INDIANAPOLIS – For Colts fans tuning into Thursday night's preseason finale, they got a treat with Jim Irsay joining the broadcast.
Irsay talked with Don Fischer and Rick Venturi during the third quarter on Thursday night.
What all did Irsay talk about during his quarter in the booth?
On what excites Irsay about this year's team:
"I think what really excites me is when you look at what we accomplished last year and then you see what we added. Of course, a lot gets held back in preseason, (Frank) Gore didn't play a lot, obviously. I think we have an outstanding chance to have a really special team. Nothing is guaranteed. We are 0-0 starting. There's a lot of preseason hype. We know about it. We have to block that out and play one play at a time."
On Irsay's biggest influences:
"There were so many. Really starting with one of the founders, one of the seven founders, George Halas. He was at my wedding. He was even at my confirmation, when I was 12 years old. My dad was a good friend of George. I tell George McCaske, his grandson, all the time, 'Your grandfather was at my wedding.' It's just unbelievable.
"Playing the Bengals, Paul Brown, what a big influence he was on the game. Really it's like having a chance to be a senator or something in politics and having known George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. To meet the guys that really started this thing, what a blessing for me that I've been able to come up that way and learn. I'm coming up on half a century in this league. But I'll tell you one thing, going into this season, I'm as excited about any year as I have been. When you think about Andre Johnson, Robert Mathis, Frank Gore, coming onto a team, not even to mention the other additions, but coming onto a team that already was a "Final Four" team, it's incredibly exciting."
On Robert Mathis' progress:
"Robert Mathis is really progressing well, really progressing well on his recovery. It's incredibly exciting. I see him in September playing. I see him in this building, in September, playing. With the way his progress is going, I don't see anything slowing him down and you know what a boost that would be, to have the likes of a guy like Mathis, joining Gore and Johnson to an already good football team."
On running back Tyler Varga:
"He is going to make it difficult for us. The way Varga is playing, Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson are going to have some tough decisions this weekend to make. Varga is really talented. He can catch it well. He can block. His 40-time may have hid his talent a bit but in this game, you don't need a guy that can always take it to the house. He is just an excellent football player and a great special teams player. He's an interesting guy."
On the offensive line:
"The offensive line is solidified. We really do think Jack Mewhort can do it. We will help him if we have to. Everyone remembers Pittsburgh was struggling and couldn't protect (Ben Roethlisberger) last year and all of a sudden they go to max protect and (639 total yards) and six touchdowns against us. You have to protect your weaknesses, emphasize your strengths. I think Chuck Pagano and his staff know that and they will do that to help someone like Mewhort when he's going to start out against Buffalo.
"The thing with (Joe Reitz at right tackle) is we worry about exposing him to 16 games. He had some injury problems. He's a great swing backup so I feel that if Jack can do it, I think we are going to be pretty well set out there. (Khaled) Holmes is really adjusting inside to center and would have been last year if he hadn't gotten hurt so uncharacteristically against the (Jets) in that preseason opener."
On the rookie Stanford defensive linemen:
"I think being picked in the third (Henry Anderson) and fifth round (David Parry), these guys did it in the (Pac-12). They did it against the highest, elite competition in college. They both are very physical, tough, players. I think there's no doubt that our run defense is much improved with them. I think Parry, even though he's short, that's okay at that position against leverage. He's a big guy. They are really going to help us. We need them to step up."
On Arthur Jones Injury:
"The Art Jones' injury is going to keep him out for a while, so we are still trying to figure out exactly how long. We are going to need those (Stanford) guys to step up."
On Vick Ballard's injury impacting roster cuts:
"It really makes it tough. I mean we love Vick. He's put so much heart and soul into his recovery and we want to see him have a chance to have a second coming of his career, but the injury situation right now, it's going to be a tough decision, particularly with Varga playing so well and being able to play special teams."
On how the Colts brass handles roster decisions:
"My responsibility is to really get Ryan (Grigson) and Chuck really functioning at a full level in making sound decisions. I don't have the time like they do, particularly like Ryan to look at players. As an owner and a former scout, too, one thing you know is if you don't have a chance to really study a guy, you are not going to make a call from a distance. I am hands off in that degree but I also try to encourage, hear the thinking that eventually goes into when you take someone like (Phillip) Dorsett, like we did, which surprised some people. Again, you take the best player on the board. The draft dictates to you, not the other way around. We thought he was a special player being there.
"I really feel good about the energy that Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano have together. It's false for anyone to say that there's friction there. There isn't friction there, honestly. They work really well together. They have great debates but they always come out respecting each other, trying to help each other, knowing that if they put themselves in each other's shoes, in other words, not over stepping their grounds, either one of them. We have a great working combination there. It's shown obviously in the last three years. We are at an important point right now in the franchise, obviously, and we would love to make a goal of it to get home field advantage. We don't shy away from that, but it's one game at a time."
On playing the Buffalo Bills:
"Opening up in Buffalo, it's a tough one to draw. They have a suspension (Marcel Darius) and it's (Rex Ryan's) first game as a Bills coach. We are optimistic, but it will be tough."
"All I can leave Colts fans is that we are really excited and we are really ready. We really are. It's going to be a very special year. I really believe. We have some really special guys that can take this franchise to the highest of levels. But again, it's a game at a time."