By TOM JAMES & GEORGE BREMER
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano didn’t need to read a tweet from team owner Jim Irsay to know that his team still has plenty of work to do before the 2013 regular season gets underway.
Irsay apologized to fans in a tweet Monday and talked about his disappointment in the Colts’ overall play during Sunday’s 44-20 preseason loss to Buffalo. His latest foray into social media remained a topic of conversation a day later.
Pagano, though, is very aware of what Indianapolis needs to do over the next couple of weeks. Indianapolis wraps up the Anderson University portion of training camp Friday morning.
“Top to bottom, we were all disappointed. We certainly didn’t expect to go out and play [the way the Colts did]. We expect to go out and perform. Individually, again, offense, defense, especially as a team and play well. We didn’t. Like I said, we are disappointed, but not discouraged. We know exactly where we’re at. We’re going to address the things that need to be addressed,” he said Tuesday.
“We’re back in camp mode. We’ll be in camp mode until Friday morning as [training camp] practice is over. It’s business as usual. We’ll stick to the process. There’s no need to panic. But certainly, everybody’s accountable and everybody understands what they have to do. We’ve got a great locker room. We’ve got great leadership. They understand that. The coaches understand that. We’ll go to work and get it fixed and we’ll play better.”
EVALUATING THE GAME TAPE
The Colts coach says that the team’s issues are very fixable.
“Just like we said after the game, disappointed but not discouraged. We talked about how [the first preseason game] was going to be a great barometer for us. It was going to be a great barometer for the players individually, as units, offense, defense, special teams and as a team,” he said.
“So, we look at the good things. We want to come out and keep working on those and replicate those things and then find the flaws. Find where our weaknesses are and go to work specifically. I told the guys get with your position coach and let’s get a plan to get better at the things we need to get better on.”
BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY
Along with higher expectations comes greater exposure.
The Indianapolis Colts played just one nationally televised prime time game in 2012, the league-mandated appearance on “Thursday Night Football,” against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But, coming off a suprising 11-5 campaign, the team will have four prime time appearances this year.
Sunday’s 7 p.m. road kickoff on Fox against the New York Giants should provide a nice tune-up.
“Sunday night, there’s a special feel to it,” quarterback Andrew Luck said. “And we’ll come out, preseason or not, you want to go out and win. You want to go out and perform. We’re all competitors. We’re all athletes, and I’m sure the Giants are saying the same thing. So it should be a good battle.”
ROSTER SHUFFLE CONTINUES
Injuries forced the Colts to make more changes to the 90-man roster Tuesday. Linebackers Justin Hickman and Quinton Spears were waived/injured and will revert to the injured reserve if they clear waivers.
The team brought back linebacker Monte Simmons, who had been waived last week, and signed cornerback Johnny Adams.
Adams went undrafted out of Michigan State and signed with the Houston Texans. He was released Aug. 2.
Rookie outside linebacker Bjoern Werner returned to practice for the first time since Friday morning. Werner missed Sunday’s preseason opener will nursing a knee injury.
Two other Colts, meanwhile, added their names to the injury list. Tight end Coby Fleener has been diagnosed with a concussion and will need to pass league protocols before he returns. Wide receiver Griff Whalen is day-to-day with a groin injury.
Others who did not practice Tuesday include: cornerback Cassius Vaughn, safety Joe Lefeged, cornerback Teddy Williams, defensive tackle Montori Hughes, safety LaRon Landry, fullback Dan Moore, center/guard Khaled Holmes, offensive guard Hugh Thornton and linebacker Josh McNary.
Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s 45-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton was the offensive highlight of Sunday’s preseason opener. The veteran passer was back at it Tuesday at Anderson University, making the play of the day with a touchdown pass to Nathan Palmer deep in the end zone and adding a scoring strike to LaVon Brazill.
Hasselbeck even hooked up with Hilton again, hitting the speedy receiver with a perfect pass between two defenders down the sideline.
“His resume obviously speaks for itself,” Pagano said. “He went in and he’s done a tremendous job on all fronts, in the quarterback room, helping Andrew in Year 2. But he’s more than capable (of playing if he needs to). We all know that. He can run this offense, and you’ve got, if you want to call it an insurance policy, you’ve got a great insurance policy in your back pocket.”