Talkin' With Tony: August 14

Tony Dungy talked to the media in between practices at training camp Thursday. The Colts coach talked about camp winding down, some of the injured players returning, the adjustments small-school players have to make to the NFL and more.

On the morning's practice:

"We had a good start to our preparation. This afternoon we will have a second practice, which we haven't had many of, where we are trying to really get some things accomplished and work on Atlanta. We've got a lot of guys that are only practicing once a day, so it will be incumbent on our young guys to really step it up this afternoon. We will see how we respond, but overall it's been a pretty good week. I think we've been a little more focused than last week, and we would expect to come out and play a little bit better."

On the offensive line:

"We're coming together, getting our new right guards incorporated into things and trying to pick up where we left off last year with the other guys. The big thing for our whole offense, we just have to shoot for a little more consistency and be sharp every time we go out there, whether it's five plays or 15 plays or whatever. We plan on playing them a little bit longer in this game to give them a little more chance to develop that continuity."

On if small-school players have to get rid of the "awe" of camp:

"That's part of it. And then, there's just a little higher level of competition, a little more sophistication in what you're doing. Some guys make the jump and handle it really well. (WR) Pierre (Garcon) has picked things up and done a good job."

On DE Curtis Johnson saying there were more people at a practice in Terre Haute than at his games at Clark College:

"That's one thing that you do find with some of those small-school guys. It kind of amazes you when a guy will come up to you after practice and say, ‘I think this is the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of,' and you realize where they've come from. For the most part, they know it's football, it's a 100-yard field and they are doing what they do for the most part. Curtis and (WR) Pierre (Garcon) have done a good job of that."

On if the team will flip QBs Quinn Gray and Jared Lorenzen again against Atlanta:

"I think we probably will. I haven't talked to (associate head coach) Jim Caldwell yet, but that was our thought process going into this whole year, that we would do that. Those guys have done a good job and been ready when called on."

On the injuries to DBs Bob Sanders and Melvin Bullitt:

"It gives the other guys a chance to show what they can do. Melvin has practiced well. He's doing what he needs to do on the practice field. We may get him in some playing time against Buffalo (Aug. 24). He's getting a smaller cast and splint every week, so it's coming along and he's doing a good job of just hanging in there mentally."

On RBs Kenton Keith and Chad Simpson:

"They're doing well. All of our backs have done what we hoped. It's going to be a tough call because all those guys do a little bit of something different, but they are all playing well."

On if he has any concern the six PUP players will not be ready for the season opener:

"Not really any concern. Everybody's on the schedule we thought they would be on. I think several of those guys will probably be back at the start of next week. (QB) Peyton (Manning) and (OG) Ryan Lilja are the question marks, but it was always that way going in, so we'll see what happens. Right now, everybody's where we thought they would be."

On how much of a boost it will be to drop those guys into practice three weeks in:

"It'll help us. I think this part has helped us, where you get used to functioning, you know you can do it. And then you add in some Pro-Bowl-type guys, it's definitely going to help us."

On if QB Peyton Manning is on pace to return in the four-to-six week window originally given:

"He's doing exactly what we thought he would do. (TE) Tom Santi is about ready to come back to practice, and I would imagine Peyton would be a couple of weeks behind him. As far as being on target, having no real setbacks, he's doing just fine.

"He's rehabbing, working on range of motion, doing what they are asking him to do. He's throwing some, he's lifting, so he's staying active and at some point he'll get the OK."

On if he is happy with what the team has accomplished during the Terre Haute portion of camp:

"It's been good. We've accomplished what we hoped to. We found out a lot about some of our younger guys. That's this part of camp, and then we'll go back and put the finishing touches on it the last two weeks in Indy. It has been very productive so far."

On the if the team's record in the first two months of the regular season overshadows the pre-season losses:

"It's hard to complain with that. I really do think that you gain things by winning, and it does bother me we haven't won more in the pre-season, but our target is always September and we've been good in September, so I don't let it bother me too much."

On how the team's DTs are progressing:

"They're coming along. They're getting a lot of work. Some of our young guys — Eric Foster in particular — has done really well in the opportunities he's gotten there. We've moved Raheem Brock back in there a little bit, back and forth between end and tackle. Joe Bradley is doing well in there, so guys are getting an opportunity."

On how Raheem Brock moving back to DT affects the DE position:

"We will see how it goes. Depending on how (DE) Dwight (Freeney) is when he comes back and how our end situation is, we would like to play Raheem a little bit more inside, but if he has to play outside then that means some of those other guys have to step up."

On if he hopes to get OG Ryan Lilja back before the end of the pre-season:

"That would be our hope with all of those guys, that they get some work in the pre-season. That's always ideal. (DB) Bob Sanders has had years where he hasn't done that and still played pretty well, but ideally you'd like to get some work in training camp and that's what our hope is for all of those guys."

On why his team has been so successful in plugging guys in when others are injured:

"I think it's part of the way our whole organization looks at it. We've got some guys who are really, really good players, but I think we look at it like nobody's indispensable. We have expectations that when we put a guy in the lineup he'll do the job. So we don't change a lot, we don't do a lot of things differently. Everybody believes that whoever steps in there is going to do it. I think that's the approach the players take. Part of that, too, is (team president) Bill (Polian) and his staff bringing in good players so when you are plugging in someone, it's a good player."

On if it's different plugging a player in at DE versus plugging a player in for QB Peyton Manning:

"Not really. With the (St. Louis) Rams, I think most people would've said Kurt Warner replacing Trent Green that year (1999), that Green might have been indispensible. You've got a guy that's been an Arena League player behind him and, ‘how are you going to win?' And it happens. Guys get an opportunity to show what they can do.

"You can be perceived to be indispensible. Everybody can say, ‘Oh, if Peyton Manning isn't playing, the Colts are going to be a .500 team.' I don't think anybody here believes that. Is it easier to win without Peyton? No. It's going to be tougher. But if it happens, we'll believe that we can get it done. That's been our mentality all the way through. I think you have to believe that as a football team."


Colts Blitz Top Stories