The most significant event of training camp happened off the field on Tuesday when Jeff Saturday had his knee scoped.
Saturday's clandestine surgery has the potential to have real ramifications for the Colts' season. As poorly as the offensive line played last season, Saturday was the lone bright spot, garnering his fourth Pro Bowl selection.
I have been told by a source that Saturday "said he would be out about four weeks and hoped to be back in time for Houston". The source could not be sure, obviously, but expected him to be ready to start the season.
18to88 reader Dr. Ben said, "The 'loose body' is most likely a piece of cartilage torn from the meniscus. Pretty inconsequential, really. As far as surgeries/rehab/lost time go...far more desirable than most."
We know what a fast healer Saturday is, and his efforts to come back from a serious knee injury at the start of the 2008 season are legendary (by the way, that's one of my all time favorite posts).
The truth is that this is what the Colts bargained for when the resigned Saturday after the 2008 season. When you pay big money to a center in his 30s with bad knees, you have to expect that he's going to miss some games along the way. This is not a criticism of the decision to resign Saturday. Not at all. Without him, the Colts never make the Super Bowl last season, so that in and of itself validates the move. It's similar to the decision to pay Gary Brackett. You hope the season after he signs he plays 16 games, but each season that passes raises the likelihood that you'll be working around an injury. That's just life in the NFL.
The Colts' line is going to have to scramble all preseason to make up for the absence of their leader. Of course the result will probably be some eye bleeding offense (Yippee! Preseason football! Catch the fever!). Granted the Colts have enough ex-centers around to choke a camel, but none of them are Saturday. In Saturday's case, where we really miss him when he's out is in his ability to make sure the line has all the right calls and is prepared to pick up the blitzers. He's limited against huge NTs in the middle, but we open with a pair of 4-3 teams, so that shouldn't be a worry.
I wouldn't call it panic time in Indy, mostly because this was a foreseeable circumstance that shouldn't shock anyone. Moreover, I'm no longer convinced that an elite offensive line is necessary to a championship season. The '08 Steelers had a horrible line, as did the '09 Colts, and both went to the Super Bowl. As the run game becomes deephasized, the old rules about how to build a team no longer apply. If you have a quarterback that can't be sacked either because he's an inhuman beast (Roethlisberger) or has the fastest gun in the west (Manning), you can get away without A+ pass protection.
That being said however, I'll sleep easier at night when I know that 63 is healthy and ready to go.