The NFL’s concern regarding player health and safety has, in the opinion of some, made teams too concerned about player health and safety. Colts coach Chuck Pagano, in order to best prepare his players for the 2017 season, is pushing back against that.
“There’s a perception out there, and we have to change it,” Pagano told reporters on Tuesday. “This is a grown man’s game. It’s a physical football game, obviously. And a physical sport. It’s a team sport. It doesn’t fall on one guy. There’s only one way you can play it. You’ve got to practice it. If you don’t practice it and you can’t tackle on defense, you’re not going to be a good defense. So we’re putting an emphasis on it.”
That mentality manifested itself in multiple skirmishes during Tuesday’s padded practice, including a tussle between receiver T.Y. Hilton and cornerback Vontae Davis.
“Just competing, that’s all,” Hilton told reporters. “At the end of the day, guys are going to compete. You want to show that dog. Me and him showed our dog and at the end of the day, as soon as the period was over we shook hands and talked about it. We’re just trying to get better and competing and just get guys involved.”
After a pair of disappointing seasons following the first AFC title game appearance in the post-Peyton era, the Colts felt compelled to do something different. Whether it leads to a different outcome on the field remains to be seen.