IRVING, Texas – When a player such as DeMarco Murray is questionable to play in an upcoming game, most opposing coaches convince themselves the star player will indeed play.
It's always easier to prepare for that and have the backup play, then believe the reports that a star might miss the game and then it changes at the last minute.
So Colts head coach Chuck Pagano minced no words when asked if he prepared for Murray, stating "yes" followed by nothing else.
But, he also said this offense is more than just Murray, who is leading the NFL in rushing with 1,687 yards.
When asked about Dez Bryant, Pagano had nothing but the highest praise for the Cowboys' star receiver who has 13 touchdown catches.
"He's a nightmare. He's one of the most competitive guys that we've seen," Pagano said of Bryant. "He's a great talent. He's a great player. He's a combination of size, athleticism and speed. But his competitive nature and his drive and his passion for the game and for his team and for winning is second to none. The guy's a monster."
He also had a name for the guy throwing him the ball.
"He's still got that Houdini in him where he can get out of harm's way and still extend plays and find guys down the field," Pagano said of quarterback Tony Romo. "Tony's playing great football. For 12 years in, his numbers are fabulous. He's managing the game extremely well. He's doing a great job and he plays hurt. He plays tough. He plays strong. Tremendous amount of respect for Tony and what he's been able to accomplish through the course of his long, long career. He's playing as good as he's played. He's playing really well, and we've got our hands full."
Not only does he have respect for Bryant and Romo individually, but the combination of the two is dangerous.
"Obviously (Dez) and Tony are on the same page, much like Tony and Jason (Witten) are and have been on the same page for years and years," Pagano said. "It's a heck of a challenge to Vontae (Davis) and Greg (Toler) and our entire secondary. It's going to take all hands on deck to just try to contain (Dez) and make sure that he doesn't wreck the game."
The last time the Cowboys faced the Colts in 2010, Romo was out with a collarbone injury and Bryant played until the fourth quarter before suffering a broken leg that ended the rest of his season.