the offensive line, but it’s the rookie’s maturation that has the veterans talking about the youngster.

“I’ve been saying from the very first days of OTAs when (Luck) came in the huddle, that he was very confident. He was very poised,” Justice said. “I knew then that he was a forced to be reckoned with and he was going to be our guy.”

As the Colts prepare in hopes to start another lengthy winning streak, the blend of youth and experience has this Indianapolis team ready to achieve its preseason goals.

“We are a young team but we are really poised and I think we want to get better,” Justice said. “We want to be the best and we work hard so we can do that. I know that sounds simple but most teams don’t really do that.”


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ARIANS TALKS PAGANO, OFFENSIVE LINE, YOUTH AND PATRIOTS ON RADIO SHOW

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 13, 2012 – 1:58 pm

Bruce Arians was a guest on the ‘Pagano Show’ Monday evening.  ‘Voice of the Colts’ Bob Lamey hosts the show and Arians covered a variety of topics with a few of the highlights are below:

On Arians spending some time with head coach Chuck Pagano on Saturday afternoon:

“He was feeling real good and he knew some down days were coming but he’s mentally prepared for it. It’s going to be a tough week but he’s going to be fine.”

On how he thought his team dealt with a short week:

“I was really pleased with our veterans as far as schooling the young guys on what to anticipate as far as a short week and what kind of game it was going to be, a very physical game, a division game and the young guys responded very well. I thought it was the best game in certain areas and not so much in others. In the fourth quarter, we committed some really stupid penalties and made a couple boneheaded plays offensively but it didn’t hurt us because we had built a nice lead. In the game’s coming up it could come back to bite us. We have to clean that up. It’s fun to be able to coach and clean stuff up with a victory.”

On the play of the offensive line against the Jaguars:

“They’ve logged enough snaps now and they are all comfortable with each other. When Samson (Satele) went down, A.Q. (Shipley) came in and did a great job. (Jeff Linkenbach) has bounced all over the place, starting at left guard, right tackle and has played his heart out every where he’s been. Bradley Sowell got a few snaps at tight end. Our whole blocking unit, I was real pleased with.”

On what it is going to take to beat the Patriots:

“The biggest thing is you cannot turn the football over up there. Tom’s (Brady) going to turn them into points every time. The games that I’ve had success up there we’ve been error free as are as turnovers and we got lucky and got a couple. They’re outstanding. They have great offensive skill and they play an up tempo (style) that our defense must get ready for. Our offense has to go out and make first downs, score points and let’s see how the chips fall.”

On what it has been like to coach such a young team, specifically offensively:

“The results for me, watching them get better is more important right now than the wins and losses. They will take care of themselves. As long as you see each guy get better on a consistent, daily basis then you know something is building for the future, which is going to be really powerful. This young class that we have offensively is a dynamite class. There is so much football talent but they are (also) great guys. They are so much fun to be with every day. It’s probably given me 10 years of youth working with them every day. I feel so much younger with these guys. They’re great guys.”


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ARIANS TALKS THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, LUCK, PAGANO

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 6, 2012 – 10:39 am

It’s a short week for the Colts but interim head coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians still covered a variety of topics on the ‘Pagano Show’ with ‘Voice of the Colts’ Bob Lamey on Monday evening. Here are a few of the highlights from Arians:

On the difficulty of dealing with a short week:

“Thursday Night Football is an animal all to itself. This is my seventh year in a row with one of these games. It takes a lot out of a coaching staff to try and prepare a game plan especially after a big win like that in four hours, which normally takes 16 hours. Our (staff) did a great job of preparing Friday and Saturday for (Monday). It’s very hard for me to prepare for one team and play another so I don’t do that.”

On the success that Andrew Luck and the offense had on third down against the Dolphins:

“That’s unheard of. Andrew was unbelievable. The receivers did a great job. Even more than that, the offensive line did an unbelievable job in pass protection. Both tackles, I can’t say enough about (Anthony) Castonzo and Winston (Justice) shutting out those defensive ends.”

On his general impressions of Andrew Luck through the first half of the season:

“He has such a great passion for the game. He has the grit that he’s not going to lose. He’s able to will the rest of the guys in the huddle with his passion, with his athletic ability and everything else. His will to win is what separates the great ones. The ones I’ve been around all had it. He’s definitely got it and some of the throws in the fourth quarter with guys draped all over him were fantastic.”

On how proud the city of Indianapolis is for what the Colts have done this season:

“Hopefully we’ll make them prouder. We are on a mission to do something special. We’ve got all the reasons to help this community, help continue what has been a great rallying around Chuck (Pagano) and our goal is to extend the season. He had a great report today. He’s fixing to go into one really tough time with the second and third rounds of chemo, but he is in remission. We’ve got our fingers crossed that Dec. 30th, he can lead us out of that tunnel.”

On having coach Chuck Pagano in the locker room before and after game on Sunday:

“Before the game was special. Some of the players knew that he was coming. We have a big horseshoe in our locker room and we squeeze everybody into the shoe. We say a prayer and then a last minute speech before we take the field. At the back of the locker room, I asked the guy, ‘Hey open up the back door.’ We never open up the back but Chuck walked in and there was just an unbelievable look in (the players) eyes of how excited they were that he was there. He delivered a great message and then after the ball game it was really special for him to have that win.”


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CONTINUITY ON OFFENSIVE LINE STARTING TO TAKE SHAPE

Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 25, 2012 – 8:01 am

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,”


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MORE THAN FIVE OFFENSIVE LINEMEN? NOTHING NEW TO ARIANS

Posted by Kevin Bowen on September 19, 2012 – 8:42 pm

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.


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Injuries Force Colts Offensive Line to Show Versatility

Posted by Chuck Chapman on September 16, 2012 – 9:58 pm

Heading into the 2012 season, the Colts offensive line was full of question marks. How quickly would the new starters like Winston Justice and Samson Satele gel with Anthony Castonzo and the other returning Colts’ linemen? Could this unit that lacked depth stay healthy enough to keep prize quarterback Andrew Luck healthy?

Already two games into the season, we seem to have an answer to those questions. After struggling against the Chicago Bears in week one, the Colts faced down injury and showed their versatility and their resolve in the 23-20 win against the Minnesota Vikings.

The news wasn’t good to begin the game, with starting right tackle Winston Justice being declared inactive with the lingering effects of a concussion suffered last week. In his place, veteran Jeff Linkenbach stepped up into a starting role he previously held. If the best compliment to an offensive lineman is never hearing your name called, Linkenbach had a successful day. He and the rest of the Colts’ line held the Vikings, one of the NFL’s best units at rushing the passer, to two sacks, one of which was more a result of Andrew Luck holding the ball too long than the line’s inability to protect him.

Leading that effort was second year left tackle Anthony Castonzo. A week after facing the Bears’ Julius Peppers, Castonzo lined up across from the Vikings’ Jared Allen most of the afternoon. The Vikings defensive end already ranks 20th all-time on the NFL’s sack list. Thanks to Castonzo, Allen couldn’t add to that number on Sunday.

After the game, Castonzo was proud of the effort put forth by him and his linemates:

“It’s really awesome to start of the year that way, with two elite pass rushers…I feel like I held my own against both. It’s a great launching pad for the rest of the season.”

On the shift in personnel required by Justice’s injury and Samson Satele going out with a knee injury just before the half, Castonzo said he was confident in the abilities of those pressed into action.

“Next man up is our motto. Somebody gets hurt, the next guy has to come up and do the job.”

One who did two jobs on Sunday was Mike McGlynn. McGlynn started at guard, but when Satele went down, he moved over to center, a position he hadn’t played since a playoff game against Green Bay in 2010 when he was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. McGlynn felt good about his performance, but admitted it was a challenge for him to take over that role in the middle of a game after not getting many reps there during the week.

“It’s a big transition because you have to direct the line, which directs the whole offense. It’s something I’ve always been comfortable with (playing center)…I think I did some good things, but I’m sure I’ll see on film some things that need to get fixed.”

The extent of Satele’s injury is unknown at this time, so it’s unclear whether McGlynn will be back at center next week against Jacksonville. McGlynn’s move to center also brought in newcomer Trai Essex who filled in competently at guard.

Both Andrew Luck and Bruce Arians have to be encouraged by the progress and versatility shown by their offensive line in the Colts’ initial victory of 2012.

 


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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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ESSEX REUNITES IN HOME STATE WITH ARIANS, GOODWIN

Posted by Kevin Bowen on September 11, 2012 – 8:06 am

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.


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Winston Justice Thinks This Could Be the Start of Something Big

Posted by Chuck Chapman on August 12, 2012 – 2:00 am

Winston Justice knows “big” when he sees it. As a lineman at USC, he blocked for three Heisman Trophy winners and was part of a team that contended for the national championship every year. In his six years as a Philadelphia Eagle, he went to the playoffs four times.

So it bears listening to when Justice says that this collection of Colts’ linemen could be “something big.”

Justice knows that “NFL” often means “not for long.” The business side of the game necessitates roster turnover and change. Because of that, he’s not overly concerned with the lack of experience the Colts’ line has with each other.

“Sometimes in the NFL it’s like that. It’s very rare that you find five guys that have played together for a very long time. Hopefully this group will play together for a long time.”

Justice credits head coach Chuck Pagano’s infectious enthusiasm for the pace of development that has observers anxious to see them take the field Sunday against St. Louis.

“He’s really intense. He expects a lot in practice. These are some of the hardest practices I’ve ever had to go through.”

Having played for Andy Reid for the entirety of his NFL career, that’s high praise for Pagano. Justice is mourning the loss this week of Reid’s eldest son, Garrett, who was found dead at Eagles camp at Lehigh University on Monday. Garrett Reid had served as a weight coach for the Eagles, so Justice had gotten to know him very well. Although he hadn’t had an opportunity to speak directly to Andy Reid or anyone with the Eagles, Justice was clearly saddened and shaken by Garrett’s untimely passing.

Justice comes to Indianapolis with a reputation for being involved in the community, something that has been valued highly within the Colts organization. He says getting plugged in here in Indianapolis is a “main focus” and that he’s looking forward to continuing his community service here.

Justice can already see that Indianapolis is “a real family town” and is confident that he and his family will fit in well here, despite it being somewhat “opposite” of Justice’s previous homes in Southern California and Philadelphia.

“My wife’s from the midwest, so she’s used to it…I think we’ll like it here.”

Justice’s veteran presence will go a long way toward helping this young line come together. Once that happens, Justice’s word could become prophetic if the Colts go on to “something big.”


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OFFENSIVE LINE ALL SHARE A COMMON GOAL

Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 2, 2012 – 2:52 pm

Perhaps no unit on the Colts roster was happier to have a full offseason in 2012 than the offensive line.

Injuries riddled the offensive line throughout the 2011 season and four new veteran faces made their way to Indianapolis via free agency or trade this offseason.

As the first week of training camp is nearing a close, the new faces along the line are pleased with the progress they are making.

“So far, I think it’s going good,” offensive tackle Winston Justice said. “I still think we have a lot to work on, but so does every other offensive line in the NFL. I just think we have guys that want to get better and that’s all you can really ask for at this point.”

Justice was acquired via trade during the offseason and has started 31 NFL games with the Philadelphia Eagles in his six NFL seasons.

A day after trading for Justice on March 14, the Colts made another move along the offensive line in signing offensive guard Mike McGlynn.

The combination of Justice and McGlynn provided some continuity for the two as they spent three seasons together in Philadelphia.

“I played with Winston (Justice) in Philly so that’s a familiarly to me that’s been a smooth transition,” McGlynn said.

Getting the line to gel together is always a vital key for any group, but takes on added importance in protecting a rookie quarterback. That will still be the case come September but even McGlynn admitted this quarterback isn’t your typical rookie.

“Normally, yes but with Andrew (Luck) he’s not the normal quarterback,” McGlynn said. “Normally with a rookie there’s growing pains, but this guys sharp and he’s on his game.”

Protecting for Luck will be goal number one for the unit and Justice is glad that this unit all shares the same objective.

“The best thing we have is a drive to be better,” Justice said. “I think this group really puts the team first and we just want to be the best individual players we can be and the best line we can be too.”

The four new faces along the offensive line have a combined 25 years of NFL experience and they will mix with some young returnees who are early in their NFL careers.

When asked if the normal amount of time for an offensive unit to feel organized is around a year, McGlynn is hoping this line has higher expectations.

“I think that’s fair, but we don’t want to look at it that way. We want it right now,” McGlynn said. “Like I said, we’ve got that chip on our shoulders. Nobody is expecting anything out of us so we want to make sure these guys in this room are ready to go so we can surprise a lot of people.”


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