After watching the tape of last Thursday night's game between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano knows that his team will have plenty of work to do when facing the Broncos on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET).
"Everybody's dialed in. It's going to be one heck of a challenge. We all know that," Pagano said Wednesday as the Colts began preparations for their next game.
"It's a great football team that we're going to play. We've got to handle the elements, the travel, the altitude, the time change. We all know that. But the good thing is that we've got guys in the locker room who have been down this road: they understand this. That stage and all that stuff won't be too big for them. We've got to do a great job of preparing and getting these guys ready to go in all three phases."
Facing the defending Super Bowl champions on the road is enough of a test for a team. But coming off a 39-35 home-field loss to Detroit in the season opener on Sunday, Indianapolis has its own issues to address before worrying about the Broncos.
Pagano, though, knows that protecting quarterback Andrew Luck will be the primary job for Indianapolis.
Denver's pass rush proved to be tough against Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Luck can expect similar pressure from the Broncos.
"They've got a great front seven. We know that they can put a tremendous amount of pressure on the quarterback. They've got speed, they've got athleticism. They're very, very deep," Pagano said.
"Excellent on the outside at the two corner spots, at the nickel spot. Two safeties that are as good as it is in this league. They fly around and they're physical. They do a great job. (Defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips) does a great job. They got hurt you in a lot of different ways."
Still, as good as Denver has been over the past several seasons, the Colts have been able to win three of the last four meetings, including the playoffs. Indianapolis posted a 27-24 victory over the Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2015.
"It was a solid performance, one where we came out with a lot of energy and played well. Jumped out on top of them. We got off to a great start. We were able to play great football in all three phases. It was a heck of a football game," Pagano said.
"The guys scored points down the stretch. And we're going to have to do the same thing (on Sunday)."
-- In the week leading up to the Detroit season opener, Luck's name appeared on the daily injury report. He was listed as being limited in practice with a right shoulder issue. Luck, however, started and played well against the Lions.
While the quarterback says that he is fine, chances are good that Luck's name will continue to pop up on the daily injury report with the same issue.
"Do I feel a need to be physically managed? There's a plan that has been in place for a long time and it may not be perceptible to the casual observer, but I think it's a great plan," he said. "If I need to be on the injury report because that's what the rules say, then hey, I'm on the injury report, so what?"