ANDERSON –Just moments after the Colts had beaten St. Louis 38-3 in the preseason opener, Head Coach Chuck Pagano cautioned his troops about what they would hear.
Pagano anticipated that many observers would heap praise on the team, and he urged players to maintain a level-headed nature and not to fall prey to potential accolades.
Approximately 22 hours after the game ended, the first-year head coach said today on balance there were a lot of positives.
"You come out of these games, a game like that – 38-3…it's never as good or it's never as bad. Somewhere in the middle is where reality lies," said Pagano. "After spending a ton of time on the tape, there are a lot of positive things. A lot of guys got better. There are a lot of things to look at and get better on.
"The things we set out (to do), the major things we were looking for – execution, taking care of the football, creating some turnovers, limiting penalties, win the 'explosive play' battle, third-down, red zone, finishing – (we did)."
The Colts had a 430-215 net yardage advantage, a plus-two turnover ratio, a 23-15 lead in first downs and the club out-rushed St. Louis, 116-68. Colts quarterbacks hit 21-of-30 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns, and the club out-sacked the Rams, two-to-one. Indianapolis built a 14-0 lead and never allowed its margin to shrink below 11 points.
"We want to be a great finishing team. We want to win the fourth quarter. All those areas were positive," said Pagano. We were 73 percent on third down offensively. It could have been better. We had a few drops there were uncharacteristic of guys who made those drops. That's a concentration thing. … Turnover margin, (we were) plus two. We had that one ball on the ground, fortunately we got back on top of it and didn't have a giveaway there. There were a lot of great things to build on."
An area of concern for the club is injuries. Starting middle linebacker Pat Angerer suffered a broken foot on the first series and will miss about six weeks. Angerer, the club's leading tackler in 2011, will have a procedure done to address the injury. His spot will be filled among backups on the roster – Mario Harvey, Moise Fokou, Greg Lloyd or Jerrell Freeman. There is a chance the club could bring in a free agent, though no former Colts players appear to be front-burner candidates. Reserve linebacker Scott Lutrus tore an ACL. Lutrus will have surgery and will be lost for the year. Guard Mike McGlynn has a high ankle sprain and will miss some time, as might running backs Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore with rib injuries.
"Scott Lutrus has an ACL (injury). They're making plans to have surgery on him. He'll miss the rest of the season," said Pagano. "Pat has a fractured foot. … It's looking like six weeks for Pat. Mike has a high ankle sprain. Everybody's different as far as coming back from high ankle sprains. His is not as bad as most high ankle sprains, so he's going to miss a little bit of time. Mewelde came in this morning and he and Delone had issues with rib injuries. I don't know how much time it will be."
The loss of Angerer is a difficult one for the club. Pagano is a gifted defensive coach, and he developed a great regard for Angerer's energy and tackling ability. He did say Angerer will return this year.
"It's all those things (energy, top tackler). He's the signal-caller," said Pagano. "He's the guy who stands in front of the huddle. He has the respect of all those guys in the huddle.
"When you lose your signal-caller, you lose your middle backer for an extended period of time, it means a lot. The guy is productive. He's a play-maker, he's a warrior. He is a Colt. He has all the Colts traits you are looking for. Now, it will be up to somebody else to step in and fill that void until we get him back.
"It was a smart move by Ryan (Grigson) getting the two linebackers in from Philly (Greg Lloyd and Moise Fokou). Jerrell Freeman played well and the other guys played well. We have Mario Harvey, a kind of a jack-of-all-trades type of guy. He's been able to play both outside linebacker positions. He's played some inside, a couple of positions for us. … We'll continue to look at the waiver wire, see what happens and see if there is somebody on the street that we've had some history with."
Pagano praised the club's overall tackling since that is one area that cannot be simulated in camp practice shy of an outside scrimmage. He thought the offensive line played capably, too.
As for Luck, who was 10-of-16 for 188 yards and two touchdowns, Pagano saw nothing that caused him to tone down the post-game praise he offered on the top draft choice.
"(It was) pretty much like we felt right after the game," said Pagano. "He had command of the offense. (He was) very efficient as far as spreading the ball around. He did a great job of…controlling the safety with his eyes and finding open receivers. When things weren't there, he…got into his checkdowns. He (hit) a couple of big plays and drove the team down the field. He did a great job that way.
"He made great decisions. There obviously are going to be some things there that he'll look at. He is his own worst critic. There are some things to work on."
The Colts close out the Anderson University part of training camp with practices open to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The public may view practices on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. (changed from the usual 1:50 p.m. start time) and Wednesday at 1:50 p.m. The team conducts its second night practice on Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 9:10 p.m. The team breaks training camp on Friday and plays in Pittsburgh on Sunday at 8:00 p.m. (ET), a contest telecast nationally by NBC Sports.