Talkin' With Tony: September 1

Tony Dungy spent a little time on Labor Day to talk to the media about the team's roster cutdowns and new additions and why the Colts kept who they did. He also addressed questions on Peyton Manning's knee, who will return kicks, the status of Tyjuan Hagler and Ryan Lilja, and getting ready for the start of the regular season and the Chicago Bears.

"It is fun to be here at the start of the regular season, to get work in and to get rolling. I think this is what everybody looks forward to. The first part of our year is actually finished and that's putting the team together, getting ourselves organized and getting what we think is the best 53-man team ready to go. Now it comes into preparation, actually getting ready for game week, preparing for the Bears and it's going to be fun. We're looking forward to it, excited. We're not really doing anything on the Bears (Monday). We just want to come in and get good work, get our whole group here and get that weekend run out of us and be ready to go on Wednesday."

On the roster cuts:

"We did it like we always do — try to look at who can do what for us, who can do a lot of things. We probably leaned a little more heavily on defense, as we normally do, but we have some versatile players on offense. We decided to keep four tight ends rather than keep four running backs. Courtney Roby and Roy Hall do some very, very good things on special teams and that tipped the scale at wide receiver. We were able to claim two guys on defense that we think are going to help us. Buster Davis we liked coming out of college and he's been in Detroit's system, knows what we're doing, and plays with a lot of energy. We really, really liked him anyway and thought we had a chance to upgrade our linebacker corps. (DT) Dan Muir was a guy that (team president) Bill (Polian) saw, and showed me the tape on him and thought he would be a good, bigger body to help us shore up the interior of our line. We think those two guys are going to help us and we like where we are right now."

On if keeping two QBs means Peyton Manning and Jim Sorgi are good to go:

"From everything we hear, that looks like that's going to be the case. We've been a two-quarterback team and right now we just felt like that was the way we were going to go and felt like we'd be fine."

On how the Colts ran the ball well vs. the Bears in Super Bowl XLI:

"A lot of it is situation — time in the game, score, getting the momentum — all those kinds of things. We ran the ball well, especially in the second half. It was the type of game where you had to run it and our guys did a good job. I'm sure they're going to look at that tape and look at the way things are done. Both teams are going to play the same style of defense, basically. Both teams' defensive players could probably call the other team's defense when they see them line up, so it's really a matter of execution. It's not anything where we had plays that they didn't know about or they had running plays we don't know about. They're going to run their plays at a defense they have practiced against for four years and we are going to run our plays at a defense we've practiced against for seven years. Somebody's going to execute well and win, and in the Super Bowl it was us."

On how big of a challenge it will be to run the ball given the injuries to the OL:

"We have to be able to run the ball to win. We think we will be able to run it. The toughest thing for us is not going to be the injuries that we have — I think our guys will do fine, but they'll have (DT) Tommie Harris, who they didn't have last time, and that'll be different for sure. It's really just doing your job and executing your techniques. We'll have confidence that (QB) Peyton (Manning) will get us in the right plays, the plays that we should run against the fronts that we see."

On if keeping 12 rookies is normal:

"It probably is with a team like us. Where we are salary-cap wise, we are going to have to continue to have young players play. I think for us, between eight and 13, 14 rookies is probably the way it'll be for the next few years.

"We say when our guys come in the first day of minicamp that's we expect. That's why we practice the way we do and why it's so important for those guys to get with the veterans, because everybody on our team is going to play at some point during the year and everybody is going to play big roles. We had free agents starting and playing in the Super Bowl. We've had low-round draft choices that go to Pro Bowls because they do play and hopefully play well."

On if WR Courtney Roby will be the team's kick returner:

"I think every game will be different. Courtney did a great job for us. His style of returning was very conducive to going against the teams we played against. Every week, you evaluate that, but Courtney will do a great job. (RB) Dominic Rhodes has done it for us and done it well in the past. (WR) Pierre (Garcon) has done well. We just have to get him comfortable handling the ball, but we have a number of guys who can do it. Depending on the type of returns we're using and the types of coverage units, it may be different every week, but Courtney's certainly done a great job."

On the Saints practicing in Indianapolis this week:

"It's a tough situation for them. I'm sure they're concerned number one about their hometown and families and everything and then number two trying to get prepared to play. We can help them and be of help for the second part, being prepared to play. We will certainly do all we can in that regard."

On what the team can do to help the Saints:

"Whatever they need in terms of equipment. Obviously we have a great facility for them to practice in, but in terms of anything we can have structurally, materials, anything they need, we will certainly help them out. I'm sure they're going to be traveling with most everything they need, but those little things that come up, if it's projectors or video machines, anything we can do to help, we certainly will."

On when he found out the Saints would be in Indianapolis this week:

"I didn't really find out about it until this past weekend. I'm sure they were in contact with (Owner and CEO) Jim (Irsay) and (team president) Bill (Polian). It's something I think anyone in the league would do. We happened to have the facility to do it. We don't practice at the stadium and it's easy to get in and out of Indianapolis for them. It was probably perfect. We were glad to do it and I'm sure the other 30 teams would be just as glad."

On the effect QB Peyton Manning can have on new offensive linemen:

"You can't over blow it. Whether it's (WR) Anthony Gonzalez starting, or whether it's (RB) Joseph Addai playing as a rookie, new tight ends — Dallas Clark playing as a rookie — guys just have to feel like they have to do their job. We played with three interior guys in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day against two really, really good tackles. It was Trevor Hutton, Jake Scott and Ryan Lilja. The guys went out there and did their job and we put up a lot of points. That's how we look at it — the guys that are here are here because they can do the job and I think they will."

On if there is any concern about QB Peyton Manning taking his first hit in the regular season:

"Not really. He's practiced and I'm sure he would have rather have gone through training camp and got his normal repetitions and his normal amount of work, but we've done it with other people. (DB) Bob Sanders did it one year and when you have veteran guys, that part is not the issue.

"We'll bump him up in practice a little bit. It's not like we want him to get hit a lot in the game anyway, so hopefully, he doesn't have to get used to getting hit a lot. You might worry about it if it was a second-year or third-year player, but with some of your veteran guys, you aren't going to worry about it."

On how close OG Ryan Lilja and LB Tyjuan Hagler were to not going on PUP:

"It's something we debated. It looks like they both could possibly play and be ready before that six-game window. How much you gain, what's the percentage that they're going to be back week three or week four or week five, that's what we had to talk through. We just thought it was best for the long haul to leave both of them where they are, even if they are going to be physically ready to go a week or two ahead of time. It didn't seem worth the risk to us."

On how different it is for a QB to take snaps from someone he's not used to:

"It's one of those things that you'd rather not do, but once the game starts, you really don't even think about it. You're comfortable with your center, but for the most part — especially the way we do it — (Associate Head Coach) Jim Caldwell and (Offensive Line Coach) Howard Mudd, they rotate all of our guys through. Even guys like (OL) Charlie Johnson and (OG) Ryan Lilja have snapped to Peyton and Jim Sorgi many, many times during practice. I hate to say it's not a big deal, but it's not one of the things you really think about too much."

On C Steve Justice:

"Steve's doing well. He's a very, very smart guy. He's very athletic and the stuff we do in the running game — trying to get to the sideline on our stretch plays, getting out, pulling, cutting off linebackers — he's done real well. And then, understanding what we're doing in the passing game and where linebackers are and getting the line going the right way, he's done a good job at all that. He's doing really well."

On what kind of atmosphere he expects at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday night:

"I think it's going to be great. I told our players it's going to be much different from what they experienced the last two weeks. We're pretty excited about that."


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