<
>

Chuck Pagano downplays Coby Fleener's critical comments

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Tuesday that he spoke with Coby Fleener recently to clear the air over some comments the tight end made to the New Orleans media after signing with the Saints.

"I think things get taken out of context," Pagano said. "I don’t think his intentions, the way it was written, was anything close to that.”

Fleener, who spent his first four seasons with the Colts, questioned the effort of some of his teammates after signing a five-year, $36 million contract with the Saints.

“I think it’s one of those situations where it really reveals character,” Fleener said on the conference with reporters on March 11. “The guys that kept fighting through it — knowing that we may not have our star quarterback on the field but we still have a chance to win the game — those are the guys you want kind of in your corner. And the other guys, it becomes pretty apparent that they’re along for the ride.”

The Colts didn’t have quarterback Andrew Luck for nine games, went 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011 last season. Fleener's comments were surprising because the Colts have routinely had a close locker room under Pagano.

“Considering Andrew was down for nine weeks, Matt comes in and goes 5-3, a 40 year old quarterback,” Pagano said. “Going in to Week 17 you’re playing with two guys (quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley) who haven’t been in your building for over a week in Freeman and Lindley and you win a football game in the National Football League. We needed to win a football game and we won a football game with two guys off the street at the quarterback position. I’d be hard pressed to say anybody was along for the ride.”