INDIANAPOLIS –Bruce Arians took Chuck Pagano's lead when he started conducting press sessions in Pagano's absence.
He led the process by talking about injury matters, a topic NFL coaches usually address when pressed on a daily basis.
This year's discussion has included talk of offensive line shuffling and the brief losses at times of Pro Bowl linebackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. It has included re-working the secondary as cornerbacks have been rotated consistently.
This week meant the news of defensive tackle Fili Moala going on injured reserve with a knee injury, while cornerback Vontae Davis could return from his knee injury.
Arians has seen injuries have an impact on defensive continuity. As December hits, he notes a bit of relief, but he knows the topic of injuries cannot be used as an excuse.
"I think obviously with (missing) the starters throughout September and October, never having Dwight (Freeney) and Robert (Mathis) out there together (hurt)," said Arians. "But when I look out there right now, the core guys are there. We're going to miss Fili (Moala), but we didn't have him for three weeks. We know how to play without him, it's not the first time.
"So we plug in the guys that we have and never use it as a crutch or an excuse. The injuries will never be used as an excuse, and it's the next man up in every position."
Freeney left the Chicago opener after eight plays. Mathis was hurt in the Green Bay game, so the duo has been together through parts of those games plus three full others.
Injury attrition caused Pat Angerer to miss five games, while Cory Redding (one), Davis (six), Darius Butler (three) and Martin Tevaseu (two) missed others. Tackle Brandon McKinney went on injured reserve early and joining McKinney and Moala on the list are Jerraud Powers and Drake Nevis.
"(Opponents) have their injuries of their own. They don't care," Freeney said this week, bluntly. He also admitted while the injuries have affected continuity, the team has battled and produced.
"It can (affect you). We've just done a good job around here of having guys pick up the baton, 'This is what your job is, don't try to do any more,' " said Freeney. "Really hats off to management on bringing the right guy in so that he can fit right in, and it's not really a big deal.
"Obviously, it's a big deal because you don't want to lose Fili (Moala). You don't want to lose those guys, but it's football, and, unfortunately, these things happen."
The availability of 11-game starting strong safety Tom Zbikowski is in question with a knee injury. Zbikowski was hurt against Buffalo. Should he miss, 11-game starting free safety Antoine Bethea is high on possible starter Joe Lefeged.
"(I have) a lot of confidence. He's a real good safety, so I have a lot of confidence in him. Last year, he stepped in and did a great job. No question of Joe's ability. He'll go out there and make plays for us," said Bethea.
Davis hopes to return, "It's (knee) doing well. I'm staying on it, taking it one day at a time."