INDIANAPOLIS – Some messages coaches tell teams can get old, while others consistently hit the nail on the head.
With 52-of-90 players finishing last season on the active roster, injured reserve or the practice squad, some heard what would be a good message for Chuck Pagano to repeat.
“You can pull out the press clippings, read great things people said about you, start patting yourself on the back, become a fat cat,” Pagano said last year about putting the past where it belongs – behind. “Maybe you don’t work as hard as you should.
“You’re not going to flip the switch and beat somebody. Last year was last year. That’s gone.”
Jackson has one winning season in eight tries and joined the Colts with an eye toward a first-ever playoff chance. In the group of new players are 27 rookies and seven more with first-year experience levels.
Pagano’s first Colts squad (2012) was coming off a 2-14 record and was targeted for a bottom-feeder finish. It bought into his program and went 11-5.
Last year’s Colts followed Pagano to another such record and advanced further into the playoffs, and this year’s team is fingered by many observers to make significant noise in the post-season.
Pagano dismissed his team for the summer one month ago after it finished a nine-week program where installations across the board were introduced and practiced.
Thursday starts the honing crucible in Anderson. Twenty-nine practice sessions and one preseason game will be completed before the Colts return to Indianapolis.
“Year three, (we’re) heading in the right direction,” said Pagano in June, when he said vacation truly was not vacation for team’s chasing a title. “Everybody’s on the same page. Everybody understands what our environment and our culture is.
“They understand process. They understand what ‘BTM’ means. We enlightened (rookies) all on what ‘BTM’ stood for. I feel good going into year three. We took a step last year. We need to take another one this year.”
‘Build the Monster’ was among Pagano’s first rallying-cries. It does not strain one’s ears to hear players repeat the mantra to this day. It became a belief, not just a free shirt.
Another key Pagano expression is, “Let’s Hunt!” Though not quite as often on the tips of tongues, his players heed his words and act.
“We made progress, but we’ve got a long way to go still,” said Pagano at the conclusion of last month’s mini-camp.
His words from this time last year still are timeless in the pursuit of a Lombardi Trophy.
“It’s hard to fight human nature. Human nature says to get complacent. It’s a brand new season, a new group of guys. You have to stay hungry, motivated, driven.
“You have to have the mindset to approach this one meeting, practice and day at a time. Don’t look back (or) forward. It’s a ‘What have you done for me lately’ league. We know that.”
2014 COLTS TRAINING CAMP ROSTER (alphabetical by position,*-rookie)
Offensive Line (15) –
Defensive Line (11) –
Linebacker (13) –
Punter (1) –
Long Snapper (1) –
Rookies – 27; First-Year (NFL) – 7; Players finishing 2013 season on active roster – 39; Players finishing 2013 season on injured reserve/practice squad – 13; Players on current active roster not ending 2013 with Colts – 38
Key Additions – S-Colt Anderson, WR-Hakeem Nicks, DE-Art Jones, LB-D’Qwell Jackson
Veteran Losses – LB-Pat Angerer, S-Antoine Bethea, WR-LaVon Brazill, RB-Donald Brown, LB-Kavell Conner, DT-Aubrayo Franklin, WR-Darrius Heyward-Bey, T-Jeff Linkenbach, DT-Ricardo Mathews, G/C-Mike McGlynn, C-Samson Satele, CB-Cassius Vaughn