Observations

Plan B appears to be in effect. The Colts re-signed Rob Morris and pigs aren't flying and hell, in all likelihood, has not frozen over. Of course everything you'll hear from West 56th is that Gary Brackett is the starting middle linebacker and that Morris is being brought in for depth. Forget that, it's an open competition. It makes little sense for a former starter to backup his former backup. Jer no like, bad juju.


Here's how I see it: the Colts were paying lip service to steadfast company man and all-around good guy Brackett while secretly expecting that the far more talented Kendyll Pope would take the job. But the oft-injured Pope has had hammy problems again and his mastery of the mental aspects of his new position hasn't exactly been spectacular. So now it's a three-way battle. At this point, my money's on Morris; but if he doesn't win the job -- should Brackett prove me wrong or the light go on in Pope's head -- don't expect Morris to hang around on the bench.

With a signing bonus more the size of an economy car than a lakefront mansion, he's a cap-friendly cut. He'll win the job or he'll be cut. And is that such a bad thing? Of the Colts' linebackers last year, Morris did the best job against the run and in a two-down scenario, could be effective. He certainly inspires more confidence in me that the man from Rutgers does. It would appear whoever wins the job will have to fight off prospect Tyjuan Hagler next season or even later this season...

...On the subject of linebackers, it's interesting that David Thornton is still hampered. Although he's obviously still a big part of the Colts' plans, it's good to see guys like Gilbert Gardner and Thomas Houchin get a few reps. I'm still anxious to see what this Houchin kid can do. I watched a bunch of tape of him at K-State and was awed by his change of direction skills. If he makes all the reads, he could be a serious competitor...

...Injuries notwithstanding, I see the starting defensive backfield for Game 1 as Donald Strickland, Marlin Jackson, Bob Sanders and Joseph Jefferson. I also see Jason David in the nickel role, Kelvin Hayden granted a free pass and a massive dogfight between Von Hutchins, Jermaine Mays and Willie Ford for the final cornerback spot. I guess that leaves injured and arrested Nicholas Harper as the odd man out. Opposing quarterbacks will pick on Jackson and he will give up some big plays, but he will also hammer wide receivers so severely that they'll round off their routes and hesitate...

...Don't be too shocked if Jefferson plays well enough at free safety to win the job outright and keep Doss on the bench after his suspension is over — at least until Jefferson suffers his annual season-ending injury...

...If you want to understand Tony Dungy's philosophy on defensive linemen, look at guys like Robert Mathis and Jonathan Welsh. Yes they can be handled by a single blocker but they also take their blocker out of the game. And since most quarterbacks are about as useful as kickers after they throw the ball or hand it off, the defense basically outnumbers the offense, making one-on-one battles an advantage for the defenders. And, if you don't block a guy with a 4.43 forty and an awesome first step, you're in for big trouble...

...The return of Josh Thomas will be a huge boost for the Colts defense. He's the best player on the entire team at sealing and containing the outside run...

...Is it really a surprise Dylan Gandy leapfrogged Ryan Lilja for the starting left guard spot? I don't think Lilja is a bad player and he played pretty well down the stretch when tons of injuries hit the line, but Gandy is closer to the real deal. Although Gandy doesn't have Lilja's ability to block downfield (few do), he's way more explosive off the snap and uses his hands better. Lilja, whose biggest asset is his athleticism, makes much better sense as a swing reserve at all three interior positions...

...Of all the linemen on the roster, you know who I think had better be careful? Makoa Freitas. Yeah, we all saw him keep Peyton Manning's backside relatively safe in 2003 (1.5 sacks allowed in six starts, through lots of chipping help), but when injuries made the Colts desperate for competent linemen, they looked everywhere but Freitas' direction. Look at the tape, Trevor Hutton got in on way more snaps than he did. Keep your eyes on the fight Freitas will have with Joaquin Gonzalez for the third tackle spot...

...Adam Caplan says he likes Aaron Moorehead. So do I, but in two years in the Colts' flying circus he's touched the ball just 9 times. I think a fourth wideout in an attack that employs three about 62 percent of time should have more on his resume than that. He's far from safe...

...Most fans are saying the Colts should keep three tight ends. I think that's wrong, they need four at least. So, if you pencil in Dallas Clark, Ben Hartsock, Bryan Fletcher and Ben Utecht, where does that leave 6'9, surprisingly athletic Joey Hawkins? Well, football experts, we all have to lighten up a bit. Only Hartsock is a real, live tight end. Clark plays as often as not as a fullback or a motion H-back. Fletcher and Utecht are really just big wide receivers, especially when you watch them block. So why not throw Hawkins into that amorphous position? If he's tough enough and can handle it mentally, why not make Hawkins (or even Utecht), a sort-of combination tight end/H-back/wideout who lines up tight, in the slot, in the backfield or wide? Games are won on mismatches...

...It's too bad the powers that be with the Sea Monkeys or whatever they're called over there in Germany didn't come to their senses on Tom Arth earlier. He was electrifying in those few snaps he saw of live action and could have made them a contender for whatever piece of metal they play for...

...You may have noticed that the players who played well on their European vacations (Arth, Ford, Mays, Hutton and Josh Mallard) have been assigned or re-assigned uniform numbers on the official roster, while those that didn't play much or well (Javor Mills, Daryl Dixon and Stephen Scaldaferri) have not. But that doesn't explain why Andre' Sommersell, who stunk up the joint, is now wearing No. 53 and not even sharing it with an offensive prospect...

...Interestingly, Mallard, who had two sacks in the season opener and rarely sniffed a ballcarrier for the rest of the season, had two sacks in the NFL Europe championship game...

...One of Mallard's sacks was against Berlin's David Porter, who has since been invited to Colts' camp. A massive (6'6, 317) right tackle type some of you may remember from his days with the Hawkeyes, he's spent time in the Packers and Bills organizations. He looked out of place as a left tackle in Europe, especially trying to protect less-than-agile Dave Ragone, but gained valuable experience there. He's a bull in the running game and has terrific hands, but his footwork has not up to NFL standards so far...

...I'm glad Anthony Davis reminds Bill Polian of Thurman Thomas, but Davis is even smaller in an era when other players are much larger. Still, Polian isn't exactly Sparky Anderson when it comes to hyping rookies and prospects, so Davis is definitely a player to watch.


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