INDIANAPOLIS –Chuck Pagano signed on to be the Colts' head coach on January 25.
It marked the start of the 29th year of his coaching life, his 11th in the NFL.
Over the years, Pagano, the son of a coach, has shaped the lives of many individuals.
He did so in college for many players who never were talented enough to reach the NFL, and he did it in the professional ranks for those who were playing the sport at its highest level.
While with Cleveland, Oakland and Baltimore, Pagano saw a number of relationships end on cutdown day. Sometimes those players returned, most times they did not.
Now with the Colts, cutdown day was a difficult time, too. Pagano oversaw the investment each player made in hope of joining the program, and that is something he noted as the Colts reached and keep conforming to the NFL-mandated 53-man roster size.
"We talked about it, it's tough. We had a tough day yesterday talking to the guys we had to release," said Pagano. "Guys have families. Guys worked their tails off. They did everything we've asked them to do."
"It's just the harsh reality of the NFL, and it's the toughest part of the job. Everybody that gets involved from a player's standpoint and a coach's standpoint knows this is something that has to take place. It's certainly not the end of the road for any of these guys."
Five of the players released on Friday – long-snapper Justin Snow, defensive back Brandon King, running back Darren Evans, offensive tackle Mike Tepper and defensive back Mike Newton – had prior experience with the club. Snow was one of the longest tenured players in club history with 192 games.
On Saturday, Indianapolis continued making adjustments to the roster by releasing defensive backs Jermale Hines (who was with the club in 2011) and D.J. Johnson and offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe. Indianapolis claimed safety Sergio Brown, nose tackle Martin Tevaseu and offensive tackle Mike Person off waivers. Additionally, the Colts added six players who had been with the club either throughout the spring or in training camp to the practice squad – nose tackle Chigbo Anunoby, linebacker Jerry Brown, offensive guard Hayworth Hicks, tight end Kyle Miller, wide receiver Kashif Moore and safety Latarrius Thomas.
As the roster stands, there are eight rookies on the team. The only draft pick not with the club is linebacker Tim Fugger, a seventh-round pick from Vanderbilt. Two others, offensive guard Justin Anderson (D7) and nose tackle Josh Chapman (D5), are with the club but are on injury-designated lists.
Twenty-three players return who finished last year with the Colts either on the active roster or on injured reserve or the practice squad. That means there are 30 new members on the playing roster.
A total of 15 Colts never have appeared in an NFL game – quarterbacks Chandler Harnish and Andrew Luck; running back Vick Ballard; wide receivers Kris Adams, LaVon Brazill and T.Y. Hilton; tight ends Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and Dominique Jones; offensive linemen Mike Person and A.Q. Shipley; linebackers Jerrell Freeman, Mario Harvey and Justin Hickman; long-snapper Matt Overton.
All three of the Colts' quarterbacks – Luck, Harnish and Drew Stanton – never have taken a snap for Indianapolis, while Stanton (13 games) is the only one to appear in league action.
Luck and Stanton exited last Thursday's game against Cincinnati after one possession, leaving Harnish to direct the remaining 12 Indianapolis drives.
The native Hoosier hit nine-of-16 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown, and he was productive throughout the preseason by completing 27-of-47 tosses for 406 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
Harnish's performance was enough to tip the scales in his favor. Indianapolis chose to keep three signal-callers on roster.
"He did enough out there," said Pagano. "His resume and body of work he put out there in the preseason (was sufficient). We felt good enough to draft Chandler (Harnish) based on what we saw coming out of college.
"What he's done in the preseason, we didn't want to risk that (waiving him). He's an up-and-coming guy. He's got all the Colts traits that you're looking for and did a tremendous job for us. We didn't want to risk losing Chandler."
Indianapolis returns to practice on Monday and opens the season in Chicago a week from tomorrow.
COLTS ROSTER (alphabetical by position, rookie underlined, First-Year italics, RETURNED FROM 2011 CAPS, *-Never played in NFL game)
Quarterback (3) – *Chandler Harnish, *Andrew Luck, Drew Stanton
Running Back (4) – *Vick Ballard, DONALD BROWN, DELONE CARTER, Mewelde Moore
Wide Receiver (6)– *Kris Adams, Donnie Avery, *LaVon Brazill, AUSTIN COLLIE, *T.Y. Hilton, REGGIE WAYNE
Tight End (3) – *Dwayne Allen, *Coby Fleener, *Dominique Jones
Offensive Line (9) – ANTHONY CASTONZO (T), Winston Justice (T), JEFF LINKENBACH (T), Mike McGlynn (C/G), SETH OLSEN (G), *Mike Person, JOE REITZ (G), Samson Satele (C),
*A.Q. Shipley (C)
Defensive Line (6) – ANTONIO JOHNSON (T), RICARDO MATHEWS (T), FILI MOALA (E), DRAKE NEVIS (T), Cory Redding (E), Martin Tevaseu, (T)
Linebacker (10) – MARIO ADDISON, PAT ANGERER, KAVELL CONNER, Moise Fokou, Jerrell Freeman, DWIGHT FREENEY,Mario Harvey, *Justin Hickman, JERRY HUGHES, ROBERT MATHIS
Cornerback (5) – Vontae Davis, Josh Gordy, Justin King, JERRAUD POWERS, Cassius Vaughn
Safety (4) – ANTOINE BETHEA, Sergio Brown, JOE LEFEGED, Tom Zbikowski
Punter (1) – PAT McAFEE
Placekicker (1) – ADAM VINATIERI
Long Snapper (1) – *Matt Overton
Rookies – 8; First-Year (NFL) – 7; Players finishing 2011 season on active roster/IR/PS – 23; Players on current active roster not ending 2011 with Colts – 30.