Chuck Pagano’s first NFL win came at a pretty steep cost.
Less than 24 hours after beating St. Louis 38-3 in the preseason opener, the Colts’ new coach said starting inside linebacker Pat Angerer, last year’s leading tackler, could miss at least six weeks because of a broken foot.
It’s a big loss for a team trying to make a turnaround after a dismal 2-14 season gave them the No. 1 pick in April’s draft.
”He’s the signal-caller, he’s the guy that stands in front of the huddle,” Pagano said Monday. ”When you lose your middle backer for an extended period of time, it hurts a lot, and the guy is a warrior, he’s a Colt, he’s got all of Colt traits you’re looking for. Now it will be up to somebody else to step up and fill that void until we get him back.”
Angerer led the Colts with 146 tackles last season after replacing captain Gary Brackett, who missed most of the season with a torn rotator cuff.
Pagano also said backup linebacker Scott Lutrus will need season-ending surgery after a torn ACL, starting offensive guard Mike McGlynn will be out indefinitely because of a high ankle sprain and backup running backs Mewelde Moore and Delone Carter both have injured ribs that could keep them out of action, too.
The combination could leave the Colts thin at two key positions – linebacker and running back – heading into Sunday night’s game against Pittsburgh.
The problems at linebacker are of greater concern, though, as Indy makes the transition from a traditional 4-3 look to a 3-4 scheme. The move had already prompted Pagano to move Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis to linebacker and use another Pro Bowl defensive end, Dwight Freeney, in a standup spot, too.
Then, on the first day of training camp, the Colts lost linebacker A.J. Edds in a non-contact drill with a left knee injury. Two days later, Pagano confirmed Edds would miss the season with a ”significant” injury to his anterior cruciate ligament.
New general manager Ryan Grigson has tried to add some reinforcements, picking up linebackers Moise Fokou and Greg Lloyd in a trade with Philadelphia.
Who will replace Angerer? That’s still up in the air.
”Obviously, a smart move by Ryan getting two linebackers in here from Philly, so we have them,” Pagano said. ”Jerrell Freeman played well and the other guys played well, and we’ve got Mario Harvey, who’s been kind of a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy. We’ll continue to look at the waiver wire and see if there’s anyone there that we’ve had some kind of history with and maybe bring somebody in.”
Pagano did not say which foot Angerer injured.
One player who is available is Brackett, the longtime linebacker who was released by the Colts in a March salary-cap purge, though it’s unclear whether the Colts (No. 32 in the AP Pro32) would be interested in him.
Pagano didn’t say how much time he expected McGlynn to miss. It’s the second major injury to the offensive line. Ben Ijalana, last year’s second-round pick, will miss the entire season after injuring the ACL in his left knee on the first day of practice.
Indy signed McGlynn as a free agent from Philadelphia and immediately plugged him into the lineup at right guard.
”Seth Olsen has played there and (Jeff) Linkenbach played some guard at the beginning of camp, so I think we’ve got enough guys there who will play well,” Pagano said. ”I’m optimistic and pleased with where they (the offensive line) is at and obviously it’s only going to get better.”