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Pagano excited for start of Colts season

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The Sports Xchange

INDIANAPOLIS — Plenty of questions remain for the Indianapolis Colts heading into the 2015 regular season.

Will the Colts’ offensive line come together quickly enough for the team to put together a workable running attack? Can the Indianapolis defensive line improve despite the decision to release veteran nose tackle Josh Chapman along with backup defensive tackles Montori Hughes, and Kelcy Quarles

And with running back Daniel “Boom” Herron being waived/injured (shoulder/AC joint), running back Vick Ballard recovering from yet another tweaked hamstring and rookie running back Josh Robinson recovering from a concussion sustained in the next to last preseason game, who will eventually wind up as the Colts’ No. 2 running back behind starter Frank Gore?

As to that last question, undrafted rookie running back Tyler Varga impressed the coaching staff enough that he was kept on the team’s regular-season roster. Indianapolis has four running backs in which to work with. But it’s just a matter of whether Robinson and/or Ballard will be cleared to play in the team’s regular-season opener at Buffalo.

When it comes to the offensive line, can second-year offensive tackle Jack Mewhort pick up his learning curve at a new position as a starter? Mewhort started at guard as a rookie last year but was moved outside to right tackle last spring and has been experiencing some growing pains.

Also, will Lance Louis and Todd Herremans wind up being the team’s full-time offensive guards? It’s been a revolving door at both guard spots as well as at center. Khaled Holmes will be Indianapolis’ starting center. Head coach Chuck Pagano has been adamant about that in recent weeks.

With defensive tackle Art Jones suffering a bad ankle injury that will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the season, it’s going to be interesting to see how Indianapolis officials get things figured out.

Pagano, though, remains optimistic about the upcoming season.

“You’re always excited to get the regular season going. I know the players are, the coaches are, but again you have to go through that process. I don’t want to call it a necessary evil because it is what it is, you have to practice and you have to train and you’ve got to develop an identity and you have to build on your schemes in all three phases and you’ve got to find out about guys and evaluate guys and you have to play,” he said recently.

“The offseason is so much different today than it was at any other time as far as what you’re allowed to do and what you can do with the players from a football standpoint. Training camp is shorter and you don’t have as many days as far as contact goes and all those kinds of things. So it’s a huge challenge, but certainly I think everybody in the building would be lying if they told you they weren’t excited to have the regular season right around the corner. We’re all excited about it, but again, I felt good about what we got done in the offseason program, what we got done in training camp.”

–Pagano isn’t second guessing himself for playing running back Daniel “Boom” Herron on special teams in the Colts’ final preseason game. Herron suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the second quarter of the game.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Hey, we know what Boom is. We know what this guy is,’ and all those kind of things, but we didn’t play the one runner. We had Josh (Robinson) down. Fortunately we got Vick (Ballard) healthy enough to start the game,” the Colts coach said.

“It was unfortunate that he had an injury. It’s unfortunate what happened to Boom on the return. That can happen at practice. It can happen at any time. It’s a decision that I made. I’m not going to look back on it, anything like that. Again, it is what it is.”

–Rookie cornerback D’Joun Smith had his ups and downs during training camp and the preseason. But the coaching staff likes what they see in the former Florida Atlantic defensive back.

“He’s a rookie corner playing in the National Football League, so it’s a tough, tough duty, tough job, and he’s the right man for the job. There are going to be some tough days,” Pagano said.

“Like anybody else, it doesn’t matter who it was, whether it’s him or any other corner coming in here. Again, going against the guys that he goes against day-in and day-out, the guys that we have on the other side of the ball, it’s a little bit different, but he’ll be fine.”

–The Colts signed linebacker Josh McNary to the practice squad. McNary was with the Colts the last two seasons but was released after his arrest on rape charges in Indianapolis. He was acquitted of those charges last week after a week-long trial.


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