Nothing like a one-inch nail in the front left tire to alter plans for today’s blog. Instead of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the thoughts of the day are brought to you by my newest and best friends at a Westside Discount Tire. That is, their my buddies until I get the bill.
* You can count on outside linebacker Freddy Keiaho bringing more toughness to the position than Cato June. Not knocking June, a speed guy who could cover but sometimes got shoved aside on run plays, but I like Keiaho’s physicality. Then again, if he can’t cover, we’ll be griping about how the Colts need a linebacker on pass defense. But there’s something about this guy, his hard-nosed and humble nature. Not too many football players from Fiji. The hunch is he could be something special. It’s way to early to be sure, so we call it a hunch.
“So far, he is adjusting well and relaxing,” said Colts coach Tony Dungy. “That’s the big thing he’s going to have to do. He’s another guy who plays with energy and plays fast. The biggest thing for him is to slow down and be patient and let the game come to him.”
* Along those same lines, I love the low-key temperament of running back Joseph Addai. It’s like the Colts have their share of Lincoln Navigators (judging from the parking lot, the players’ vehicle of choice), then there are the pickup trucks. Addai fits that image, just like Keiaho, Bob Sanders, Antoine Bethea, Gary Brackett, Rob Morris and the entire offensive line.
“Every time they give me the ball, I will be happy with that,” Addai said. “It’s really for the team, whatever they want to do, that’s what I’m going to roll with.”
Sounds like typical coach speak, but that’s Addai. I remember a couple games last year when I asked him if he knew how many rushing yards he had. He didn’t. When TV and radio sports talk folks break down the Colts, they need to realize it takes all kinds to blend together. The biggest stars have strong personalities. And take it from me, strong personalities can be difficult to deal with at times. But that depends upon the nature of the other guy. The Colts have more than enough “other guys” to go with the stars.
* Those wanting some more info on running back DeDe Dorsey, he impressed Addai from the beginning of training camp … last year.
“DeDe’s a mastermind,” Addai said. “He picked up the offense fast last year even though he wasn’t playing. He understood what was going on, asking a lot of questions, and that’s the same thing I did when I came in.”
Addai, like Dungy, expects the smaller, quicker Dorsey to deliver a dynamic change of pace when spelling the starter. Not saying Dorsey has nailed that job down yet, he still has to prove himself in the preseason games, but he appears to have a leg up on the others.
* I’ll pass this along once then let it go, but recently retired left tackle Tarik Glenn is missed. Rookie Tony Ugoh can be the greatest left tackle to ever play the game, but the Glenn sentiment is not a knock on him. Glenn was this gentle giant and such a fixture. Big guy, but always approachable. Always soft spoken. When I told center Jeff Saturday I missed seeing “T” out there, he said, “Tell me about it.” Added Peyton Manning, “We will definitely miss Tarik. He is my friend, he is all of our friends.”
* One more perspective quote, in case anyone makes the mistake
thinking the Colts are living in the past. I’ve been impressed with how hard the Colts have worked. They don’t look like a bunch of guys with rings. They look hungry again. Manning has said nobody had better break out those rings, either. It’s a new season. When a reporter tried to get cute, asking Manning what was more fun, doing Saturday Night Live, visiting the President at the White House or training camp, the two-time MVP didn’t hesitate to set the record straight. “The offseason is over with and we are glad to be back,” he said. The Saints season opener will be here before we know it. So, we are here to get ready for that and looking forward to working hard. We have some new players here, that, it’s always a little different when you put the shoulder pads on and you go full speed. We are looking forward to getting some good evaluations of our young players.” Notice he didn’t mention anything about SNL or the White House.
Turns out, tire was under warranty, so I got a new one. Just $28. And all finished in the time it took to write the blog. Life could be worse.
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July 31, 2007 Camp quickies
Opinions subject to change, here's what has made its way onto my reporter notebook in a day and a half of camp in Terre Haute, Ind.
* CoreyGate and the case of the missing Pitcock are unresolved. Nothing new. No Corey Simon. No rookie Quinn Pitcock. We're told neither has passed a physical. Pitcock is signed, but that contract is contingent on passing the physical. Haven't seen either guy. What would life be like without the unexpected?
* Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden look ready to step in as starting corners. It's early yet, but both have looked decent.
* First day of camp had predictable results for rookies, who learn immediately this isn't college anymore.
-- Exhibit A: I enjoy watching the towel drill, where an offensive lineman tries to defend a towel on the ground against a pass rusher. Colts all-time leading sack machine Dwight Freeney introduced second-round rookie left tackle Tony Ugoh to the speed of the NFL. Don't feel bad, Tony. Freeney does that to guys who have been around a while. I remember watching Freeney as a rookie. He beat Tarik Glenn on back-to-back speed rushes. Anyway, Freeney did the same to Ugoh, who one time just grabbed the back of No. 93's jersey. Then came Freeney's spin move inside. Ugoh was reaching out at nothing but air. No cause for panic. This is how new guys learn.
-- Exhibit B: Same with third-round corner Dante Hughes. Even when he had decent coverage on Marvin Harrison, No. 88 inspired oohs and aahs from fans with the catch. If there's an exception to this steep learning curve, it may be first-round pick Anthony Gonzalez. He runs such precise routes, has great hands. He was getting the best of defenders, including Hughes, in one-on-one drills.
* More on Ugoh. I can see why the Colts liked him. Great size and width. Just a matter of how quickly he can move his feet.
* DeDe Dorsey is fast and I could see how his size - he looks smaller than 5-11 - would make him hard to catch. Too early to say he's the guy to lighten Joseph Addai's carry load, but the kid has got some burst.
* Overheard a photographer from a national publication talking about the precision and organization to detail of Colts camp practices. Nothing like his previous NFL stops, he said.
* Next time someone mentions death and taxes, add Harrison to the sentence about life certainties. First day of camp and he's showing why he's one of the greatest to play the position.
* ESPN made light of Peyton Manning changing roommates now that Brandon Stokley is gone. His new roomie, Dallas Clark, is one of the more affable guys on the team. Manning made it a point to single out Clark for how the tight end came back last year from a knee injury - he was that close to going on IR, I'm told. "There is no doubt in my mind, if he doesn't get himself healthy, take it upon himself to not have surgery on his potentially season-ending knee injury, rehab, get back for the game against Miami where he gets the four-week rust off, and get back for the playoffs, I don't think we win the championship," Manning said.
* Have yet to assess the kid's ability, but say this for fourth-round rookie Brannon Condren, the safety from Troy: The kid has got Bob Sanders-like guns. Big arms. And he's humble. Condren set a camp record for saying "Yes, sir" in our first interview. I obviously promoted Antoine Bethea last camp and Bethea had a solid rookie year, so don't take this the wrong way. I'm not lobbying for a new starter. For as much as these guys savagely throw their bodies into people, you can't have enough depth at safety. But I won't be surprised if Condren blows up some guys in preseason games.
Blog ya later.