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Colts will miss Irsay’s presence, but say it’s ‘business as usual’

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Jim Irsay

INDIANAPOLIS – When it came to the issue of his owner being forced to miss about a third of their season, Chuck Pagano was both very short and very long in his comments on Wednesday.

Initially asked about the effect of owner Jim Irsay’s six-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy which stemmed from a DUI arrest in March, the Colts’ coach responded only by saying “business as usual.”

When asked about him not being in the locker room, Pagano said, “His spirit will be there.”

But when asked if he could relate to what Irsay will go through while he’s away from the team, Pagano offered up a passionate answer.

“Twelve weeks worth, so I’ve got a real good sense,” said Pagano, referring to the time he was away from the Colts in 2012 while battling Leukemia. “You pull anybody away from this game that has the passion and drive and love for this sport that we’re so privileged to play and coach, you feel helpless. Believe me. You feel helpless.

“I have a really good understanding that is really fresh in my mind.”

So is the fallout of the decision by the commissioner on Tuesday to ban Irsay for what ends up around 40 percent of the season. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday Irsay can’t be at the team headquarters or have any contact with personnel from the team or face more disciplinary action from the league.

“It’s going to be tough. He’s always a good presence and he gets so excited about the games,” said tight end Coby Fleener. “Not having that will be tough.”

But Fleener and the rest of the team did echo Pagano’s sentiments that the team will march on with no issues during Irsay’s six-game absence–the first of which is Sunday’s season opener against the Broncos in Denver.

It is the first game which Irsay will miss in the Indianapolis era of the franchise.

“I don’t think it’s going to change our preparation in a sense. It’s obviously not ideal but for us it’s business as usual,” said Luck of Irsay’s absence. “I don’t think it will have any negative impact preparation and the games. When he comes back it will be great.”

One thing that receiver T.Y. Hilton said he’ll miss over the next month-and-a-half was Irsay’s enthusiasm for the games. Irsay was often seen in the team’s post-game speech videos on the website and made a few appearance at training camp practice this July and August.

“We’re gonna miss him a lot. His locker room presence, he would come in and get us ready for the games,” said Hilton of Irsay. “But we’ve got his back so when it comes Sunday he’ll be on our minds and we’ll be ready to play for him.”

Trying to make it almost as if he is there.