Monthly Archives: April 2015

Irsay isn’t ruling out Chuck Pagano extension before season

INDIANAPOLIS — Hold off for now on officially calling Chuck Pagano a lame duck coach for the Indianapolis Colts.

Owner Jim Irsay hasn’t shut the door on giving Pagano a contract extension before the start of the 2015 season.

“I really feel positive about Chuck and what he’s done for us. There’s no question that he’s accomplished a lot since he’s been here,” Irsay said while speaking at the Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala, an event to help raise awareness and funds for cancer research. “And, obviously, we’re here for this gala because he had that illness in 2012. Really, it’s only been kind of two years almost that he’s been coaching. He’s done a very good job. Nothing rules out that we couldn’t have an extension done before the season. If not, we can still, I’m sure, probably work things out.”

Pagano turned down a one-year contract extension from the Colts earlier in the offseason. Pagano will officially become a lame duck coach if he and the Colts don’t work out a deal before the season starts.

“There were some efforts to talk about it and we just didn’t get there,” Irsay said. “Sometimes that happens and people have different opinions these days. If you go back to the old days, there were no agents involved. … Again, we’re real positive about Chuck Pagano and the things he’s done and it’s not a sign of anything extremely negative. We just haven’t gotten anything done in terms of a long-term contract.”

Irsay made sure to say that it’s not a Super Bowl-or-bust season for Pagano, who was hired in 2012. He led the Colts to the AFC Championship Game last season and they’ve won 11 games in each of the past three seasons. One thing Irsay did say, though, is that he wants better consistency from his team.

“Obviously we had a great year, but again, the Pittsburgh game, the Dallas game, the Patriots games, they were concerning and we’re looking to make sure that we get that consistency and are really playing, if health is with us, really playing with that top four group, that top three or four teams,” Irsay said. “I think last year Green Bay, Seattle, New England and probably even Dallas were really teams that were playing consistent and all those things. It seemed like the NFC had maybe three [teams] and the AFC had one [team] with the Patriots.”

The fact that Pagano is in the position of getting a new contract with the Colts is a positive when you take into consideration his health in the fall of 2012. He missed 12 games while battling leukemia. Pagano is healthy and enjoying help awareness for cancer research at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. The money raised at his event Friday helps support cancer research projects in Indiana and other states.

“Our goal right here in Indianapolis is to find a cure for all blood cancers,” Pagano said. “Just maybe we see that happen in our lifetime.”

Huskies’ four potential first-rounders draw an audience at pro day

SEATTLE — No team will offer up a quartet of defensive talent when the NFL draft starts on April 30 like Washington, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Huskies’ pro day was overflowing with coaches and scouts eager to see what Danny Shelton, Marcus Peters, Shaq Thompson and Hau’oli Kikaha had to offer, though only Kikaha participated in the testing of measurables.

While all four are first-round prospects — Shelton seems a certainty not to last until Round 2 — their draft narratives aren’t the same.

Shelton is the polite, thoughtful academic All-American who just happens to be remarkably light on his feet for a run-stuffing, pocket-mashing 338-pounder who has little to prove.

Thompson, who sported a “Superman” tank top during the workout, is the tweener safety/linebacker. He tipped the scales at 228 pounds and completed drills for both linebackers and defensive backs, showcasing plenty of explosive quickness. His biggest issue is finding a position, a challenge that includes telling suitors he has no interest in playing running back, which he did for the Huskies during much of the 2014 season.

“I got [a question about playing running back] today,” Thompson said. “I kind of made him mad because I told him I didn’t want to play running back anymore. Everybody has pretty much said strong safety or ‘Will’ linebacker.”

Kikaha is a tweener defensive end/outside linebacker, though his production as a pure pass-rusher should overcome that quandary — had had a nation-leading 19 sacks this past season. One issue he apparently has overcome is his injury history, as two seasons were killed by ACL surgery.

“It’s kind of gone away since the combine,” he said. “There were about 100 doctors who checked it out. They all seem to be pretty happy with it. No one has asked [about] it since.”

Peters is the most complicated of the four. The wide consensus is he’s a first-round talent, but he was kicked off the Huskies by first-year coach Chris Petersen following a confrontation with an assistant coach during practice, one of many issues he had with his new coaching staff. Though he patched things up enough with Petersen to participate with his former teammates at pro day, his coachability is a big question, one that he didn’t embrace talking about with reporters afterward.

“We talk about it and we move on. Playing for the future,” he said when asked about discussions he’d had with NFL personnel men concerning his past problems.

This foursome led 20 Huskies who worked out for the scouts on hand, including former quarterback Keith Price. Among the curious watching Washington’s pro day were Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, as well as new Washington Redskins GM Scot McCloughan.

Each of the Huskies’ fearsome foursome admitted that they are happy the draft process is winding down, though each will have a handful of meetings with teams before the draft.

Said Shelton, “This whole process is exciting, but exhausting that the same time.”