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Indy hoping to make most of 2nd chance at playoffs

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Indy hoping to make most of 2nd chance at playoffs

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indianapolis allowed one postseason-clinching chance to slip away at Houston.

It doesn't intend to let the same thing happen again at Kansas City.

``It's the playoffs. This is the playoffs,'' interim coach Bruce Arians said before Wednesday's practice began.

For the Colts (9-5), this is a rare second chance in a league where players and teams risk being left behind any time they miss an opportunity.

Just ask the Chicago Bears, 7-1 at midseason and now fighting just to make the playoffs. Or the Baltimore Ravens, who were in contention to earn the AFC's top seed three weeks ago. Or quarterback Alex Smith, who led San Francisco to last year's NFC championship game and a 6-2-1 record this season before losing his starting job to Colin Kaepernick.

The Colts are not looking back after making a historic turnaround.

They didn't complain when team owner Jim Irsay and new general manager Ryan Grigson started over in March by cutting team captains Peyton Manning and Gary Brackett, letting Jeff Saturday and Pierre Garcon walk away in free agency and opting to rebuild through the draft and with a handful of players who needed another chance to prove they belonged in the NFL.

They ignored the critics who pegged them as the league's worst team in training camp and projected three wins at best. They didn't despair after returning from a bye week and were told coach Chuck Pagano was taking an indefinite leave after being diagnosed with leukemia.

So they're sure not going to let the 29-17 loss at Houston linger.

Instead, they're focused on their next task - beating the reeling Chiefs (2-12), who have barely averaged 10 points per game and were shut out in Oakland last weekend.

``There's a playoff spot at stake, so it's win or go home,'' outside linebacker Robert Mathis said. ``We can't go out and lay an egg like we did last week.''

It's a simple scenario for the Colts.

Indy makes it in with a win over the Chiefs or in the season-finale against Houston (12-2) or if the Steelers (7-7) lose one of their two remaining games - Sunday at Cincinnati (8-6) or the final week against Cleveland (5-9).

But the Colts are chasing more than just a playoff spot.

A win would help them regain some momentum heading into January, allow Arians to tie the NFL record for victories after a midseason coaching change, make the Colts one of only four teams in league history to go from two or fewer wins one season to 10 or more the next, and, of course, take the pressure off Pagano if he returns to the locker room Monday as players, coaches and team officials are hoping.

Almost from the moment Pagano began chemotherapy treatments in late September, Arians and Indy's upper management targeted the Dec. 30 game as Pagano's return. With that game fast approaching, Arians has said twice this week that nothing is certain yet.

Arians said he is eager to go back to working just one job, offensive coordinator.

``Hopefully we can get this victory and secure our playoff spot and turn it back over to Chuck,'' he said.

Players can't wait, either.

``It would be great, I'm sure it would be emotional for a lot of people if it comes (next week),'' rookie quarterback Andrew Luck said. ``Hopefully, it will be soon. It will be great to have him back.''

Pagano may not be the only one making a return in the next few days.

Starting safety Tom Zbikowski has missed the last three games with a knee injury. On Monday, Arians ruled him out for the Chiefs game. On Wednesday, Arians acknowledged the prognosis had improved and said Zbikowski was questionable. He did dress for practice Wednesday.

``He's moving around really well, so he is not out as I reported earlier this week,'' Arians said.

Yet there are plenty of other concerns, especially along the offensive line where starting center Samson Satele is out with an ankle injury and right tackle Winston Justice (biceps) and backup center A.Q. Shipley (right knee) are both questionable.

If Satele and Shipley don't play, Arians will move right guard Mike McGlynn to center and the rest of the Colts will adapt again - just as they have all season.

``I think guys understand what's at stake,'' Luck said. ``There's a little more of a sense of urgency in terms of what to expect, but it is kind of like the playoffs.''

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John Wall shares priceless workout video with his son, Ace

John Wall shares priceless workout video with his son, Ace

It's hard to imagine a better way to work out than how John Wall enjoyed his regimen Wednesday. 

Wall posted a video on Instagram doing pushups on a BOSU ball while his son, Ace looked on. All he wanted from his dad was a hug, though. 

It really doesn't get any better than that. 

Wall continues to work toward the 2020-21 season and his much-anticipated return to the floor after missing all of the 2019-20 campaign recovering from Achilles surgery. 

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In his absence Bradley Beal became one of the most consistent and prolific scorers in the NBA, the Wizards found a gem in sharpshooter Davis Bertans and saw key developments from young players such as Troy Brown Jr., Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura. 

Wall will return to a much different Washington team next season than the one he was forced to leave midway through the 2018-19 season. From all accounts, he looks ready to give them the boost necessary to become a legitimate force in the Eastern Conference. 

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DeAngelo Hall clarifies regret of not signing with Patriots: 'My heart was always in Washington'

DeAngelo Hall clarifies regret of not signing with Patriots: 'My heart was always in Washington'

Back in July, former Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall told NFL Network that his biggest career regret was signing with Washington in 2009 rather than the New England Patriots.

"Over a few million, I could've changed my legacy by being part of that dynasty," Hall said. "That was on the table for me, and I wish I would've made the decision to take less money and play for Belichick."

That, of course, quickly riled up Washington supporters on social media. Though it's understandable that Hall, and probably numerous other players, would look back and regret not signing with a team that racked up several Super Bowls, many took it as a direct slight to the Washington franchise. During an interview with Julie Donaldson, Hall, who will join Washington's radio booth for the 2020 season, explained his true feelings on the 2009 situation.

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Saying he had regrets about not signing with the Patriots was not a diss to Washington, because the reason he ultimately stayed in the DMV was due to his love for the team and its fans.

“My heart was always in Washington and it was no hesitation in my mind to sign my contract and continue being a member of the Washington Football team," Hall said.

Hall admitted that the chance to win in New England is something he still thinks about. But, that really shouldn't come as a surprise. Now removed from his NFL career, hindsight is 20/20 and almost any player would look back on a potential opportunity to further their legacy with a ring as a missed shot.

Hall is no different, but it doesn't mean he didn't appreciate his time with the Burgundy and Gold. In nine full seasons in Washington, he gained valuable experiences that helped transform him into who he is today.

"But that didn’t happen and it’s made me a better person because of it," Hall said referring to him not signing with New England. "Washington has taught me so many life-long lessons."

Though he doesn't have a Super Bowl ring, the DMV native and Virginia Tech alum got the opportunity to play for his hometown team and cement his own legacy in Washington. So although he may look back and ponder what could have gone differently, he understands he can't change the past. He's okay -- and happy -- with that.

To him, Washington was always meant to be.

"C’mon man. Was there ever any doubt that I was not staying in Washington? Nobody would have believed you," Hall said. "100 percent, I’m Washington for sure.”

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