Redskins

Indianapolis preparing for Pagano's return

Indianapolis preparing for Pagano's return

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Colts head coach Chuck Pagano can resume coaching whenever he's ready.

On Thursday, Dr. Larry Cripe, told The Associated Press that Pagano had been cleared to return and that it was up to the coach and the Colts to determine when that will happen, and how much Pagano will do. Pagano's physician is not imposing any restrictions, either.

Pagano is expected to return to the team complex as early as Monday.

``Medically, I see no reason he cannot come back when he's ready to try and come back,'' Cripe said. ``Coach has done a great job with this, and I trust him.''

Cripe said he gave Pagano the good news the last time they met, though he declined to say when that happened.

Pagano has not been on the sideline since a Sept. 23 loss to Jacksonville, Indy's only home defeat this season.

Three days later, he was diagnosed with leukemia and immediately began the first of three rounds of chemotherapy. Players and most of the assistant coaches were told Oct. 1, the day the Colts returned from their bye, that Pagano was taking an indefinite leave from the team and that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians would fill in as interim coach. The team has left the light on in Pagano's office since then.

On Nov. 5, Cripe said the disease was in ``complete remission'' and that Pagano would undergo two more rounds of chemotherapy to ensure all the cancer cells had been destroyed. Pagano is scheduled to take oral medication and be closely monitored by doctors for the next two years.

During treatment, Pagano stayed in communication with players and coaches through phone calls and text messages; watched tape of practices and games; occasionally showed up at the team complex; and has spoken to the team before and after home games.

All the while, doctors continuously monitored Pagano's white blood-cell count to make sure the recovery was progressing.

But the Colts always pegged the Dec. 30 regular-season finale against Houston as the date they hoped to have Pagano back on the sideline - a goal that now appears likely to be met.

``I love that guy and I would love to see him in person on the sideline,'' Cripe said when asked if he would attend the Dec. 30 game. ``To me, the bottom line is that he's done what he needed to do, and he's done it with the clear goal that he wants to be coaching as soon as he can.''

Officially, the Colts (9-5) have not said when Pagano will return.

On Wednesday, Arians told reporters the team was keeping its fingers crossed and that it would be a ``great Christmas present'' if Pagano returned on Christmas Eve. When asked if he was ready to coach his final game, Arians responded: ``Heck, yes.''

Players are eager to get him back, too.

``It's going to be crazy. It's going to be a great moment, just having him back on an everyday basis with the team, knowing that's what he really wants, back with us coaching and back on the sideline,'' safety Antoine Bethea said. ``Obviously we know it's going to be emotional. It's going to be a great time.''

Cripe has given Pagano the same advice he does all of his patients: Don't try to do too much too fast.

``Look, if you get pooped out, adjust,'' he said.

What Pagano will find when he gets back is a vastly different team.

In early October, many still considered Indy one of the league's worst teams. Now, the Colts are a confident group on the verge of clinching their first playoff berth of the past-Peyton Manning era with a win Sunday at Kansas City or a Steelers loss.

The Colts are also chasing history.

With a win Sunday, Arians would tie the NFL record for victories after a midseason coaching change (nine) and the Colts would become only the fourth team to go from two or fewer wins to 10 or more the following season.

When Pagano was still coaching, Andrew Luck was trying to get comfortable in his new NFL surroundings, too. Now he owns the league's rookie records for most fourth-quarter comebacks (six), most victories by a No. 1 overall draft choice in the modern era (nine), and most yards passing in one game (433). He needs 26 attempts, 47 completions and 74 yards passing to break the NFL's single-season rookie records in all three categories. He still has an outside chance of catching Peyton Manning's rookie record for TD passes (28). Luck is currently 308 of 564 for 3,978 yards with 20 TDs and 18 interceptions.

But it was Pagano's illness that Arians credits for making all of this possible.

``They found a reason to play and when a team finds a reason to play, they'll overcome some things,'' Arians said. ``Chuck's illness took everybody, even strangers that we would bring off the street on Wednesday and we'd play on Sunday, and they'd fight their tails off. When you have guys playing hard for 60 minutes, you're going to win some games because most teams in this league don't play hard for 60 minutes.''

Most expect the transition from Arians back to Pagano to go smoothly. Coaches are anticipating the day-to-day operations will essentially remain unchanged from the script Pagano followed before taking his leave.

``We would always talk back and forth about what was good, what was not good and how we were going to try and defend our next opponent. So we're going to go back to that,'' defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said.

He added: ``When he comes in, we're ready to roll, same thing. It's uncharted territory I guess you would say.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

'My whole house is going to be jersey'd out': Redskins players explain why they swap jerseys

'My whole house is going to be jersey'd out': Redskins players explain why they swap jerseys

Tress Way wants an office. Does he need an office? No, and he admitted as much this week at Redskins Park. Regardless, the punter wants one and he has a vision for it, too.

That vision doesn't include a computer or a chair with solid back support or a fancy stapler, either. Instead, it's all about what will be hanging on the walls.

NFL jerseys. Lots and lots of NFL jerseys.

Way, like many of his teammates and many other players around the league, has been swapping jerseys with opponents following games for a handful of years now. Between the uniforms he has hanging in his locker at the organization's Ashburn practice facility and the collection he's developed in past seasons, he's now picked up more than enough to decorate that future office.

He loves the thought of it as much as he hates the thought of a touchback. 

"That'd be awesome," he said. 

Honestly, it's hard not to notice the other, non-Burgundy and Gold colors that dot the walls of the Redskins' locker room. About half of the players feature jerseys from other teams among their other belongings, if not more.

View this post on Instagram

1k 💪🏾💪🏾

A post shared by Daron Payne (@94yne) on

So, who do they target?

The most common answer is guys that they suited up with before the NFL. Way, for example, boasts one from his college long snapper. Quinton Dunbar looks for fellow Florida Gators, while Tim Settle hunts for other Virginia Tech Hokies. 

There are other reasons to make an exchange, however. Paul Richardson aims to acquire them from anyone who grew up in Los Angeles, like he did. Dunbar, meanwhile, will search for stars he's looked up to. After matching up with the 49ers, for example, he hopes to scoop Richard Sherman's uniform.

"I'm going to hit him up on Instagram," Dunbar said.

Some swaps are prearranged, such as the one Dunbar wants to orchestrate, while others are totally unplanned. Settle explained he doesn't go into games thinking about it, but if he takes a picture with someone, he'll offer to make a trade on the spot. 

Though the defensive tackle doesn't plan them out, he does have a specific idea for what he'll eventually do with the threads.

"My whole house is going to be jersey'd out," he said. "It's something that you get to work on, you're building something. It's every man's dream to have a nice, little decked-out man cave."

There is one especially prized piece currently on display in Ashburn, and judging by the amount of interest in it, it may need its own surveillance crew. That is the Tom Brady jersey that's dangling in Adrian Peterson's locker, a gift from one Hall of Famer to another.

Settle, who sacked Brady in Week 5, has long idolized the QB. So, please forgive the jealousy that creeps into his voice as he talks about the fact that Peterson was the one to receive Brady's No. 12. He understands it, but he's not thrilled about it.

"They've been in the league, they're dinosaurs," he said. "Two dinosaurs in the league."

Way, meanwhile, also considered approaching Brady after the Washington-New England contest. Ultimately, he decided against it for fear of being shut down.

"I'm terrified of that, that's why I never asked Tom Brady to switch," Way said, grinning. "I thought about asking Tom, 'Tom, I know you look up to my game, I look up to your game.' I was afraid of that rejection. Same with Brees that day that he broke the record against us [in 2018]. 'I know you look up to me, I look up to you. Maybe we could switch.'"

Settle and Way may have missed out on landing Brady's, but they have other names on their lists they intend to track down. And while the jerseys will one day be framed and mounted in offices or man caves, they will also represent something more than a sweet accessory to a room.

"They're part of memories, too," Settle said. "This is a dream. Trading jerseys with somebody you grew up with or played with or you look up to or that you want to meet, I'm all for it." 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

Quick Links

After Patrick Mahomes' injury, could Case Keenum or Colt McCoy be on the move?

After Patrick Mahomes' injury, could Case Keenum or Colt McCoy be on the move?

Patrick Mahomes hurt his knee Thursday night, and while the severity is unknown, Kansas City's Super Bowl plans just got dealt a major hurdle. 

The truth is if Mahomes needs knee surgery then the Chiefs might need to recalibrate their hopes for January and beyond. If Mahomes only needs rest, however, then the Redskins might actually be able to help. 

It's no secret Washington and Kansas City know how to make a trade. January 2018 the two teams worked out a blockbuster when quarterback Alex Smith came to the Redskins and cornerback Kendall Fuller along with a third-round pick went to the Chiefs. The same power brokers are in charge now that pulled off that trade: Andy Reid in KC and Bruce Allen in DC.

And oddly enough the Redskins have a bit of a surplus in veteran quarterbacks. Neither Case Keenum or Colt McCoy can replace Mahomes, the 2018 NFL MVP, but either signal caller might be able to keep the Chiefs afloat for a few weeks.

The trade deadline is approaching fast, coming October 29th. The Redskins are currently 1-5 and there is no reason to keep both Keenum and McCoy on the roster the rest of the year. 

Washington drafted Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick, and eventually, the Ohio State star will start for the Redskins. Beyond that, both Keenum and McCoy have contracts that expire after this season. Neither player figures in the long-term plans for the Burgundy and Gold, and certainly the future is to eventually go to Haskins.

Want one more mitigating factor? Even after his devestating injury last season, Alex Smith is due more than $20 million guaranteed next year. He has been at practice and games for weeks, and appears to be close with Washington upper management. It's not crazy to think that in some role Smith will be around in 2020 along with Haskins. That makes Keenum or McCoy that much more expendable down the stretch. 

If Kansas City needs somebody to run their offense for a few weeks, the Redskins should dangle McCoy or Keenum. Or both. 

It's unclear that either player would entice much of an offer, but keep in mind, McCoy is widely respected around the league and Keenum had the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game just two seasons ago. The return for Washington might not be much, but something is always more thank nothing. 

Most deals get made around necessity, and Kansas City might have a big need. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS