- Mark Dubec
- Colts tight end Coby Fleener spoke to the media on preparing for the Rams and rallying to the defense of fellow NFL player Jonathan Martin, a college teammate, who was targeted by a bully on his own Dolphins squad.
Last Sunday evening the Colts (6-2) managed to pull out the victory over the Houston Texans 27-24 using some late game offensive heroics from Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton. The duo connected on three second-half touchdowns, which provided the improbable comeback after being down 21-3 at the half.
This week the team is hoping to get off to a better start against the visiting St. Louis Rams. (3-6)
Today at the Colts Complex the coach and players answered questions about their approach to the Rams — plus the big topic around the NFL at the moment: Miami Dolphins player Jonathan Martin left his team and has accused teammate Richie Incognito of harassment and bullying. The Dolphins suspended Incognito on Sunday.
Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener were teammates of Martin's at Stanford.
"He's a close friend," Luck said. "We had a lot of great times at Stanford. I have talked to him. It's a really unfortunate situation, it does hurt. Out of respect to him, I would rather not talk about it anymore, but he is a close friend."
Fleener offered a brief response: "Awesome guy, good football player, can't say enough good stuff about him. He and I have texted back and forth and it's an unfortunate situation. I wish nothing but the best for him and the whole Dolphins organization."
When asked about the accusations that Martin lacked toughness, Fleener lashed out: "I think that's a stupid, stupid statement. If somebody wants to dispute that I would be happy to talk to them."
Coach Pagano said he has not addressed his team about the NFL locker room bullying situation. Frankly, he doesn't seem too concerned about it:
"I can't speak to anybody else's locker room. We are fortunate we have horseshoe guys that have horseshoe traits."
Trent Richardson has been a disappointment since coming over from the Cleveland Browns in a trade for next year's No. 1 pick in the draft. He has yet to show the burst or production worthy of a player drafted No. 3 overall in last year's draft.
At this point you have to wonder, is he just not up to speed with the offense and the play calling, or maybe he really just is the player we have been seeing on the field. Coach Pagano said some of his struggles are situational: "He has the ability. Once he gets more comfortable, the game and the situations will come. We need to get him in space more, get the ball in his hands more."
It seems that Donald Brown is outplaying Richardson at times. Pagano said the team knew what they were doing when they drafted him where they did. "I think he is just starting to hit his stride.It's not surprising to us, he's a great change-of-pace guy."
Coach said that Reggie Wayne is back with the team and he is proving to be a huge asset to the team even when he can't take the field. "Reggie is another set of eyes. He does 8 1/2 hours of rehab and beats everybody into work. He is like an assistant wide receivers' coach, he has his duties. He helps break down our opponents secondary and shares that information with the guys."
With franchise quarterback Sam Bradford out of the rest of the season due to injury, the Rams are led by their veteran back-up quarterback Kellen Clemons. The Colts are more concerned with the recent outstanding play of rookie running back Zac Stacy and the formidable Rams defense.
"They have a bunch of athletes," Luck said. "Fast, physical guys. We know it's going to be a heavyweight fight. We know we need to execute better — much better — to start games. You can't survive your mistakes forever in a sense, so we will focus on it and try to improve."
This Colts team is resilient and knows how to handle adversity. The goal of a well-balanced team has been reached, but none of this season's success would be possible without the incredible play of second-year quarterback Andrew Luck. No matter the situation, the young man is not rattled and seems to be at his best with the game on the line. Pagano was asked how he knows when a quarterback has "it." The veteran NFL coach paid his quarterback quite a compliment.
"The "it" factor is Andrew...That's it. You come here (the NFL) with it, you're born with it."
The Colts are considered one of the top teams in the league and they hope to ride number 12 to the playoffs and beyond this year. A victory over the struggling Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium this Sunday will get them closer to their ultimate goal.