After a full week under their belts in training camp, the Colts organization have given us some insight as to what they plan to accomplish, and just whom they will use to accomplish it with, this season.
Although there is still plenty of time for newcomers to step up and impress the coaches, I thought I’d give you all a Week One Training Camp Exam to see if you’ve been paying attention thus far. Don’t worry though…no math involved in this test, just a few True and False questions to quiz you and get you up to date on the Colts.
1) The Colts receiving core is better without the services of Marvin Harrison this year.
True. This is a tough one for all Colts fans to admit since Harrison has clearly been the best receiver on the Colts roster for the past decade and quite possibly in franchise history of the Colts. However, with Harrison’s nagging knee injuries the past couple of years, the team’s loyalty to Harrison has held back the potential the Colts WR core has to offer.
During the Pinnacle Week One Blue & White Game (team scrimmage), the Colts often lined up in pseudo four wideout formation with Wayne lined up on the far left, Gonzalez on the far right, Collie in the right slot, and Clark rotating in and out of a tight end position to a left slot position.
We haven’t seen a lot of four-wide formations from the Colts in the past but if the preseason is any indication of what the Colts want to do, the Colts might have Manning passing for 5,000 yards this season.
Wayne had his troubles hauling in passes as the defense played him very tight and hands on, but Gonzalez and Clark were looking fantastic. Collie grabbed a hold of a couple short passes and Wayne eventually showed his talent by reeling in a SportsCenter hands catch as he stretched out and latched on to the ball with his fingers tips, scoring a five yard TD pass from Manning.
There’s a little rust there, but the Colts will shake that off pretty quickly.
2) Manning actually enjoys Training Camp.
Very True. You ever see how happy a Golden Retriever is when you throw a ball for him to go get and bring it back? It’s like nothing in the world could be more pleasurable or fun. They’re bred with it and it simply exists in their DNA that they are here to perform that one task to the fullest.
I’m sure that no one likes being compared to a dog, but Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dogs in the world and Manning clearly has it in his DNA to enjoy every aspect of football as if it were the most exhilarating thing he could be doing in life, and that includes his time in training camp.
Manning often shows up hours before practice and spends at least an hour or two a day signing autographs of fans waiting at the railing hours before practice even begins. He understands that the fans are there to support him and the team and he is more than willing to spend extra time to converse with his fans.
But make no mistake that when Manning steps onto the field, he’s all business. Strapping on the pads in the Week One scrimmage, Manning wasted no time firing bullets to his receivers, calling formation changes at the line (audible), and driving the offense into the end zone.
Manning is focused, and while he too has a little rust to work out (passing behind and over the heads of receivers on several plays), he is certain to be ready for what could be a career year this season.
3) If Vinatieri can’t come back from hip and knee surgery, the Colts are toast.
False. Colts fans that have seen what Vinatieri brings to the team (basically the Lombardi Trophy), and are rightfully worried about their clutch kicker not being available due to injury.
After all, the Colts had never advanced to the Super Bowl without Vinatieri, despite having the most accurate kicker in NFL history on their team for the previous few years before Vinatieri.
While I’m not ready to crown Colts rookie kicker Shane Andrus the next, “Clutch” kicker or the next, “Most Accurate” kicker, I am ready to concede that he can hold down the fort for several weeks heading up to the playoffs while Vinatieri takes his time and lets his body heal correctly.
Shane Andrus has shown in training camp just why the Colts went out and drafted him. He’s been draining kicks all week and drained another for 50 yards, straight down the middle, in the scrimmage game (it could have easily cleared 55 yards).
It is yet to be seen how Andrus will react under the pressure of having 11 guys rushing at him in a critical game winning/losing situation, but he certainly seems to have the talent level to succeed.
4) Curtis Painter is ready to be the primary backup QB.
False. If you said true on this one, I’d probably go ahead and give you credit. Jim Sorgi has backed up Manning the past few years and has the playbook and his passing progressions, but he seems to lack the talent level needed to fill in for Manning should he need to for a substantial amount of time.
Painter was drafted to compete for the backup role but was more likely expected to be the third option this year with a chance of taking the secondary option from Sorgi next season.
However, it has been reported that Sorgi recently strained his throwing (right) shoulder and is expected to miss the next two or three weeks of practice due to the injury.
Painter took advantage of this in the team scrimmage game when he took over the duties of the second team offense competing against the second team defense. Painter had receivers Taj Smith and Peirre Garcon spread at wideouts, with Roy Hall in the slot position.
Painter completed most of his passes to Taj Smith and took his team into the end zone just before the end of the game.
Painter looked great for a rookie quarterback already thrown into the second team offense. He looked comfortable and was throwing the ball very accurately.
This will be one position battle to definitely watch the remainder of the preseason, but look for Sorgi to retain the primary backup quarterback role…For this season anyway.
5) Donald Brown is ready to take over the primary running back position.
False. Ahhhh...so that is the question right? Colts not impressed with Addai last year, and with his ability to overcome injuries…so the Colts go out and draft a stud rookie running back in the first round and soon after replace their current star running back a la Faulk, James, and Rhodes right?
This may be the intent of general manager Bill Polian, but Brown isn’t ready just yet. He might be by the end of the season and beginning of next, but he is certainly not there right now.
While Brown is expected to take his share of carries this season, Addai has been taking most of the snaps with the first team and Brown didn’t even take the field of play during the team’s week one scrimmage.
Brown has to first master the playbook, all of Manning’s fake audibles, pick up blocking, work on his catching, and then try to stop thinking about the game and just run the ball. That’s a ton of weight for a rookie to carry and I would only expect to see Brown in a primary running back role if Addai goes down with an injury.
6) The defense will be the dominant side of the ball for the Colts this year.
True. This seems like crazy talk and I’m sure I’ll take my share of bashing for this opinion, but it has been the Colts defense that has won close games for the Colts in the past few years. The offense has always been phenomenal, but the defense (if they can get their key players on the field and keep them on the field) is ready to dominate.
The team drafted rookie defensive tackles (Moala, Grady, & Taylor) that are there to run-stop and let their defensive ends (Freeney & Mathis) rush the QB. New coach Larry Coyer brings more blitz packages to the defensive backs Bethea, Hayden, and Sanders are ready to feast on the ball whenever it is in the air.
In the week one scrimmage game, the defense definitely looked like the dominant side of the ball. The defense played Wayne very tight with forcing an interception, while the line consistently stopped the running game from big gains.
The D-Line also got their hands up causing a tip ball that was nearly picked off, and would have been picked off if it hadn’t been for WR Gonzalez knocking the ball out of their hands and onto the ground.
The defense dominated the starting offense of the Colts and that’s a great sign considering the Colts look to be one of the best offenses in the NFL this year.
Get Sanders and Mathis back into the lineup and this unit is ready to cause havoc. I’d put them on my fantasy team any day.
Okay now…bonus question.
Give me your thought and comments. No pressure. You tell me what you think and we’ll forget about all of your wrong answers above.
Give me comments on your thoughts and you will pass.
Its football season again…no one should be taking meaningful exams right now should they???