Yesterday's OTA was one that was attended by various media members, and as such, now seems as good of a time as any to go over some interesting points that have come out of the early workouts.
First, there are some interesting quotes coming out of the Colts' camp regarding the running backs in 2012. First, we hear this from Jim Irsay:
ColtsFans,I like Brown,Carter n Ballard at RB 4 us this year,that's Vick,not Greg;Mayor Ballard is great leader but at TailBack,not so much— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) June 5, 2012
T Should,toolman94..D Brown 4.48,he can bounce it n get to the edge;Evans is in mix,Coach Chuck/OC Bruce A will probably do RB by committee— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) June 6, 2012
Also, after OTAs yesterday, Coach Pagano had some interesting things to say about the running back situation.
When asked about the running back lineup, Pagano said that Brown has been taking the lion's share of the first team reps, with Darren Evans and Vick Ballard taking reps as well (he mentioned a "pitch count"), while noting that Carter has been out recovering from surgery. Pagano put an emphasis on keeping guys fresh, switching guys in and out, mentioning third downs. When asked if Brown was a third down back, Pagano said no, Brown is an every down back, saying that Brown has been great, and has had a "tremendous offseason." He also mentioned Brown's ability to see protections, especially on third down, something that Brown was surprisingly adept at in 2011.
This seems to hint at what most of us have been assuming: Brown will be the feature back in 2012, with Carter and Ballard likely spelling him and being used situationally. In my opinion, this is the smartest way to go, until Ballard/Carter show that they can be more than that. We saw Brown play well with an expanded role in 2011, and have heard confidence expressed by the coaches so far this offseason. Now, it would seem silly to not use Carter and Ballard, draft picks in 2011 and 2012, but I would be shocked if Brown didn't receive the bulk of the carries.
In other news, it seems that the second cornerback position is still wide open. According to Coach Pagano, the situation will pan out "when pads go on" (per Phil Richards). For what it's worth, Kevin Thomas was taking first team snaps today, and had a good practice. It's been well documented that the Colts need another starting cornerback, and it's a question of whether or not the new coaching staff will be able to "coach up" any of the younger guys. If not, the Colts will be extremely weak in the secondary if they don't make a significant addition.
According to Winston Justice, this Colts team has a lot of chemistry, moreso than his team last year. Justice was a part of the Philadelphia Eagle's Dream Team squad in 2011, when they signed a plethora of high priced free agents in hopes of building a championship squad. Just another reminder that while free agency has it's uses, getting high priced free agents in the offseason is not the way to build a championship team.
Interestingly, the Colts ran a lot of three receiver sets with Wayne, Collie, and Avery, with Jeremy Ross (on Colts' practice squad last season) seeming to be the fourth receiver today. While reports last week were hinging on the Colts' coaches praises of Jordan Sambrano, it seems that Ross may have the inside track on snatching a roster spot. Draft picks TY Hilton (injury) and LaVon Brazill (school) have missed OTAs, allowing guys like Ross to gain ground on their possible roster spots. I don't see the Colts keeping more than five receivers on the active roster, so Sambrano or Ross would need to beat out Brazill to gain a spot (I can't see Hilton getting cut). Most likely scenario is a practice squad spot for one or two of the undrafted receivers.
On defense, Jerry Hughes filled in for Dwight Freeney, Terrence Johnson was the third corner (behind Powers and Thomas) and A.J. Edds filled in for Kavell Conner at inside linebacker. Hughes will be one of the most intriguing players to watch during the defensive transition, and may finally be able to be the elusive "third rusher" in a scheme that most scouts thought was the most natural fit.
Here is the list of players sitting out, mostly due to small injuries or recovering from offseason surgeries:
Anthony Castonzo, Ben Ijalana, TY Hilton, Justin Snow, Drake Nevis, David Caldwell, Dwight Freeney, Buddy Jackson, Coby Fleener, David Legree, and Delone Carter.
In roster moves, the Colts cut C Jake Kirkpatrick, a fan favorite last offseason who spent a lot of time on the practice squad. The Colts have yet to fill the open roster spot.
One of the great non-Manning related questions I would like to ask if I knew I could get a straight answer...
In 2010, after the defining game of that season against Jacksonville that basically got the Colts back in the playoffs and Donald Brown was brilliant... why he was never heard from again that year.
Still a mystery to me.
I really would not used that quote as praising, more like he is the only young guy here and he is doing good. Also I think Ross still has a year to be on the practice squad so it will be interesting to see what happens when Brazill gets here, and like I said in my projection I see Sambrano and Ross on the practice squad.
Johnson being the nickle right now seems interesting, I have always liked the guy, and him being physical should help him at that position, I hope he improves and makes the team, he showed a lot of deficiencies last year.
Glad to hear Evans is getting more acknowledgement than Karim though, hopefully he will contribute more this season, granted he makes the team.