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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Colts hope to be healthy in 2014

By on 2/22/2014 08:00:00 PM

The Indianapolis Colts placed 17 players on the injured reserve in 2013, struggling to establish continuity on both sides of the ball because of it. When you go to battle, you prefer to do it with familiar faces. The Colts had a six-game stint where they started a different offensive line each week - insert Trent Richardson support here.

Winning 12 games - one being a playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs - under these circumstances is something to be proud of. Now let's see what the Colts can do with a healthy and motivated team in 2014.

Sean McMahon,
The Colts were obviously derailed by injuries last season, producing the always unnecessary "what if" comments over the last two months. Head coach Chuck Pagano is confident in his team's health moving forward, and believes that they will be fully recovered well before the regular season begins in September:
“Coming out of our last medical meetings with Dave Hammer and everybody and our training room and talking to our doctors, we feel like and they feel like everybody is trending in the right direction,” Pagano said. “There wasn’t anybody at this point off the top of my head who wasn’t headed for a return at some time in the spring, or at the latest training camp. We’re hopeful not to have to start anybody on PUP.”
Hopeful. Scary words by "Chuck Strong," but a definite improvement over hopeless. Here are some of the key names that missed the majority of the 2013 season for the Colts:

  1. WR, Reggie Wayne, Knee
  2. G, Donald Thomas, Quad
  3. TE, Dwayne Allen, Hip
  4. RB, Vick Ballard, Knee 
  5. RB, Ahmad Bradshaw, Neck
The list goes on. Not only did the Colts suffer injuries to key starters, but more than half of the 17 players that resided on injured reserve last season were under the age of 25. It's safe to say that last season was a "developmental hiccup" for the Colts.

Aside from the saturated injured reserve, the Colts endured lingering injuries to cornerback Greg Toler and rookie outside linebacker Bjoern Werner in 2013 as well. Both players were expected to improve an aging defense that was known for giving up the big play.

Wayne is by far the most important piece to this puzzle, and if his passion and desire to return are any indication, expect him to not only return healthy in 2014, but to thrive with fresh legs. While snowfall has decimated the majority of the east coast this winter, it has been a blessing in disguise for the Colts and Wayne:
“He actually just went back [to Florida],” Pagano said. "You can thank the snow gods for that. We had him a lot longer up here than we thought we would. He was grinding. Like I said, he put more time in there than our trainers did. He’s going to go back there for a couple weeks. But he won’t let up on the rehab, I know that.”
Colts' quarterback Andrew Luck has shown the ability to flourish under adversity throughout his short, two-year career, winning a bevy of games on fourth quarter drives. While 49ers' head coach Jim Harbaugh will forever be "Captain Comeback" to the Colts, he may need to ditch that nickname with Luck under center.

If you ask Harbaugh, Luck is only scratching the surface, and with a healthy stock of players in 2014, expect a Super Bowl victory to be the only accepted level of success for the extremely driven signal caller.

Follow Sean on Twitter @AFCSouthInjury and @49ersDefenseWins.


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