Pagano focuses Colts on winning

INDIANAPOLIS — With three games remaining in the 2017 regular
season, don’t expect the Indianapolis Colts to use the occasion to
take a long look at the team’s younger players.

Head coach Chuck Pagano made that point perfectly clear Tuesday.

“We’re going to play to win. Don’t care who they are. We won’t go
with younger players,” a determined Pagano stressed.

Denver comes to Lucas Oil Stadium for a nationally televised game
Thursday night. The Colts are looking at the game the same way as
they have the previous 13, although preparing for the matchup on a
short week does have its disadvantages.

“We’ve really always taken kind of the same approach. I think it’s
hard coming off of a Sunday game. We’ve always modified. Walk
through the day after the game (Monday), then we pick it up a
little bit (Tuesday) and a little bit more on Wednesday. Then
you’ve got a full day Thursday,” Pagano said.

“It’s a challenge. Guys like playing football. Guys like playing on
prime time. Our guys are excited about having an opportunity to
play on Thursday. They understand it’s difficult from a preparation
standpoint and getting their body back and all that stuff. But,
again, we don’t have any control over that stuff. So we’ll prepare
the best we can and get ready to play.”

The fact that Indianapolis has played the Broncos five times,
counting post-season games, since the start of the 2013 season
makes game preparation a bit easier. There is some familiarity
there.

“A lot of work was done prior (to last weekend’s game at Buffalo).
We’ve played them. We’re familiar, ” the Colts coach said.

“They’re the No. 1-ranked defense right now in the National
Football League. They’ve got some really good players. They’re well
coached. They’ve got one of the best in the league in (outside
linebacker) Von Miller. Shane Ray on the other side. A secondary
that’s really good. Corners that all cover, compete and play. It’s
a huge challenge, this game.”

There is also familiarity with first-year head coach Vance Joseph.

“Vance Joseph is a defensive guy and we know his dossier and what
he likes to do,” Pagano added. “So it’s similar to what we’ve seen
in the past out of them.

“It isn’t like we’re dusting something off and going against an NFC
team that we haven’t seen in a long time. It’s a good football
team. They got a huge win (vs. Jets last Sunday), which helps them.
Confidence and all that stuff. We won’t have to travel. They’ve got
to travel. We’ll have our hands full, obviously.”

SERIES HISTORY: 24th regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series,
13-10. Indianapolis has won six of the last eight and eight of the
last 12 regular-season matchups. Denver, however, won the last
regular-season meeting, taking a 34-20 home-field victory on Sept.
18, 2016. The Colts are 7-5 in home games vs. Denver and 3-8 on the
road. Indianapolis is 3-0 vs. the Broncos in games played at Lucas
Oil Stadium. The Colts are also 3-0 vs. Denver in post-season
games. Indianapolis’ last regular-season home-field loss to the
Broncos occurred on Dec. 21, 2003 as Denver posted a 31-17 victory
at the RCA Dome.

–The Colts are 10-1 in Thursday night games dating back to 2007.
Indianapolis is 4-1 on Thursday night since Chuck Pagano became
head coach in 2012. The lone loss was last year’s 28-7 home game
vs. Pittsburgh.

Indianapolis is 36-24 in prime-time games since the start of the
2004 season. The Colts are 14-15 in prime-time games broadcast by
NBC. Indianapolis is also 0-1 in Thursday night prime-time games
broadcast by NBC.

–Running back Frank Gore’s 36 rushing attempts against the Bills
Sunday set an NFL record for the most carries by a running back in
a single game age 34 or older. Here are the top three for the most
carries in a game for NFL running backs: Frank Gore, 36, 12/10/17
at Buffalo (age 34); John Riggins, 33, 9/23/84 at New England age
35); Marcus Allen, 33, 12/24/94 at L.A. Raiders (age 34).

Gore’s yeoman performance against Buffalo continues to be the talk
in Indianapolis. It didn’t surprise head coach Chuck Pagano.

“A man possessed. That’s what we’re calling him,” Pagano said,
adding that the veteran running back is expected to be OK heading
into Thursday night’s home game with Denver.

“Yeah, he’ll be alright. He takes great care of himself and we
understand, and he understands, the age and all that stuff. Nothing
surprises me anymore with Frank. We’re going to need a bunch of him
on Thursday.”

–Indianapolis won the fourth quarter on Sunday (7-0) for the first
time this season. The Colts, however, have now been outscored
120-35 in fourth quarters this year.

–The Colts’ 46 team rushing attempts in the loss to Buffalo were
the most in a game for the franchise since a Dec. 7, 1997 game with
the Jets.

–Tight end Jack Doyle is four receptions away from passing Jacob
Tamme for the third most receptions by a Colts tight end in a
single season. Doyle has 64 catches this season. Tamme had 67
during the 2010 season.

–Coach Chuck Pagano was asked Monday for an update on how
quarterback Andrew Luck is doing in his continuing rehab from
shoulder surgery.

“He’s doing fine. Communicating via email and text. (He’s) making
progress,” the Colts coach said. “I think everybody knows he’s in
Europe somewhere getting some great treatment. Where that is
exactly, you probably know more than I know. I don’t get on social
media and all that stuff.”

–The Colts added WR Matt Hazel to the practice squad and released
CB Taurean Nixon from the practice squad.

Hazel has spent time on both the active roster and practice squad
for Indianapolis this season. He was initially claimed off waivers
from Washington on Sept. 3. Hazel was released last week.

NOTES: CB Rashaan Melvin (hand) was limited during Tuesday’s
workout. He did not practice Monday. Melvin is not expected to play
Thursday night, but could be a game time decision. … WR Donte
Moncrief (ankle) did not practice Tuesday. Moncrief was also held
out of Monday’s walk-through workout. He is not expected to play
Thursday night against Denver. He might be able to return next
week. … TE Darrell Daniels (hamstring) was limited during
practice Monday and Tuesday. Daniels will most likely be a
game-time decision Thursday night. He has missed the last three
games. …DT Hassan Ridgeway (shoulder) fully participated in
workouts Monday and Tuesday. Ridgeway may be given the green light
to play against the Broncos Thursday night. … C Ryan Kelly
(concussion) went through a full practice Monday and Tuesday. Kelly
will meet with a neurosurgeon Wednesday, which will determine his
availability for the Denver game. … QB Jacoby Brissett (quad)
went through a full practice Monday and Tuesday. Brissett should be
good to go against the Broncos Thursday night. …

RB Frank Gore (hand) did not practice Tuesday. It was considered to
be a rest day for the veteran. He fully participated in Monday’s
walk-through. Gore is expected to start against Denver Thursday
night. …

Rookie CB Nate Hairston (concussion) was limited in Tuesday’s
practice session. Hairston needs to be cleared before he can play
against Denver Thursday night.

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