Injuries force Colts to face more quarterback questions
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Colts coach Chuck Pagano just shook his head Monday.
What else could he do given the circumstances?
Starting quarterback Andrew Luck has already missed eight games this season and may miss this weekend’s regular season finale against Tennessee. Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been knocked out of the last four games with myriad injuries and finished Sunday’s game against Miami with his injured right shoulder in a sling.
Third-stringer Charlie Whitehurst was barely able to run out the clock against the Dolphins after hurting his hamstring and was put on injured reserve Monday, leaving recently signed Stephen Morris as the only healthy quarterback on Indianapolis’ roster.
Pagano confirmed that the Colts (7-8) had former Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman in for a workout and that the team was now debating whether to sign him. If they do, Pagano acknowledged he could start.
“I don’t know,” Pagano said. “If we have to go down that road, we’ll have to decide who gets the lion’s share of the reps (in practice).”
It’s been that kind of season in Indianapolis.
Their lofty Super Bowl aspirations were derailed by a series of injuries, bad execution and poor play-calling. Yet Indy has somehow overcome the two longest losing streaks of Pagano’s tenure, three games, and managed to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
To make it, and perhaps save Pagano’s job, Indianapolis still needs a lot of help from around the league and another win from its depleted quarterback corps.
The good news is that for the first time in several weeks, Pagano did not immediately rule out Luck.
“I didn’t say anything on ruling him out,” Pagano said before being asked if Luck would play if the Colts were eliminated before kickoff. “I think that’s a discussion that, obviously, Mr. (Jim) Irsay, Ryan (Grigson), myself and Andrew would have to have.”
Hasselbeck, who improved to 5-3 as a starter with Indy’s 18-12 victory at Miami, is officially listed as doubtful with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. The 40-year-old Hasselbeck said it’s the first time in his 17-year pro career that he hurt his throwing shoulder.
Whitehurst was hurt late in Sunday’s game as he scrambled and fell awkwardly toward the sideline. As he limped to the bench, Whitehurst tossed his helmet and later acknowledged he might not have been able to finish the game if he had to do much more than kneel down once.
Morris, who was signed Thursday, spent most of the 2014 season on Jacksonville’s practice squad and most of this season on Philadelphia’s practice squad. With the depth chart so thin, the Colts almost certainly have to sign another quarterback.
Pagano insists his job status isn’t his focus.
After telling reporters he had no regrets about turning down a one-year contract extension during the offseason, he acknowledged all he really wants to do is find a quarterback who is healthy enough to win the finale and defy those incredibly long odds at winning the AFC South..
“I had some pretty crazy odds a couple of years back,” Pagano said referring to his battle with leukemia. “Believe.”
Notes: The Colts also placed starting guard Hugh Thornton on injured reserve with an ankle injury. Pagano said Thornton would need surgery. ... Pagano is hopeful that safeties Colt Anderson (ankle) and Winston Guy (hamstring and shoulder) will practice Wednesday. Linebacker Josh McNary (groin) is listed as day to day, while linebacker Trent Cole is going through the concussion protocol.