Manning remains the man behind center for the Colts. His productivity has not diminished during his 10 years in the league. Manning continues to fine-tune his game in terms of better ball control and with his mobility outside the pocket. Although his recent knee surgery is alarming for fans, the team expects him to be ready to go for the start of the regular season.
Sorgi remains the primary backup and was recently rewarded with a contract extension. Betts has been a practice squad guy who has shown flashes of ability.
Addai has been very productive since he came into the league as a rookie two years ago. He split playing time with Rhodes in 2006 and did the same with Keith last year.
Now he has both Rhodes and Keith to share the workload, although Rhodes may end up getting the bulk of the backup duty. Keith figures to fight for a roster spot along with Hart, Dawson and Simpson. There are no true fullbacks on the current roster.
Dallas Clark will be expected to earn his big contract this season
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Clark became the highest paid tight end in the league during the offseason. But that bump in his wallet shouldn't be a problem for the former Iowa standout. He blossomed as one of more feared pass-catching tight ends in the league and can line up in the slot or split out wide as a receiver when the Colts want to give a defense a different look.
But the big question remains: Who will end up as Clark's primary backup? Robinson spent his rookie season last year on the practice squad. Tamme and Santi are both rookie draft picks and fit the molds of former tight ends Bryan Fletcher (released) and Ben Utecht (left via free agency for Cincinnati).
Wayne has become one of the best overall receivers in the game. Harrison is coming off a knee injury that limited his playing time and his effectiveness last year. Both could have big years in 2008. Gonzalez got off to a slow start as a rookie due to injuries but started to come on late in the year. Hall is a bit of a project, but his size (6-3, 240) and athleticism has impressed the coaching staff. He missed most of his rookie year with a shoulder injury.
Aromashodu got the attention of his teammates last year as he filled in on a limited basis for Harrison. Roby returns to his hometown after struggling to fine a role with the Titans. Keep an eye out for several talented rookies, such as Burgess, Dillon, Garcon and Giguere. Several of them could make the team as special teams performers.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters — LT Tony Ugoh, LG Ryan Lilja, C Jeff Saturday, RG Charlie Johnson, RT Ryan Diem. Backups — T Tala Esera, T Daniel Federkeil, T Corey Hilliard, C/G Steve Justice, T Darren Marquez, G Mike Pollak, G Jamey Richard, T Michael Toudouze.
Gone is former starting right offensive guard Jake Scott, who signed with Tennessee as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. But the rest of the Colts' offensive line remains virtually intact. Ugoh continues to develop into a top-flight left tackle while veterans Saturday, Lilja and Diem provide a firm foundation.
Pollak, Justice and Richard will fight for playing time. Johnson will most likely get first dibs at Scott's old spot, where Pollak is expected to be his main competition for the job. Hilliard, Federkeil, Esera and Toudouze figure to battle it out for backup roles.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters — LE Robert Mathis, LT Ed Johnson, RT Raheem Brock, RE Dwight Freeney. Backups — T Joe Bradley, E Jeff Charleston, T Keyunta Dawson, T Colin Ferrell, T Eric Foster, E Marcus Howard, E Ben Ishola, E Curtis Johnson, T Darrell Reid, E Josh Thomas.
If Freeney and Mathis can return at 100 percent after missing playing time with injuries last season, the Colts front four appear to be in pretty good shape. Johnson was a major surprise as an undrafted rookie a year ago and should improve with his added experience. Brock has settled in nicely into a small but quick tackle after beginning his NFL career as a defensive end.
Thomas and Charleston will enter training camp as the primary backups to Freeney and Mathis, but rookies Howard and Johnson could make things very interesting. Reid is a proven veteran backup who has become a special teams demon. Foster is a definitely possibility to earn a spot on the team at the end of training camp.
Gary Brackett will again anchor the middle of the Colts' defense in 2008
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Heading into the one-month break between organized team activities and the start of training camp, the Colts' starting linebacking situation appeared to be settled with Brackett, Hagler and Keiaho as starters. But then Hagler, who has battled a variety of injuries throughout his brief NFL career, suffered a torn pectoral muscle lifting weights and could be sidelined for all of training camp as well as the beginning of the regular season.
Session, who played relatively well in a limited role as a rookie last year, figures to be a prime candidate to step in on the strong side, but rookie Wheeler or second-year pro Worsley might end up there.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters — LCB Kelvin Hayden, RCB Marlin Jackson, SS Bob Sanders, FS Antoine Bethea. Backups — S Melvin Bullitt, CB Michael Coe, S Brannon Condren, CB Brandon Foster, S Matt Giordano, CB Dante Hughes, CB Tim Jennings, CB Keiwan Ratliff, CB T.J. Rushing. S Jamie Silva, CB Antonio Smith.
Literally and figuratively, this is the backbone of the improved Colts' defense. Hayden, Jackson, Bethea and Sanders are as good a group of defensive backs as there is in the league. Bethea and Sanders both earned trips to the Pro Bowl a year ago and a good case could have been made for Jackson and Hayden as well. Giordano gives the Colts quality depth at both safety spots. Bullitt has quickly developed into a strong backup at safety. The same can be said of Ratliff at cornerback.
Now its time for Jennings, Hughes, Coe and Condren to show that same kind of development and consistency. Rushing was drafted to be the team's kick and punt returner but has proved to be a pretty good cornerback when given the chance to play. Smith missed his rookie year due to an injury, but the former undrafted free agent could make a name for himself this season along with 2008 rookies Silva and Foster.
It doesn't get much better than Vinatieri and Smith as the Colts' kickers. Vinatieri had another strong season in 2007, although he battled with some minor injuries early in the season and missed a couple of kicks that he wouldn't normally. Smith has become valuable both as a punter and holder. Snow's long-snapping skills continue to be good. Rushing did a nice job handling all return duties for Indianapolis last year. Rhodes may get some work returning kickoffs this season and the team is expected to take a long look at rookies such as Dillon, Burgess, Hart and Simpson as potential punt and kickoff returners.