INDIANAPOLIS – It’s sitting there towering over the rest of the one-story West 56th Street complex-and it’s there for a reason.
A full synthetic field and high ceiling make the Colts’ indoor practice facility almost as good as the outdoors when mother nature takes a turn for the worst. With the unpredictability of Indiana weather, it comes in handy.
This week, it didn’t.
“You can be in the comforts and confines of the indoor with the heater on and all that nice stuff, but that ain’t how it’s going to be,” said head coach Chuck Pagano referring to the adverse conditions expected for the Colts’ game in Cincinnati.
In fact when they kickoff with the Bengals, it will be conditions that aren’t exactly commonplace for the Colts with the temperature hovering in the upper 20s and lower 30s. The team plays its home games in a retractable-roof stadium that protects from precipitation and the team’s AFC South road games are played in the warmer weather cities of Houston, Jacksonville and Nashville.
Should freezing rain and snow arrive Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium-which forecasters say there is a 70 percent chance it will-it will be the first time the Colts have played in those type of conditions since the 2009 regular season finale in Buffalo.
Hence the reason Pagano thought it was important the Colts venture out into the elements especially the last two days when snow and below-freezing temperatures blanketed the Indianapolis area.
“To just throw them out there Sunday at 12 o’clock at warm up and then kick off at one, it wouldn’t be fair to any of us,” said Pagano of the outdoor practices.
Safety LaRon Landry was the first one to side with the coach’s decision to push the workouts into the cold.
“Yeah, it was a necessity,” said Landry. “We got to get adjusted and acclimated to it. We’re going out there, it’s probably going to be snowing, so yeah, it was a necessity.”
When it comes to workouts in the element, the key for Pagano is ball security. While players are trained to excel in any weather, rain and snow can cause issues with fumbles and interceptions especially if the wind plays a role.
That’s why we got outside all week-long. If it’s sleeting sideways and 30 degrees, 20 degrees, it really comes down to ball security, taking care of it. Makes throwing the ball a little bit difficult too, so better pack a good run game.”
Pep Hamilton’s run-oriented offense could actually come in handy if conditions worsen. If they will could be a question since the rushing unit has been up-and-down this season, averaging 4.4 yards a carry while gaining 1,313 years-each ranking 20th in the National Football League.
Yet Hamilton believes a cold and snowy day would bring out the best in his offensive rushing unit, which would face those conditions for the first time all season long.
“I think that should hopefully play in our favor,” said Hamilton. “We consider ourselves to be a mentally tough bunch. We can overcome the elements. There are no excuses for us not to go out and play good offensive football.”
After all, the ditched the heat for the cold just to make sure.