INDIANAPOLIS --- Chuck Pagano has been coaching for a long time, dating back to his first job as a graduate assistant with USC in 1984. He's experienced a lot. So, when he says he's never seen something before, understand that's saying something.
By the 2nd half of Monday's night's game against the Jets, this is how the Colts cornerback situation looked.
#1 CB: Vontae Davis (left game with a concussion)
#2 CB: Greg Toler (out first two games with neck injury)
#3 CB: Darius Butler (did not play with hip injury)
#4 CB: D'Joun Smith (IR - Designated To Return last Friday with knee injury)
Pagano has experience multiple significant injuries on his roster before in Indianapolis, but not so many all at once to a single position.
"I've never been in a situation quite like this, to be honest with you," said Pagano on a conference call Wednesday. "But on the back end, to have number two, number three, and number four corner out, and then lose your top guy during the ball game Monday night, I've never quite been in that situation."
That left Jalil Brown, Sheldon Price, and Eric Patterson (now on the practice squad) as the only cornerbacks left available. When the Jets went four receivers on some plays, safety Dwight Lowery was called on to cover as well.
The Colts are hoping it's not a situation that will repeat itself week 3 at Tennessee. Davis has passed the concussion protocol, was a full participant in practice Thursday, and will play Sunday. He was in a red no-contact jersey Wednesday but back to full contact Thursday.
"I was doing the drills. I was able to have contact," said Davis Thursday. "I wore the shoulder pads."
Toler started to do limited activity last week and is practicing on a limited basis this week. His status for Sunday is less optimistic than Davis as of Thursday, but Toler is getting closer.
"I think we're just taking it one day at a time. Feeling good, been out for a month now. Just trying to get the doctors to okay me," said Toler about his neck injury. "They're just saying I had a bad bruise on my disk. You just have to be cautious of it."
Toler said it's not the type of injury that you can get treatment for like a sprained ankle or a pulled hamstring to help speed up recovery. It just takes time, and whenever you are talking about the head or neck area, that's not something you want to rush and risk making it worse.
As for guys like Brown, Price, and Patterson who have been forced into action, it's the old cliche "next man up".
"We tell everybody to prepare like a starter. Your roll might not be where you want right now, but you've got to prepare like a starter because you never know when your number is going to be called," said Pagano. "Some guys like Jalil Brown and Sheldon Price and Eric Patterson last week...those guys stepped up."
It's not fun for a coach, but welcome to the NFL.
"It is frustrating, but it's life in the National Football League."