INDIANAPOLIS –Pat Angerer battled gamely last season when the Colts were 2-14 by amassing 146 tackles, the NFL's fourth-highest total.
This year with the club at 8-4, it has been a tough time for Angerer. The third-year pro broke the fifth metatarsal bone in his foot on the first preseason snap, and he has subbed only in the last seven outings.
His 22 tackles pale to last year's production, but his reputation among teammates has not.
"He's gutting it out for the team. He's a true warrior," said Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians. "I don't think there's anyone more respected in the locker room than Pat for doing it.
"He could have easily gone on IR and tried to fix it again, but he wants to play football. Eighty-five percent of him might be better than 100 percent of a lot of guys."
Angerer had the tricky surgery a couple of days after the injury and was told his return would be six-to-eight weeks. Getting back was at the upper end of the expected scale.
"We gave it a lot of time. Some people come back in three weeks, some come back in six, some come back in 10. The doctor told me it was going to be six-to-eight (weeks). In my mind, I'm thinking four," said Angerer. "Obviously, that wasn't the case. Maybe I pushed it a little too hard. It was probably my fault if anybody's."
Angerer was a 16-game participant in each prior year, always being in the heart of the fray. Being at less than full ability is very difficult.
"The hard part is not being able to perform like you have been able to your whole career," said Angerer. "Mentally it's harder than the physical pain. It's tough.
"I (stink) at getting hurt. I (stink), I'm really bad with it. I have (no patience). You just feel useless. It's hard to deal with. Any way I can help, I want to. I want to be a part of this. It's an unbelievable organization, a great team."
Angerer has seen the team battle from a 1-2 and 2-3 start to 8-4. He has seen his head coach, Chuck Pagano, leave to fight leukemia. He has seen free agent linebacker Jerrell Freeman come on to lead the team in tackles in 10 different games and to total 155 stops in 12 games.
Freeman's success is a boost for Angerer, who takes being a good teammate very seriously.
"It makes it (his injury) easier," said Angerer of Freeman. "I know the team is taken care of. They're not missing a beat at all.
"It's been pretty frustrating, just not being healthy kind of (stinks). It's nice winning. That kind of makes it a little better. … It's (the season) something I want to be a part of. It's great, and I can't imagine sitting on the sideline and not being a part of this. I'll go out and help any way I can. Just being here is great. It's so nice to be a part of this and to see the heart in these guys."
Arians sympathizes with Angerer's plight and admires his courage, knowing the matter is difficult.
"I think he's disappointed in the season just because he can't do some of the things he's used to doing, but he still gives us a savvy, tough, hard-nosed football player who knows how to play the game," said Arians. "We have some teams who like to run the football coming up soon, and he should be a big part of it. There's no doubt it (is killing him)."
INJURY UPDATE – Arians said guard Joe Reitz will miss the Tennessee game due to the concussion he suffered last week at Detroit. Seth Olsen will start for Reitz. Reitz joins safety Tom Zbikowski (knee) and running back Donald Brown (ankle) in being out of action.
"Joe Reitz will be out. We're not going to risk his health at this point in time. I think he'll probably pass the test within a day or so, but we're not going to risk that," said Arians.