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Colts prepare for time without Irsay

– Carlie Irsay-Gordon spent the early part of Colts practice chatting with general manager Ryan Grigson, taking notes and re-acclimating herself to a task she now knows well: Filling in for her father.

The Colts went back to work Wednesday and team owner Jim Irsay started his six-week suspension, just four days before the season opener against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. For Irsay-Gordon, this is starting to get routine. She spent two months helping run the team after her father sought treatment following a March traffic stop in which police found various prescription drugs and more than $29,000 in cash.

Irsay pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated and within hours was punished by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Besides the suspension, he was fined $500,000 and barred from being anywhere near his beloved team until after Indy’s game against Houston on Oct. 9.

The Colts, of course, insist it will be business as usual. But there will be no sign of their neatly dressed owner on the sideline, no inspiring comments on Twitter and no post-game speeches. And nobody understands better than coach Chuck Pagano how difficult it will be for Irsay to stay away from his team.

“Do I have a sense? Twelve weeks’ worth. So I got a real good sense,” Pagano said, referring to the time he missed in 2012 as he battled leukemia. “You pull anybody away from this game that has the passion and drive and love for this sport that we’re so privileged to play and coach, you feel helpless. Believe me, you feel helpless.”

Though Irsay was not seen on the field during the portion of practice open to reporters, Pagano relayed a message from the team owner, a close personal friend, to his players: It’s time to focus on football, starting with Sunday night’s game at Denver.

Goodell’s suspension bars Irsay from visiting the team complex, attending practices or games, representing the Colts at league or committee meetings and conducting interviews or using social media to address football-related issues. Carlie Irsay-Gordon represented the team at the owners’ meetings in March.

What is unclear is whether Irsay might still influence team decisions.

The NFL’s release announcing the punishment does not specifically address conversations Irsay has with family members, and even if it did, it would seem almost impossible to police. League spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email Wednesday that the league had already specified terms of the suspension and would not comment any further on the matter.

Grigson was not available to reporters but said Tuesday on a local radio show he expected no significant changes in team operations.

“Business as usual,” Pagano said when asked Wednesday.

Irsay has been grooming his three daughters – Carlie, Kalen and Casey Foyt – to run the team when he gives up the day-to-day operations. But this summer in an interview with The Associated Press, Irsay said he had no plans to give up control any time soon even after a challenging offseason.

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