5 Encouraging Signs Heading into Indianapolis Colts' 2012 Season
After the nightmare that was the 2011 season, Indianapolis Colts fans have plenty to be encouraged by heading into 2012.
With all the turnover in the organization, it won't be the most recognizable team in the league next season. However, it may be one of the most improved organizations.
Not every team got to draft Andrew Luck.
With OTAs and minicamps wrapped up, NFL fans and the media have a couple more pieces of the puzzle to salivate over.
Or, in the case of Colts fans, be slightly intrigued by.
A few of us might even be hopeful.
Andrew Luck Has Graduated
Andrew Luck is a full-time Colt now.
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Colts fans had better hope that Andrew Luck's Stanford education translates into strong work ethic and a quick study.
He's already way behind.
Sure, he had the playbook and was at minicamp with the rest of the rookies, but that's not a replacement for OTAs. He missed the entirety of the activities due to graduation commitments in Palo Alto—a process that culminated last weekend in what he called a "symbolic closure to that chapter of my life."
In any case, knowing Luck is going to be under center next season is a huge reason for optimism, ceteris paribus.
The Team Is Looking to Make Roster Moves
Maybe the Colts didn't get Mike Jenkins, but at least they tried.
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The Colts of the last 10 years have lived by a single philosophy: build through the draft. They showed no interest trading and very little in free agency.
Those days appear to be gone.
While it was hardly a blockbuster, the trade that landed Cassius Vaughn in exchange for Chris Gronkowski was such a breath of fresh air as a Colts fan. Just to see them make a trade for another team's player—what a concept!
And that feeling only intensified when I heard the Colts were targeting the Dallas Cowboys' Mike Jenkins. Not only does he fill a position of need at corner, but he's a name we've heard before.
We almost got a significant player in a trade.
There's sure to be more moves in the future, so keep your eyes peeled.
Jim Irsay Has Gone into Publicity-Stunt Remission
So long, media pundits.
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When Manning's roster-bonus date was approaching, Irsay made a variety of inflammatory statements, largely to compete with Manning's media blitz.
When the Colts worked out Andrew Luck before the draft, he basically confirmed what we already knew about their plans for the No. 1 pick.
But where's he been since then?
The fact that I know he's still tweeting a hundred times a day, yet I haven't heard about it from any sports media outlet helps me sleep easier at night.
The Offense Looks Good Early
Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen are bonding.
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While the Stanford crew—Luck, Coby Fleener and Griff Whalen—have been off fraternizing in California, the rest of the team was busy meshing in Indy.
And they've looked good.
Reports coming out of camp say that veteran receivers Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie have been particularly impressive.
More interestingly, however, was that those same reports also noted rookie tight end Dwayne Allen has impressed thus far.
At least one of our draft picks appears to be taking his new career seriously.
Don't worry Colts fans, I'm just kidding.
It Can't Be Any Worse Than Last Year
That's about right.
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Between having to see the cameras cut to Peyton Manning on the sidelines 15 times per game and having to watch Curtis Painter attempt to learn how to throw a football, last season was the pits.
During the first part of the season, the Colts were competitive, losing multiple games by eight or less points, including a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers that we really had in the bag (until we didn't).
Those close games were only setting us up for heartbreak, though.
Time after time the Colts came up short in the end, until finally they weren't even competing anymore.
They were just their because they had to be.
In Week 7, the Colts traveled to New Orleans, where they got flat-out embarrassed to the tune of 62-7. It was a nationally televised game in prime time, no less.
That was rock bottom.
It would be a safe bet that they don't give up 62 in a single game in 2012.
Unless it's in Week 5 to the Green Bay Packers...