INDIANAPOLIS –Mistakes in any form of work can happen, and the key is to correct matters without repeating the issue.
One such situation happened in the first half last Sunday at Pittsburgh when rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton bobbled a well-placed pass from Andrew Luck, and it turned a possible big play into a turnover.
Head Coach Chuck Pagano was one of the eyewitnesses, and he and his staff took corrective action. The coaches addressed it by calming the situation and keeping Hilton in the flow of the offense.
"You've got to be able to put that stuff behind you," said Pagano of the ability to overcome adversity in competition. "What we tell the whole team and what we preach is, '60 minutes, one play at a time, all you've got.' "
Pagano is a first-year head coach, but he has 28 previous years tutoring different positions, 18 years collegiately and 10 years in the NFL. He has coached defensive backs in four previous college posts, after playing safety himself at Wyoming.
He oversaw the secondary with three other NFL teams prior to arriving with the Colts. Pagano knows the importance of rebounding mentally from allowing big plays that went the wrong way.
"Coaching the defensive backs for a long, long time, you know they've got to go against some great wide receivers, some big guys, some tall guys that can run and catch," said Pagano. "A guy is going to give up a play here or there. … We used to say (about opponents), those guys are getting scholarships, too.
"The biggest thing he's got to be able to do is put it behind him. If you dwell on a bad play, the next two, three, four plays are going to be the same way."
The word "amnesia" has been used by Colts personnel the past few weeks as a means to teach a squad burgeoning with young players to get over plays that could have been made differently.
Luck was able to get past an interception that went for a touchdown by zipping four straight completions on an 80-yard march that ended in the Pittsburgh end zone. After Hilton's miscue on the ensuing possession, the coaching staff went into teaching mode with the rookie receiver.
"It's a credit to Bruce (Arians) and Clyde (Christensen) and the rest of the coaching staff to grab guys," said Pagano. "It's like T.Y. (Hilton), I sit there and I see that ball come out of his hands, pops up in the air and we got an interception, which should have been not only a huge gain but could have been a touchdown because they kind of had a busted coverage in the back end.
"You see him (Hilton), he's pounding the dirt, you get him over there and say, 'Look you made a mistake. Just forget about it. Put it in the back of your mind and come back and make a play.' Then Bruce grabs him and talks to him. If you remember the very next series, who did the ball go to? It went to T.Y. So Bruce has got a great feel for that kind of thing. (He) brought him out in motion, put the ball in his hands on a little bubble screen, just to get the kid's confidence back and let him know that we have faith in all you guys, not only in T.Y., but in all our players. (We) put the ball right back in his hands. It's just again credit to Bruce and the rest of the guys."
It is a growing process for all players, and Hilton appreciated the second chance.
"It meant a lot. It means they have a lot of trust, a lot of faith in me," said Hilton. "They know I can make plays. For them to do that for me, it meant a lot, and I kind of got back in the flow of my game.
"You have to have amnesia. Plays like that are going to happen. Good or bad, you have to be able to let it go and be ready for the next play."
Hilton ended the night with two receptions for 37 yards, along with a 13-yard punt return. His five receptions for 62 yards in the first two games tie him for second among club preseason leaders, and he also has a nine-yard run on a reverse.
Hilton is taking solid steps, if not baby ones, along with other young receivers. The key to those steps is learning from past mistakes. By doing so, he will have further chances to compete along with fellow rookies like LaVon Brazill, Jabin Sambrano and Griff Whalen. First-year performers like Kris Adams, Jeremy Ross and Jarred Fayson also are vying for opportunity in the offense, while veteran Donnie Avery may make his initial appearance in the lineup on Saturday at Washington.
Hilton will keep grinding. He sees the youth among the group as well as the veteran mix.
"When you have a veteran like Reggie Wayne, it's pretty much good because you have an older guy you can look up to, and you have younger guys who can go in and contribute right away," said Hilton. "Reggie talks to me out on the field. He gives you all the information he has, and you go from there as a receiver.
"Preseason is going good right now. I'm still learning. I still have a lot to learn. I'm just going with the flow right now. I'm picking Reggie Wayne's brain and going from there."