Colts rebuilding from bottom up

"I put a lot of pressure on myself to raise the standard of play each week," he said.

He also sounds like he will put some pressure on his teammates.

"I may be very naive in saying this, but we are not going in there to lose any games," Luck said. "We'd love to make the playoffs and have a chance to win the Super Bowl. That's the reason you practice, regardless of how old, young or inexperienced your team may be."

The Colts are so inexperienced that the new coaching staff has installed the new offense and defense six times. Typically, a team has three such installations.

There is much to learn here because there are so many new players, and also because the holdovers were set in their ways. Veterans Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, for instance, have been 4-3 defensive ends in a Tampa-2 defense their entire careers. Now both are being asked to play outside linebacker in a pretty complex 3-4.

Asked how many exhibition games would be optimal for his team, new coach and former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, citing the youth, said he'd like to play 10.

He was kidding.

We think.

In order to make his new team more like his old team, Pagano brought in three Baltimore imports — safety Tom Zbikowski, defensive end Cory Redding and defensive tackle Brandon McKinney.

Pagano and his staff will need all the help they can get to make the Colts competitive quickly. This could be the kind of team that is better in Week 17 than in Week 1. And to that extent, the Bears might have caught a break by being first up on their schedule.

"There will be a curve," Pagano said. "We know we're going to have some hard days. But we also know the foundation of what we have is solid."

The Colts couldn't finish all of their reconstruction in just one offseason. There are questions on the offensive line, at receiver — beyond Manning's old buddy Reggie Wayne — and on defense.

So they will be relying heavily on the arm of luck and the leadership of Pagano.

"I think leaders are born," Grigson said. "Chuck has that. He knows how to identify with each and every guy out here. Just like he did with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, and then with rookie free agents he had that he turned into players. There is such a vast array of guys he is able to reach."

It's good to know Pagano has a lot of tools in his belt. He is going to need them.

Twitter @danpompei


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