Irsay delivers clear message to Colts at minicamp workout
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis Colts opened Wednesday night's practice to the public. Then team owner Jim Irsay poured out his heart.
Moments after the Colts completed their second-to-last offseason workout, Indy's team owner strolled stoically onto the field, stepped inside the circle of players and did his best impersonation of Knute Rockne with an impassioned, finger-pointing speech.
The message to players was loud, clear and warmly embraced: Indianapolis has waited long enough for a second Super Bowl title.
''I was fired up, too,'' Pro Bowl safety Mike Adams said on a night he picked off Andrew Luck in the end zone and presented the ball to receiver T.Y. Hilton. ''He (Irsay) has the same goals we have - to hang another banner up and to win that Super Bowl.''
While some teams avoid talking about football's ultimate prize this early, the Colts have made no secret of their aspirations.
Last year's AFC runners-up invested heavily in free agency and brought in several older players, such as Andre Johnson and Frank Gore, who are still hungry for a title.
Adoring Colts fans responded with glee as they got their first glimpse at the new-look team.
One fan draped a No. 23 jersey over the blue railing, hoping Gore would sign it. Another screamed ''We Love You Frank'' as the former San Francisco running back stretched. And there was a collective roar when Luck threw a touchdown pass to Johnson, who tip-toed the back end line like his old friend and former college teammate Reggie Wayne did so many other times at Lucas Oil Stadium.
''You guys were able to witness a lot of our weapons we have offensively,'' tight end Dwayne Allen said. ''We're still not sure how defenses are going to play us this year. Who are you going to double-team?''
It was not all fun and games, though.
The defense came up with two interceptions, and the biggest scare came when new safety Dwight Lowery broke up a pass at the goal line and caused Allen to land awkwardly during a no-contact workout. Allen stayed on the ground briefly, grabbing toward his left leg before getting up and later returning to action.
''He's fine,'' Pagano said. ''He tweaked that thing and was back in on 7-on-7 drills. He's fine.''
But it was Irsay who stole the show.
He said he remains hopeful of working out a contract extension with Pagano, who is entering the final year of a deal he signed in 2012. Irsay said he had hoped to have it done by now.
The Colts also will focus now on reaching deals with Luck, Hilton and left tackle Anthony Castonzo. Hilton, a Pro Bowler, and Castonzo can both become unrestricted free agents next March. Luck is under contract for two more years, but is likely to get one of the richest deals in league history.
''There's nothing on Andrew,'' Irsay said. ''We know we're going to get him done. He'll be here for a long time.''
The Colts also are trying to finalize details on scrimmaging with another team during training camp. Irsay would not say which team, though he acknowledged it was likely to be a team in the Midwest. An announcement could come later this week, Irsay said.
As for Robert Mathis, the outside linebacker who won the league sacks title in 2013, Irsay said he didn't expect Mathis to be full-go when camp opens in August. Mathis is trying to defy the odds again by returning from a torn left Achilles tendon at age 34.
''We talked (previously) about early November, but it could be sooner than that,'' Irsay said, acknowledging Mathis recently said he hopes to be ready in September. ''Obviously, we know he is optimistic and a fast healer.''
Irsay also presented Mathis with a diamond-encrusted watch and a celebratory hug for becoming the inaugural Deacon Jones Award winner. The owner preceded it with a motivational speech that included tales from his past and a vision everyone at Lucas Oil Stadium shares.
''He just reiterated what we're chasing. We're chasing greatness,'' Pagano said. ''No one has more passion and love for the game and all those kind of things. He just wanted to let the guys know that we have something special going on and we can have a special season.''
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