NFL Wire News

Minicamp analysis: Happy Colts have high hopes for 2015


The Sports Xchange

INDIANAPOLIS — There is an air of confidence around the Indianapolis Colts’ headquarters as the team prepares for the start of training camp.

The Colts’ hierarchy — namely team owner Jim Irsay, general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano — has high hopes for a franchise that has made three straight playoff appearances, won back-to-back AFC South titles and reached the AFC Championship Game last season.

Pagano, particularly, is revved up about what the 2015 season could have in store for his squad.

“Obviously very pleased with the work that we were able to get done in this offseason program,” Pagano said after Indianapolis wrapped up a mandatory three-day minicamp last week. “As you guys know, and I talk about it a lot, it’s short. Eight weeks isn’t a lot of time, but again, I feel like we got a lot accomplished. Happy with the minicamp. Happy with the way we finished.

“The message was really we can’t, over the next six weeks, just drop football and forget about everything that we’ve done to this point because we’ve made strides. We’ve made ground. Great eight weeks.”

The Colts will have an abbreviated training camp at Anderson (Ind.) University, reporting Aug. 1 and breaking camp on Aug. 15. Indianapolis will then return to its Indianapolis practice facility for workouts with the Chicago Bears on Aug. 19-20. The Colts and Bears will then play a preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Aug. 22.

“We’ve reached a deal with the Bears to have joint practice with them a couple days prior to us playing them in the second week of the preseason. It’ll be held here at West 56th, so were extremely excited about that,” Pagano said, joking that the practice sessions will be closed to the media.

The Colts-Bears practices mark the first time since 2001 that Indianapolis jointly held practices with another team (Tennessee).

“It’s going to be a great deal like I said. Coach Fox is, as we all know, a great, great coach and a great man, got a great staff up there and obviously a great organization. I was glad we were able to come to agreement and get that thing solidified,” Pagano said.

“Dan Emerson, our general counsel, did a great job working with their people and our coaches did a good job of talking through all the logistical things. A lot goes into that to make that happen. Hats off to all of our people behind the scenes that made that happen.”

Before sending his team off for a few weeks of vacation, Pagano told players to enjoy the time off, don’t forget the task ahead of them and to make smart decisions with their free time.

“What I hit them with was No. 1, they’ve got to connect, and that means connect with family. There’s nothing more important. Be where your feet are. Get with your kids. Get with your loved ones. Get with your wife, girlfriend, whatever that is and connect. Then it’s the physical part. You’ve got to stay working out. You’ve got to run, you’ve got to lift, you’ve got to do all those things,” he stressed.

“You’ve got to continue to work at your skill set and your craft. Then the mental part. Stay in your iPad. Stay in your playbook. Study, study, study. Pick a time out during the day. Get in a routine. Then the last thing, which is not much more important than family and connecting, is doing the right thing and making great choices. We can’t afford to lose one person because of a bad decision, so really hit home on that.”

Pagano wanted his rookie class to remember his last point.

“Do the right thing. Be a pro. We just had the NFL security meeting, and they pointed out all the mistakes that have been made by former players. Not here but throughout the league. Showed them the statistics and all that stuff. When you’ve got free time, that’s usually the time that things happen, so we hit that hard,” Pagano said.

So after watching his team for eight weeks, just how good can Indianapolis be in 2015?

“I think we’ve got a really good football team. We’ve got work to do. We have question marks. We’ve got to get in pads. We’ve got to harden our knuckles. We’ve got to develop a mindset once we get to training camp, and we can start to bang on each other,” Pagano said.

“But we’ve got a great team. We’ve got a locker room full of guys that love football. The guys that we brought in, they fit in immediately because of their character. Good players, but they’re character guys. Close, close unit. Group of guys that really cares about one other. Again, they love football. They love working at football.

“If they continue to do the things that we stressed over the next six weeks, and we hit the ground running come August 1, we’re going to take it one day at a time and one game at a time. It’ll give us a chance to have success in 2015.”

About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business