INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts have reached the final quarter of the 2015 season, in a year with ups and downs unlike anything Chuck Pagano has seen in his more than 30 years in football.
More adversity has hit the Colts (6-6) with three divisional games waiting in the final four weeks of the season.
Here is what Chuck Pagano and Dwayne Allen had to say to the media on Monday afternoon:
- S-Colt Anderson (ankle): Week-to-week after injuring his ankle late in Sunday's loss.
- OT-Anthony Castonzo (sprained MCL): Still week-to-week. Has missed the past two games.
- WR-Phillip Dorsett (ankle): Should practice Wednesday. Dorsett was limited in Friday's practice. He's missed the past five games.
- ILB-Jerrell Freeman (hamstring): Still week-to-week. He missed Sunday's game in Pittsburgh.
- QB-Matt Hasselbeck (neck/shoulder): MRIs indicated a sore/stiff neck and a mild rib separation. Should practice Wednesday.
- LB-Nate Irving (wrist): Has a fracture. Will cast it and he's listed as week-to-week.
- QB-Andrew Luck (abdomen/kidney): Still week-to-week after ramping up his throwing last week. Colts Owner Jim Irsay told NFL Network that Luck could return for the Houston game (12/20).
- OG-Hugh Thornton (elbow)-Should be back to practice on Wednesday. Missed Sunday's game in Pittsburgh.
Chuck Pagano on Matt Hasselbeck's availability for this week:
"(The doctors) pretty much feel he will be on the practice field and be ready to go on Wednesday.
"I'm fairly confident he should be alright."
Bowen's Analysis:* *Matt Hasselbeck was not at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on Monday. Doctors took a look at Hasselbeck off-site and MRIs showed the injuries above. Besides the play in the third quarter where Hasselbeck fell to the ground in pain, where he appeared to initially get hurt came on a first-quarter blitz from cornerback Will Allen. The blindside pressure from Allen hit Hasselbeck high and sent him to the ground.
It does appear to be good news on his injury front though with Pagano expecting Hasselbeck to play on Sunday in Jacksonville. As long as the Colts don't sign another quarterback this week and Hasselbeck can practice some, it looks like the team won't have to turn to Charlie Whitehurst in a starting role.
Chuck Pagano on the struggles in Pittsburgh Sunday:
"We didn't handle the elements very well."
Bowen's Analysis: Pagano made it clear on Monday that after meeting with his team in the afternoon, they were putting the Pittsburgh loss well behind them. The Colts head coach repeated how he tried to instill into his team Monday the importance of getting hot down the stretch.
To do that, the Colts will have to overcome a slew of injuries. Pagano's message was definitely heard by his players, hence Dwayne Allen's thoughts below. "All the chips" are being put into the middle of the table now for Pagano's Colts, with these next few weeks deciding their playoff fate.Dwayne Allen on having to likely play several meaningful games down the stretch with the division still in doubt:
"This is different. We've never experienced this. The way that coach Pagano said, 'You can either see it as a sign or a test.' We believe that it is a test. It is a test of our character as a team and organization.
"What are we going to do? Are we going to fold it up or are we going to dig down deep and go out there and do what we need to do to get into the playoffs?"
Bowen's Analysis: Allen is right. If the Colts are going to clinch their third straight divisional title, it won't come as easy as the last two Decembers. In 2013, the Colts clinched after a Week 14 loss (they won the division by four games over the Titans that season). Last year, the division was locked up after a Week 15 win over the Texans (coming into that game, the Colts were 9-4 and Houston was 7-6).
With four weeks left in the 2015 regular season, the Colts and Texans sit at 6-6. Now, the Colts can clinch the division with two wins the next two weeks (at Jaguars, vs. Texans) combined with Houston losing a home game to New England this week. It's a different type of position for a team that has won 16 straight AFC South games (an NFL record).