INDIANAPOLIS –Fridays with Chuck Pagano can bring clarity and humor, but today was not one of those days.
With an injury report including quality and quantity that casts question into a key AFC battle Sunday, he deadpanned like Hawkeye Pierce.
"It's like everybody else," said Pagano of his offensive line. "We're not the only (team) that's pregnant right now. We got what we got.
"We got a job to go do, and we're going to get it done. Try to find a way."
Troubling as the Colts face an aggressive Kansas City defense is that guards Hugh Thornton (neck) and Joe Reitz (concussion) – who both started last week – have not worked, along with Jeff Linkenbach (quad), who has been inactive for the past two games.
"We're in great shape," said Pagano. "Awesome, they're ready to roll."
Pagano said he would take a wait-and-see approach to a configuration that would have regulars Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus at tackles. Samson Satele should return for a 12th start at center, while Mike McGlynn, who opened for Satele last week, should slide back for an 11th start at right guard.
Rookie Xavier Nixon, a natural tackle who played 61 snaps for an injured Reitz at right guard last Sunday, could move to the left side for a first-ever start.
At the moment, Indianapolis has one other healthy lineman, rookie center/guard Khaled Holmes.
The Colts likely are assured to be starting a seventh different line unit heading into a hostile environment against a defense with 43 sacks and six touchdowns off takeaways.
"Chuck preaches every week, 'Next Man Up. If you're on the roster and a part of the team, anything's possible,' " said Cherilus. "He makes sure we practice like we're starters. He gives everyone an opportunity to know what it's like when that moment comes to be ready for it.
"We've been around since training camp. We have a feel for who we are and what we can do. It's football. Guys are going to get hurt. The goal is to go all five starters, but that's not what happens. Every week we find a way to get it together, do our job and win ballgames."
Cherilus is a big proponent of the 'business as usual' approach in situations such as this.
"That's it really, it's what you have to do," said Cherilus. "That's why football is such a great sport. It's all about your job and what you do. Regardless of who's playing next to you or who's not, it's your job to do your part. Hopefully we all do our jobs (well enough) to win the game."
With a first start looming as well as possibly playing a second spot in two games, Nixon
has been conditioned to that mindset.
"I take a mental approach to prepare myself for any situation, and the guys help me out on the field and in the meeting room to be ready," said Nixon. "I did pretty good last week, but there's always room for improvement."
T.Y. Hilton missed Thursday's work and was limited on Friday. The second-year player has battled a shoulder injury the last four weeks.
"It's just been lingering a little bit, flares up every now and then," said Pagano. "It's more us holding him out and resting him to make sure we get him to Sunday.
"He's a tough kid, and I think you'd have to pull the arm off him to get him out of the game."
Greg Toler (groin) went from full to zero to limited work from Wednesday-to-Friday. Pagano said sitting him Thursday was a precaution and that Toler is closer than before to playing for the first time since October 20 against Denver.
With a final session on Saturday, Toler could be worked again since the expected cold conditions at Kansas City could be tricky for an injury of this nature.
PRACTICE REPORT – Did not participate: DT-Ricky Jean Francois (foot), OT-Jeff Linkenbach (quad), S-Sergio Brown (groin), OG-Joe Reitz (concussion), DT-Montori Hughes (knee), OG-Hugh Thornton (neck); Limited Participation: LB-Daniel Adongo (hamstring), WR-T.Y. Hilton (shoulder), CB-Greg Toler (groin); Full Participation: DT-Aubrayo Franklin (rest), LB-Robert Mathis (rest), C-Samson Satele (elbow), RB-Donald Brown (neck), FB-Stanley Havili (knee), WR-LaVon Brazill (foot).
INJURY REPORT – Doubtful: Linkenbach, Jean Francois, S. Brown, Reitz, Hughes; Questionable: Thornton, Adongo, Hilton, Toler; Probable: Franklin, Mathis, D. Brown, Satele, Brazill, Havili.