Football season is about to begin. Training camp looms large and our team, although looking very strong, has a couple of very interesting and vital situations that will play out over the next few weeks.
Up until now, I only had two stressful matters to deal with. Do I stick with "Sweet Pea" as the moniker for Vincent Burns, although I desperately yearn to refer to him as "Montgomery"? And if I do go with Monty, who should we cast as Smithers? Mike Vanderjagt, perhaps?
And what about this Roscoe Crosby chap? Aside from the fact that this was the one unforeseen Colts move that has me mildly excited (if this guy is as good as they say he could be, does it provide Colts management with a little leverage in the upcoming contract talks with Reginald Wayne?), it has also left me with a similar dilemma. Do I go with Roscoe "P. Coletrane" Crosby (which I used for Roscoe Parrish during the award-winning CP Mock Draft), or with the more simple yet elegant, "Bing"?
BUT NOW, some other, perhaps even more pressing concerns have surged to the fore:
How will our linebacking situation pan out?
As hilarious as this may sound to some of you, were it not for the signing of Roberto "The Cat" Morris, I would be in a complete tizzy on this subject! I feel his signing at least guarantees that we will see mild improvement at LB from last year, simply as a result of continuity, if nothing else.
And if one either Cato "Sidekick" June, Gilbert "Grape" Gardner, Kendyll Pope or someone else takes the next step in development, we could see significant advances. So there is hope for this group, and some depth, even if they are now quite probably our defensive weakness (at least on paper.) Their preseason play is THE biggest X-factor for this Colts freak.
How will Joe "George" Jefferson fare at safety?
With Mike Doss sitting out the first two games of the regular season, this is important stuff. I, for one, don't want Donald "Strychnine" Strickland moving back to safety. I think he is a super cornerback in the making.
Will our defensive line continue to improve with the addition of a few new folks, notably Mister Burns? Is anyone else really curious to see what this guy can do?
Last year, I felt this group performed above my wildest expectations. Montae Reagor proved to be a player, Freeney is "All Solar System," and the rest of the rotation proved very formidable for most of the year. The move putting Raheem "Stan" Brock (another "Wild Kingdom" reference!!) inside on passing downs and letting Robert "Johnny" Mathis run wild from the end proved to be a total nightmare for opponents on passing downs. This year it could get even better.
And with an upgrade at the CB position with the drafting of Mutual of Omaha's Marlin "Perkins" Jackson and the return of Donald Strickland, I see even better results (read: turnovers and short possessions, kids!).
Getting Strickland back, after missing pretty much all of 2004, is kind of like getting TWO brand new top draft picks at CB. And I haven't even mentioned our 2nd round pick. What's his name again?
All in all, I think our defensive backfield is going to see HUGE improvements over last year by the quarter mark. Jason David proved he can play in this league, same with "Nick the Pick" Harper. But I think the key is Kid Dy-no-mite, JJ, at safety. We need a quality 3rd there. I like Cory Bird, but we need a guy who is a little better in pass coverage. Maybe Joe Jeff can be that guy.
The only other area of concern is the offensive guard position. Will Jake Scott continue to improve? If history is any indicator, then the answer is yes. The Colts' young offensive linemen in the past few years saw major progress in their second season. And will Dylan Gandy be able to handle the starting assignment? Lots of CPers feel sure of this; I even read where someone posted he'll be better than DeMutant was. I hope so.
DeMulling developed into a really good starting guard, and he wasn't selected until the seventh round. He impressed me HUGE in the progress he made over his first season.
But don't forget – he STUNK in his first year, almost getting Peyton dismembered on a few occasions. Let's hope Gandy is a little quicker out of the blocks.
As far as the whole, "will Edgerrin report or not" stuff heats up, I'm honestly not too concerned. So long as he's in town by the end of camp, and suits up on opening day, which he will.
If he averages 2 carries per game in the preseason, that's more than enough for me. Get him a solid week of practice to get a feel for the new offensive linemen, take a few handoffs, go over the tweaks in our playbook, and that's all he needs. The guy's been toting the rock since he was what, 6 years old? He's not gonna forget the basics now, and he knows the offense inside and out. If he doesn't have his timing with Peyton down by now, he never will.
Of course I want him there too, but if he misses the first week, even two, I really wouldn't be that concerned. I don't think it would have any affect. Sure some coaches and players would be peeved. But it'd all be forgotten after his first practice.
The only other person on offense I'll be interested in hearing about is this Crosby guy. Let's see if he can show something and turn some heads in camp. Otherwise, all my focus and concern, once again, is with the defense.
And I'm feeling better about it than I was at this time last year. Good day to you.
Training Camp, 2005......FINALLY!!
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