Colts Blog: August 2, 2007

The Colts are throwing Tony Ugoh to the wolves (actually, far worse, they've thrown him to Dwight Freeney). It's time for him to show he can do the job. There are plans in place in case he fails, but they really, really hope he succeeds.

The Tarik Glenn is era over, long live the Tony Ugoh era! Yep, Ugoh is taking snaps with the first team at left tackle in training camp, months after the Colts said he would begin his career at guard, but — more importantly — days after Glenn retired.

As Colts President Bill Polian bombastically put it (I paraphrase here out of necessity), left tackles like Glenn don't come around very often, and Ugoh is enough like him to justify the team's investment in him (two draft picks, including next year's first rounder) and to give him a shot at protecting Peyton Manning's backside.

Polian does have a point: Ugoh does look a lot like Glenn, only without the belly. He has the quickness, the athleticism and the intelligence (a trait often overlooked in Glenn) to succeed. In his senior year at Arkansas — the only one where his mind appeared to be more on football than the track events he both loves and dominates — he allowed just one sack.

But he is a rookie, and Manning's safety is just too valuable to trust to just anyone, no matter how talented. But the Colts have two great advantages in assessing Ugoh's readiness: a) they get to see him practice against über-rusher Dwight Freeney every day in camp, and b) they have Howard Mudd, who may know more about offensive line play than any man alive, deciding whether he gets a passing grade or not.

Should Ugoh fail to nail down the starting gig, the Colts have other viable options in sophomore swing backup Charlie Johnson and lanky starting guard Jake Scott. With either of them starting — or if Ugoh just squeaks by them — the Colts offensive blueprint will be greatly compromised.

The plan, as evidenced by the selection of Anthony Gonzalez and Roy Hall in the draft, is to return to the three-wide flying circus days of 2004. You all remember when Manning threw a million touchdown passes and all kinds of receivers had thousand-yard seasons. But if the left tackle needs chipping help on passing plays, look for the Colts to run a less potent, more restrictive two-tight end offense.

And while it's been widely reported that Glenn's retirement is temporary, don't believe it.

Tony Dungy (AP Photo)
• Now that Corey Simon's reportedly failed his physical, it looks like another era (though a much shorter and altogether less impressive one than Glenn's) is over. When all is said and done, the Colts paid a lot of money for a few good games, a lot of headaches and the burning need to trade a second-round pick to get Anthony McFarland. The sooner he's gone, the better.

• Two veterans, Bob Sanders and Keith O'Neil, were PUP-ed. To tell the truth, it's not like those two need training camp anyway. The Colts know what they can do and that they can both perform on a moment's notice.

But I think we all have to come to the realization that Sanders is like an Italian sports car — sure he's great, but he's too fragile to use every day; so they must use him only when necessary. And from what I saw of Matt Giordano last season, especially in the playoffs, I'm not overly concerned about the games Sanders can't play.

• Injuries have also limited veterans Aaron Moorehead, Gary Brackett, Rick DeMulling, Ryan Lilja, Josh Thomas, Robert Mathis, Jeff Saturday and Tim Jennings. The only one I'm worried about is Jennings, because we know what the others can do. Not only is Jennings still an unknown quantity after an injury-plagued rookie season, but the Colts recognized their need for corners and drafted a pair. Young Mr. Jennings could find himself farther down the depth chart than he thought — or even looking for a job in another city.

• Speaking of corners, Marlin Jackson made a point of telling the media that he's no longer taking reps at safety and is now the Colts' starting right corner. That's great, Marlin, but keep in mind that right corner is the No. 2 position and that Kelvin Hayden, the guy drafted a round after you, has leapfrogged you for No. 1.

I have to admit that I am genuinely concerned about the Colts' corners — more so than I am about their left tackle situation. Last year's starters — the departed Nick Harper and Jason David — were both sorely underrated players, and the plan for Jackson, Hayden and/or Jennings to take over seamlessly has hit a few snags. Not only has Jennings rarely seen the field, but Jackson has been nothing short of horrible in coverage. Even Hayden, who admitted has had his moments, is far from a sure thing. This is a situation that bears close scrutiny.

• To stay with corners for a moment, draft pick Daymeion Hughes said yesterday he prefers to be known as Dante. It's not as cool if you ask me, but it is easier to spell.

• One other thing has been on my mind. Lots of training camp observers have been talking about how fast, how big and how cut Roy Hall is. But we all knew that; maybe they can tell us why he was Ohio State's fifth-best wide receiver last year.


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