INDIANAPOLIS –Chuck Pagano is five days past his first win as an NFL head coach, and his next test arrives in less than 48 hours.
Pagano and the Colts have finished the bulk of preparations for Jacksonville, a game on Sunday at sold out Lucas Oil Stadium that marks the first divisional action this year for the club.
Pagano has said there is a "24-hour" rule for competing, meaning the result of a past game – in this case a 23-20 thrilling win over Minnesota – must be dealt with quickly because a new challenge awaits.
He believes his young club has responded accordingly.
"I feel we had three productive days, culminating with today," said Pagano. "We put the last one behind us early in the week and moved on. We have a great opponent coming to town. It's a division game. It means so much on so many levels. The focus has been outstanding."
Jacksonville visits Sunday, and the Jaguars have won two straight against the Colts. Indianapolis was swept last season by Jacksonville, only the second time an AFC South pulled the feat on the Colts in a season since 2002.
Pagano indicated his club is doing well on the injury front as it moves closer to Sunday.
"Winston Justice had a great week and looks to be in great shape. He looks like he's a 'go.' (Mike) McGlynn, (Samson) Satele practiced today (and) looked good. They look to be in good shape," said Pagano. "Austin (Collie) had a good week. Just like Winston, he'll come in tomorrow morning and the doctors will continue to monitor his progress. He's put back-to-back good days in and has felt good. Cory (Redding) went today. He got some work done. … Joe Reitz (knee) is still rehabbing. He's day-to-day with his rehab. He's making progress. We're shooting for Green Bay (on October 7). He had a minor procedure, a scope. We're shooting for Green Bay (with Pat Angerer). He's making great strides."
Linebacker Dwight Freeney has not practiced this week. Freeney injured an ankle early in the opener at Chicago, and he missed last week's game against Minnesota.
Pagano was told today his team was a favorite for the first time, something the coach indicated is not important. The sole focus is on playing well on Sunday.
"We don't even look at that stuff. That's the first I've even heard of that," said Pagano. "I just know where we started. I know where we want to finish. We're going to take it one week at a time, and none of that stuff matters. Things that we can control we're going to control and focus on us. … We want to play better (than last week) on Sunday."
Collie has worked well all week and hopes to be cleared for Sunday. Collie suffered a concussion during week two of preseason action and has not played since.
Collie feels his progress is good, and he is optimistic.
"I feel real good. I've felt great these last three days of practice," said Collie. "I'm still day-to-day. I felt good last week, but come the middle of the week not too hot. I feel good."
Collie started out feeling fine the week of the Minnesota game, then his condition was not quite where he wanted it as the game approached. He is cautious because of the experience.
"It's frustrating," said Collie. "From day one, from Monday, you really get your mind right, start getting mentally prepared in order to play the game. You get your hopes up. I think I got my hopes up too soon, which is why I'm not getting my hopes up right now. I'm day-by-day. The past three days went really well."
Recovery from a concussion is a continual process. Setbacks can be a part of the equation, and having a stalled process is not unusual.
"It's not, and I've learned that this time. I've been off-and-on for a couple of weeks now," said Collie. "I'm talking to the doctors every day, checking in with them. So far, I'm doing good."
WAYNE LOOKS FORWARD TO HAVING EDGE ON SUNDAY – Reggie Wayne was a freshman at Miami when he met Edgerrin James.
The personable James was quick to help Wayne at "The U," and the two later were teammates with the Colts from 2001-05.
On Sunday, James, the Colts' all-time leading rusher, is being inducted into the club's Ring of Honor. James is the ninth person honored in such fashion, and Wayne may lead the cheers on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I'm happy for him. I believe it's well-deserved. He's excited about it. I'm excited to see it go down," said Wayne. "We go way back, all the way back to my freshman year in college. He was the first non-freshman to give me a little knowledge, a little tutelage. We've kind of hung around each other from that point on.
"I miss being in the same locker room with him. He's definitely a major part of the foundation that's been built when it comes to the Indianapolis Colts. I'm excited for him to be back in the house. Hopefully, we have a good showing for him."
Peyton Manning has said James was the best teammate he ever had. Wayne knows what James brought to the Colts.
"(He brings) everything. He's so versatile. He brings good spirit from the locker room to the field. Just seeing him smile always makes you think it's not going to be so bad. I'm glad to have him back in the 317 (area code) and definitely in the stadium to check us out."
Wayne has 74 career touchdowns. Two on Sunday would push Wayne past James into third-place in Colts history.
When informed that James would like Wayne's name next to his on the Lucas Oil Stadium façade someday, Wayne smiled and offered advice to his buddy.
"Tell him, 'Don't be rushing my career.' "