The Colts are heading into this year’s training camp with a different look. With the departure of Marvin Harrison and the surprising selection of running back Donald Brown in the first-round, there are some unanswered questions heading into the 2009 season.
Who will be the Colts' next Marvin Harrison? Will Donald Brown surpass Joseph Addai as Colts' main running back? Will Curtis Painter push Jim Sorgi as Peyton Manning's backup?
Here is a breakdown of possible position battles heading into training camp, and the possible outcomes:
Addai underachieved last year, having his worst season as a Colt to date. Joseph rushed for 544 yards, reaching the end zone five times and only averaged 3.5 yards per carry, all career lows.
Addai missed four games last year due to an injured hamstring, and recently had arthroscopic surgery. Joseph hasn't played a full season with the Colts since being drafted in 2006.
Addai has been a very important part of the Colts' offense, rushing for over 1,000 yards in his first two seasons, and reaching the pro bowl in 2007. Addai hasn't been able to stay healthy, and his production has since declined.
If his injury problems continue to hamper him in 2009, and he doesn't return to his productive ways, his job could very well be in jeopardy.
Bill Polian selected Donald Brown with the Colts' first pick in 2008, taking the UConn running back with the 27th overall selection. The pick was a surprise to many around the football world.
Addai was the Colts' main running back, and although he had an injury plagued season, many thought he was still the Colts' featured back. Well, that all changed on draft day.
With Addai's production decreasing, the Colts needed another option to lead the running game, which ranked 31st in the league, averaging 79.6 yards per game last season. Brown is explosive, capable of making big plays, and is a proven workhorse.
Look for Addai to keep his starting job for now. He needs to stay injury free and get back to his productive ways. Brown will get his share of carries as well, and if he outplays Addai early on, he could be the Colts starter sooner than later.
WR3: Pierre Garcon/Austin Collie/Roy Hall
Pierre Garcon is heading into his second season with the Colts, drafted in the sixth round in 2008 out of Mount Union. Garcon mostly played on special teams last year. He will be given the chance to be the Colts' third wide receiver this season. Pierre has great size for a receiver, is fast, and uses his strength to his advantage.
Austin Collie was selected in the fourth round in this year's draft. With 127th overall selection, the Colts drafted a quick, intelligent receiver who has the ability to find holes and seams in coverages. Collie, a wide receiver from Bringham Young University, fits the Colts' style of play and will have an opportunity to be a key part of the Colts' offense.
The Colts had high hopes for Roy Hall, a fifth round pick in 2007. So far, the Ohio State product has been unable to meet the team's expectations. He has battled several injuries throughout his short career and is also coming off arthroscopic surgery. Hall also had problems staying on the field in his rookie campaign due to a separated shoulder.
Garcon has to be the favorite here. He has a slight advantage over Collie because he was in the system last year. Roy Hall has been too injury prone early in his career and that's hurt his value, while Garcon will get a chance to catch 45-60 balls.
QB: Jim Sorgi/Curtis Painter
In this year's NFL draft, the Colts selected a quarterback—their first time since 2004—back when they selected Jim Sorgi in the sixth round, 193rd overall. Sorgi has been Peyton Manning's backup ever since, and getting limited action. Peyton has been as durable as any quarterback in recent years. In fact, in his 10-year career, he has never missed a game.
Curtis Painter was selected eight spots lower than Sorgi, with Colts selecting the Purdue Boilermaker in the sixth round, 201st overall in this year's draft. Painter didn't help his stock much his senior year, despite his stellar junior campaign. He struggled for the Boilermakers in his final year, but still finished as the best quarterback in school history.
Having spent the last four years in the Colts' system, Sorgi will remain as Manning's backup for now. Painter has good size and possesses decent arm strength. Look for him to eventually step into a larger role in the future.
Who will be the Colts' next Marvin Harrison?
With Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez as the team's main wide receiver, the Colts are looking for someone to fill the void left by Marvin Harrison. The Colts' all-time leading wide receiver was released in February after the future Hall of Famer was not willing to restructure his contract.
Harrison caught only 60 catches for 664 yards in 2008 and is set to turn 37 this month.
The Colts are relatively weaker at the WR position than previous years, as Harrison's departure is a big loss.
"I was thinking, 'man, this NFL is pretty easy. All you do is throw the ball to Marvin Harrison and he catches touchdowns,"' Manning said.
Manning and Harrison were considered one of the NFL's best QB/WR combos. Manning will miss Harrison catching touchdowns for the Colts, but it will give the opportunity to someone else to step up.
Former first-round pick Anthony Gonzalez is the leading candidate to fill that void. The third year player out of Ohio State had a decent year in 2008. Gonzalez had 56 receptions for 576 yards and four touchdowns. All while being the team's No. 4 option behind Wayne, Harrison, and Clark.
He will be given an opportunity to put up career numbers and take over for Harrison at the flanker position. He has great hands, is very quick off the line, and runs his routes effectively. Gonzalez is ready to be a big part of the Colts' offense for years to come.
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