Pagano anxious about returning to Baltimore

INDIANAPOLIS -    Colts coach Chuck Pagano is already ditching his doctor's advice.

   Instead of scaling back his workload, he figures he'll work overtime getting ready for this week's playoff game.

   One day after the cancer-beating coach found out he and his team were headed to Baltimore for the AFC's wild-card round, the former Ravens defensive coordinator acknowledged he would spend more time than usual meeting with Indy's offense and special teams to tell them everything he knows.

   "My doc said be prudent, if you remember, but I may not be prudent this week in spending a lot of time in a lot of different areas in trying to get as much information out as I possibly can and help where I can," Pagano said Monday. "Again, these guys, they've got the tape and they will be able to study it from a scheme standpoint what we need to do to go win a football game."

   If they need any additional insight, Pagano can provide it.

   He spent three seasons as Baltimore's secondary coach and 2011 as the team's defensive signal-caller, giving him intricate knowledge about one of the league's most feared defensive units. He spent four seasons going head-to-head against quarterback Joe Flacco in practice, and as a former special teams coach, he took an interest in that phase of the game, too.

   That's more information than the Ravens (10-6), or any team, would like an opponent to have. And unlike the financial world, there are no rules in the NFL barring insider trading.

   Sure, some of the names and faces in Baltimore have changed since Pagano took the Indy job last January, but he's been around long enough to know what hasn't.

   "If I tell you, I might as well call (Ravens coach) John (Harbaugh) and tell him exactly what I'm telling our guys and then they may go and change everything," Pagano said with a sly smile after being asked what advice he would pass along.

   "I can sit down and watch some tape with anybody on the offensive side of the ball, with the coaches, and if there's some questions that need to be answered based on coverages, and fronts, and techniques, and personnel and things like that, than obviously having spent the last four years there, I would be crazy not to spend some time with them."

   If Pagano does need to take a break, there will be no shortage of fill-ins.

   Safeties coach Roy Anderson and special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf followed Pagano from Baltimore to Indy during the offseason, Colts linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald was in charge of the Ravens' linebackers from 2004-07 and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has gone round and round against Baltimore's defense over the past decade while working in Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

   Indy also can get intricate details from some ex-Ravens players. In an effort to speed up the defensive learning curve in Indy, the Colts (11-5) brought in defensive tackle Brandon McKinney, starting defensive end Cory Redding and starting safety Tom Zbikowski. McKinney is on season-ending injured reserve.

   All of that additional knowledge could help Andrew Luck and more than two dozen other Indy players better prepare for their first NFL playoff game.

   "They're a great team," Luck said of the Ravens after beating Houston in Sunday's regular season finale. "Obviously, Coach Pagano knows more about them than I do so lean on him if that's who it ends up being, but obviously a historic defense. I know the Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis so it'll be interesting. But I've heard it's a tough and hard place to play."

   The mental chess match is only part of this week's story line.

   On Sunday, Pagano celebrated an emotional win after returning to the sideline for the first time since being diagnosed with leukemia in late September.

   This week, he'll relive the emotional part all over again by returning to a city that befriend his family and facing a team that put him in position to become a head coach for the first time.

   Pagano isn't the only one thinking about the significance of this weekend's reunion.

   "Chuck's like a dad to me," Ravens safety Ed Reed said after Baltimore's loss in Cincinnati. "He means a lot to me. I would have much rather seen them in the AFC championship game than the first game."

   Harbaugh, meanwhile, is just eager to see Pagano back at work and ready to go.

   "It will be great. It's something that, in this profession is a big deal," he said Monday. "Relationships are important. But by the same token, it's a game and they're the opponent."

   An opponent that heads into the playoffs with three wins in its last four games, is playing with a purpose and has a decided advantage when it comes to details.

   "I'll be able to share quite a bit with our football team. A lot of intangible things, things that they won't be able to get from the video, just having the time that I spent there," Pagano said. "I'll be able to share some of those things and be able to give them some stuff again that they wouldn't normally be able to get."

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