NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - INSIDE SLANT
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is used to players getting injured and having to miss significant time during a season. It hurts but, unfortunately, it is just part of the game.
But Reggie Wayne's season-ending knee injury hits a little closer to home for Pagano for purely personal reasons.
Wayne and Pagano have become close, from the college level at the University of Miami to the NFL with Indianapolis. They are also good friends off the field.
When the 34-year old wide receiver went down with an apparent sprained right knee in the latter stages of Sunday night's game with Denver, most observers knew Wayne's immediate future didn't look good.
The news got much worse on Monday when Pagano revealed the 13-year veteran is out for the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. There are reports that Wayne incurred a torn meniscus as well.
"We hate to lose anybody, but this one stings," Pagano said. "You just don't replace guys like (No.) 87. And again we hate to lose anybody. But he'll be back.
"I know how he's wired. And I know what his DNA is, know how he is as a man. Everybody's going to say, 'No way (to a return to a team next season).' But after the conversation I had with him, just wait and see. So we'll put on the gloves for Reggie and we'll help him get through this. We'll get him back."
After he undergoes surgery, Wayne will still remain a valuable member of the Colts organization this season.
"He's going to have to have something done, surgically, but what I told him is that whether it's on a stretcher, a wheel chair, we have to carry him in and out, he'll be there (with the team) every step of the way," Pagano said.
"He's a pro through and through. I told those young (receivers) to get in his hip pocket and follow him. Do exactly what he does on a daily basis. Do you stick around (in the NFL) for a long time? Want to be productive? You want to write your own legacy? You want to be a guy in the NFL and not an also-ran? Then just do exactly what Reggie does. From a leadership standpoint, mentoring standpoint, it's off the charts."
While talking about Wayne's injury, the second-year head coach became emotional.
"We've known each other for a long, long time. The way he is, the first thing out of his mouth is that he feels as if he let his teammates down because he can't be there now," Pagano said.
"That's how unselfish this guy is. He could give a hoot about the numbers, all that stuff. He just wants to play and help us win a championship. That's what he's dealing with right now. I don't feel any worse than the rest of them guys in the locker room and from the owner on down about what happened to him. It's a travesty."
Despite the injury, the Colts coach has no doubts that Wayne will return to the team next season ready to resume his career.
"Just look in a man's eye. And when he tells you he's going to do something. I've known him for a long time, watched him work over the years. When he says 'I'll be back,' I trust he'll be back," Pagano said.
Wrote Colts owner Jim Irsay on Twitter: "Had a long cry with Reggie....now he's gonna do what Reggie does...out work everybody and fight n work his way back!"
NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - NOTES, QUOTES
--Colts coach Chuck Pagano was thrilled to come out of Sunday night's game against Denver with a 39-33 victory in a game that saw multiple Indianapolis players forced to leave the game.
"I feel really good. We got to get healthy. We're beat up. That was a bloodbath," he said. "I don't know how (the Broncos) came out of it, but we're beat up. I like where we're at. I'd much rather be sitting at 5-2 going into the bye than the alternative. We all knew what we were up against (against Denver) and the players were just hanging tough. Grittiest football team that I've ever been around my entire life."
--Heading into the Denver game, the Colts were 2-7 against teams that were 6-0 or better. The franchise had wins over the Los Angeles Rams in 1968 and the Miami Dolphins in 1992.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I have never looked at it as the guy who replaced Peyton (Manning). I just looked at it as a chance to play football for a great team." Colts QB Andrew Luck.
NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--WR Reggie Wayne (knee) is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL and a torn meniscus in his right knee. He was hurt in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's win over Denver.
--C Samson Satele (knee) left the Broncos game twice. He passed an MRI test after the game and is considered as day-to-day.
--CB Darius Butler (calf) left the Denver game twice and then returned to finish the game. Butler is expected to be day-to-day.
--S Delano Howell (neck) was hurt against the Broncos. There has been no update on his injury but he is expected to be available for the Colts' next game.
--CB Greg Toler (groin) was hurt against Denver. His MRI results have not been announced. Toler's status is day-to-day.
--CB Josh Gordy (groin) was injured against the Broncos. His MRI results are not yet known. Gordy's status is day-to-day.
--OLB Cam Johnson (ankle) left the Denver game and did not return. The injury is not considered to be serious. His availability for the Colts' next game has yet to be determined.
--ILB Mario Harvey (hamstring) left the Broncos game and did not return. His MRI results have not yet known.
--OLB Andy Studebaker saw his first action of the season with the Colts defense in the win over Denver. Signed primarily to help beef up the special teams coverage units, he stepped in for injured OLB Cam Johnson.
--S Antoine Bethea was forced to play cornerback at times in the Colts' win over Denver. Due to injuries to three of the team's other cornerbacks, Bethea worked as a nickel back on occasion in the second half.
--OLB Robert Mathis sacked Broncos QB Peyton Manning twice to give him 11.5 sacks this season. He has tied his previous seasonal career high, which was set in 2005 and 2008.
--OG Mike McGlynn moved back to center during the Broncos game when starter Samson Satele left with knee issues. McGlynn has played center for three games so far this season.
--P Pat McAfee is getting plenty of acclaim from across the NFL for his tackle of Denver hit on specialist Trindon Holliday. McAfee enjoys the attention but also said that when he is forced to make a tackle, that's not a good thing.
REPORT CARD VS. BRONCOS:
PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus - QB Andrew Luck had an efficient outing against Denver as he completed 21 of 38 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Luck was sacked twice and was not intercepted. He ended the game with a 99.5 passer rating. Luck completed passes to seven different receivers.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus - As a team, the Colts rushed 31 times for 121 yards, led by RB Trent Richardson's 37 yards on 14 carries. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey added 30 yards on a reverse while RB Donald Brown had 23 yards on 11 carries. Luck scrambled four times for 29 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown run.
PASS DEFENSE: B-plus - While Broncos QB Peyton Manning completed 29 of 49 passes for 386 yards and three touchdowns, he was also sacked four times and intercepted once. Manning also fumbled once after being sacked by OLB Robert Mathis, who had a pair of sacks on the night. DT Fili Moala added a sack while DT Ricky Jean Francois and inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman each shared a sack. The Colts secondary did a pretty good job all night on the explosive Denver receiving corps, although Eric Decker and Wes Welker combined for 15 catches for 246 yards and a touchdown.
RUSH DEFENSE: A - Denver ended the night with 64 yards on the ground as a team. RB Knowshon Moreno led the Broncos with 40 yards in 15 carries and had one TD. RB Ronnie Hillman added 25 yards in four carries but fumbled near the goal line late in the fourth quarter, which was recovered by Indianapolis.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A - PK Adam Vinatieri made all three of his field-goal attempts, hitting from 27, 52 and 42 yards. P Pat McAfee averaged 47.1 yards net on nine punts and had a franchise-record six kicks downed inside the Broncos' 20-yard line. McAfee also had four touchbacks on kickoffs and made one heck of a tackle of Denver KR Trindon Holliday. The special teams coverage unit, led by FB Stanley Havili and S Sergio Brown, forced and then recovered a fumble which set up an Indianapolis score.
COACHING: A - Any time a defense can find a way to slow down a potent offensive attack like Denver's, the coordinator should get a big pat on the back. Greg Manusky should get plenty of credit for coming up with a game plan that seemed to confound the Broncos for most of the game. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton did a nice job of keeping the Denver defense off balance. And head coach Chuck Pagano was able to keep the Colts focused on the job at hand all last week despite the outside distractions and chatter.