On the whole, Friday was one of the most enjoyable days I have spent as a Colts fan. My trusty camp companion Kelly Hinojosa was back in full force, now toting a quality camera that was used to capture dozens of images we will be sharing with Coltzilla visitors very shortly.
You know you are hanging out with a true Colts football fan when you are presented with flash cards listing up-to-date names, numbers, and positions of every Colts player on the roster. By the time we arrived at Anderson University to watch the boys practice, I was a roster expert!One player that really stood out today was backup running back and kick return hopeful, Devin Moore. With such a packed roster at running back, and a slew of players who hope to make an impact in the return game, it would seem Moore has a deck stacked against him. What he has going for him, however, is a hard-nosed, don’t quit, give it 110% attitude. If we were to keep a fourth running back, there is little doubt in my mind — at this point — that Moore should be the guy.
Another player who seems to have pushed his way into a legitimate shot at a roster spot is John Chick. With Freeney sitting out of practice today, Chick lined up opposite Mathis in Freeney’s position along the right side of the defensive line. I have been impressed by him more than once during camp and do not think this is a simple fluke. Pre-season competition will tell us a lot more but he is a player to keep an eye on.
On the offensive line, I got the impression that Jaime Thomas and Tony Ugoh make a pretty good pair of run blockers. It is difficult to know who deserves specific credit, as the viewing angles from the bleachers do not come with replay, but the two really seemed to generate some push on runs off left end or off left tackle.
One thing that makes it difficult to judge the state of the offensive line is that the Colts so often will match up first team units against second team units. This begs the question, “is the offensive line looking good or is the second team defensive line outmatched?” There is probably not an easy answer and this is part of the reason why watching preseason games is necessary.
The player who made the biggest name for himself during much of the afternoon practice was Ramon Humber. I initially did not spot Humber, along with other Colts players, because the team had selected some players to wear green or red jerseys. My guess is that these members signify players on the 49ers squad. In this role, Humber stuffed more than one run play, moved all over the field, and gave offensive players fits at the line and in coverage.
The broad observation for the team’s work on Friday was that the Colts receivers are scary good. The entire unit went for very long stretches running numerous routes without dropping a pass. Even players who struggled throughout much of camp, like Brandon James, looked like a legitimate option at receiver much of the day.
Oh yeah, Tim Hiller also looked pretty good much of the day. I would not be surprised to see him have relative success in the preseason.
Finally, I have the impression that this defense will be noticeably better. Some may have concerns about the offensive line, which I happen to think are a bit overstated at this point, but no other position on this football team will be anything but better than a season ago.
We are deep and talented at every position other than minor concerns along the offensive line. Our linebackers look extremely strong. Our corners look at least one man deeper than a season ago as, from what I have seen, Deshea Townsend is an upgrade over Tim Jennings. Our safeties may be the best in the league. Our tight ends are stacked — with Brody Eldridge being my early pick for stunning rookie performer of the year for the Colts. Our receivers are sickening, and should be the envy of the league. We have more options at defensive tackle and defensive end than we know what to do with, and that is both against the pass and the run.
Be prepared to see a noticeably improved football team Colts Nation. Barring any offensive line doomsday scenarios or injury setbacks in player or team cohesion and development, the Colts will be right back in the mix to make a run in the playoffs.