When the Indianapolis Colts offense lines up for the 2005 season, defenses will face familiar faces who are capable of burning up the scoreboard. Only two spots really came into question during the offseason -- the two offensive guard positions.
Jake Scott finished the 2004 season by unseating incumbent Tupe Peko, who is now with the Carolina Panthers. He's working at the right guard slot with the first string at the Colts' minicamp.
On the opposite side of center Jeff Saturday is Ryan Lilja, who was cast off by the Kansas City Chiefs last year and quickly snatched up by the Colts. As the season progressed, Lilja got the opportunity to start in six games prior to being placed on the inactive list during the playoffs. With Rick DeMulling now in Detroit, the left guard position is Lilja's to lose heading into training camp.
"This is what you shoot for, what you strive for, all of your life playing football," Lilja said. "You want to start for an NFL team, and who better to do it with than the best offense in the league?"
Former Colt's Future in Question
Defensive tackle Larry Chester was forced to have surgery during the offseason to clean out debris from a knee. That usually wouldn't be a big deal, but Chester has already had reconstructive surgery on that knee. The former Colts lineman ('98-'00) is optimistic that the surgery will improve his overall condition, and the Dolphins remain cautiously optimistic as well They just recently payed him a large bonus for keeping his offseason weight within a target range.
Dungy takes diplomatic stance on Vanderjagt
Colts kicker Mike Vandergjagt claims that head coach Tony Dungy told him that the kickoff job will be an open competition against draft pick Dave Rayner out of Michigan State.
Vanderjagt was pleased to hear that as it stood in stark contrast to an offseason comment by Colts president Bill Polian at the end of April when he told the Indianpolis Star, "We're going to carry a kickoff man, there will be no conversation about that...That's the way it's going to be."
And although Vanderjagt may have taken Dungy's reply as a more open-minded perspective, it's likely that Dungy was simply being diplomatic, replying to Vanderjagt's question with an answer that simply makes sense, even if it's unlikely. Over the past few seasons, Vanderjagt has wanted the dual role, but hasn't proven he can handle it capably and consistently.
"I've always said my preference would be one kicker would do it because you could save a roster spot," Dungy said. "But we're going to get the best kickoff guy and the best field goal guy."
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