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For Indy starters, rest assured; but are surprises in store?


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Heard the news about Indianapolis backup quarterbacks Drew Stanton and Chandler Harnish?

Chances are you’re going to see plenty of them Sunday afternoon when the Colts host the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Heard the latest regarding running backs Delone Carter, Mewelde Moore and Deji Karim? And safeties Joe Lefeged and Sergio Brown, linebacker Mario Harvey and countless others? See the above paragraph.

This is how incredibly absurd the 2012 season has been for this playoff-bound franchise. Just when its head coach finally makes it back to the sideline after tortuous bouts of chemotherapy designed to throw haymakers at his leukemia, most of the familiar faces he couldn’t wait to coach again will be standing near him.

Andrew? Here.

Reggie? Here.

Dwight and Robert? (In unison) Here.

Indianapolis is locked into the AFC’s No. 5 playoff slot no matter what transpires against the Texans. It’s a time for the majority of starters, men who have worn their hearts on their jersey sleeves for 15 unforgettable games, to finally exhale and heel those bumps, bruises and twists.

Houston, on the other hand, can secure home-field advantage throughout with a victory, which means a steady diet of Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, J.J. Watt until victory is assured.

If the Texans make it that far.

Given the avalanche of raw emotion to be directed at Colts coach Chuck Pagano by some 64,000 onlookers, don’t be shocked if Indianapolis hangs with Houston despite examining the depths of the old two- and three-deep. Or beats the Texans straight-up.

It’s been that kind of season. One in which the revolving door known as the team’s injured reserve list has practically sprung loose from its hinges from excessive use. One in which general manager Ryan Grigson’s strategic plucking of able bodies from the waiver wire should earn him the NFL’s Executive of the Year plaque.

The blue horseshoe doesn’t discriminate. Rookies, future Hall of Famers, journeymen and a few players most of us haven’t heard of have performed admirably — some would say overachieved — while wearing it in 2012.

Really, there’s only one sight left to witness: Indianapolis beats Houston on Sunday, awarding the AFC’s No. 1 playoff position to the Denver Broncos (who host woeful Kansas City) and that Manning guy.

As multicolored confetti falls from the Lucas Oil Stadium rafters, Colts players lift Pagano onto their shoulders and carry him off the field. Players are crying. Fans, too.

It’s 2012. The year of Chuckstrong. Anything is possible.

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