Colts are confident heading into opener

INDIANAPOLIS -- The moment crossed Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano’s mind almost three weeks ago. It was verified a week after that.

Pagano’s Colts were thoroughly outplayed in their preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 11. Pagano admitted it immediately after the game. Owner Jim Irsay apologized to the fans and called out his team on Twitter the next day.

But the Colts bounced back and had a strong performance against the New York Giants on Aug. 18. They played even better the following week in a dominating defensive performance against the Cleveland Browns.

It was then that Pagano got a feel for what type of team he'll have this season. He referred to those games as a tell-tale sign.

“Putting two back-to-back solid performances together in all three phases,” Pagano said. “There was probably a hiccup here and there, but that told us a lot.”

The games are about to start for real for the Colts and the rest of the league -- outside of Baltimore and Denver -- this weekend when they open the season against the Oakland Raiders at home on Sunday.

Pagano acknowledged he’s worried about the opener, but that’s probably the case for most coaches around the league because we all know regular-season games are way different than preseason games.

Most teams keep things pretty vanilla scheme-wise during the preseason. That's not the case during the regular season.

The Colts are 0-3 in their past three regular-season openers. All three of those games were on the road, though.

“Everybody’s excited preseason is over, regular season is here,” defensive end Cory Redding said. “We’re just looking forward to seeing the people that we added here in the offseason and to really showcase our skills for four quarters. Not 10 plays, not the half, but for all four quarters.”

There’s a chance the Colts could be without starting linebacker Pat Angerer and kick returner/receiver David Reed against the Raiders. Both players are dealing with a concussion. Pagano has already ruled out linebacker Kavell Conner (ankle) for Sunday.

The Colts should be able to jump out to a 2-0 start before facing the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 22. Their first two games are at home against the Raiders and Miami Dolphins.

“I’m not worried about our effort,” Pagano said. “They’re going to go play and they’re going to play hard for 60 minutes. They’ll play smart. They’ll be efficient. Is there going to be some mistakes? Yeah, there always is. … Are they going to make a play here and there? Sure. They’re professional athletes, we know that.”