INDIANAPOLIS – Maybe taking a break from football was just what the Colts needed.
Two days after being told coach Chuck Pagano would be out indefinitely because of leukemia, the Colts went back to work.
There were the usual morning film sessions and team meeting, the normal afternoon practice and after listening to interim coach Bruce Arians’ plea, there was a distinctly more upbeat attitude in the locker room. For the Colts, it was almost business as usual Wednesday.
I think having yesterday off was good because it’s the same routine as always, quarterback Andrew Luck said.
Normalcy is the top priority right now in Indianapolis (1-2).
Players and most of the assistant coaches were stunned when Pagano didn’t show up for Monday morning’s scheduled team meeting, only to get the full explanation a few moments later from Indianapolis’ hierarchy.
Yes, Indianapolis tried to press on with its regular routine after that meeting, but it wasn’t the same.
Arians met with Luck before that morning to ensure the lines of communication would remain open, and defensive players were surprised when Arians started cheering after they came up with a couple of turnovers late in Monday’s afternoon practice.
Afterward, in a somber locker room, players repeatedly expressed concern about Pagano, and one player even suggested the best remedy might be getting away from football again – even after returning from a bye week – just to put the illness in perspective.
It certainly made a difference.
Obviously, we know what’s going on and there’s no doubt everyone still has that in the back of our heads, defensive end Cory Redding said. But this team has to move on. We have to go out there and do our job.
Arians is doing what he can to help players cope with the circumstances and reinforce the message that nothing will change on the field.
He will be calling the offensive plays Sunday, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky will be making the defensive calls and the rest of the assistants will continue to do their jobs without taking additional responsibilities.
In fact, Arians said he’d spent only about five minutes looking at tape of the Packers’ potent offense, giving that task to Manusky and his assistants.
And Arians, the longtime assistant who will be calling all of the shots for the first time in his NFL career Sunday, had a simple message for the team: Don’t try to do too much Sunday against Green Bay.
The one thing that I think we have to be very aware of is not getting overexcited, overhyped to try to do something extra. We don’t need to do anything extra, Arians said. We just need to play, coach every day like we have and prepared like we have and not get caught up in snot bubbles and tears. They don’t beat anybody.