Colts Notebook: Aug. 24

For head coaches in the National Football League, the preseason is exactly that. Won-loss records don't really mean a whole lot during the month of August. Case in point. A year ago, the Detroit Lions went undefeated in the preseason and then failed to win a game in the regular season.

Another case in point. The Indianapolis Colts have won one game each during the preseason over the past three years and didn't win a game at all during the 2005 preseason. Yet, the Colts have posted 12 or more wins over the past six regular seasons.

In the NFL, the preseason is a time to experiment a bit with players, to mix and match. To find out if a particular player can play more than one position. How quickly can a player grasp what he is being taught and then put it into use on the practice field?

Can the player adjust to the increased speed, tempo of the professional game? Is the player a star in practice but a dud in games? Or is he just the opposite, someone who really turns it on when the games start but struggles in practice.

That's the process that Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell is currently going through. Yes, the Colts' 23-15 preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles was nice. It certainly helps in the teaching process. But Caldwell understands that the preseason is still very much an extended evaluation period.

"The (preseason) doesn't count for much these days, right?" the first-year Colts head coach said. "When the real bullets start flying, well then obviously it's a little different story. But we're certainly pleased to end on a positive note in the (Philadelphia) game.

"The positive side of the ledger is important. I think it's a much better platform to teach from in that regard. To get a win under your belt is a good feeling, regardless. That's why we play this game. We play because we love to compete and winning is important."

Still, player evaluation always trumps winning a particular game in the preseason.

"It always (does). I think, too, that's one of the reasons why you may see that some teams during the course of preseason that may not win very many games and then end up having a great year. Or some teams that win a lot of games during the preseason and struggle during the year," Caldwell explained.

"I think that there are certain situations that occur (in the preseason) against teams that, due to injuries and things of that nature, would certainly give you some false impressions. You have to be very, very careful about your assessments (about players) as you move along."

Battle of the week: WR Pierre Garcon vs. WR Austin Collie as the Colts' third receiver — As things have shaken out during training camp and the preseason, Collie appears to prosper better working out of the slot. Garcon, meanwhile, has the speed and athletic skills to play as an outside receiver.

Other battle fronts: TE Jacob Tamme vs. Gijon Robinson as the second end in the two-tight end alignment. Robinson missed the Philadelphia preseason game due to a back injury. Tamme, though, stepped his game up as he hauled in a game-high five passes. Tamme was slowed by injuries as a rookie a year ago, but his size (6-3) and speed downfield could make the difference.

CB Tim Jennings vs. Jerraud Powers as the nickel back. Jennings has the experience, both as a key backup and a starter a year ago when he took over for an injured Marlin Jackson. He has had a good training camp and preseason. Powers, though, has a knack for being around the football and as a playmaker.

Player of the week: WR Reggie Wayne — Wayne has shown indications that he is ready to take his overall game up to another level this season. Which is saying a lot since he was already one of the top receivers in the league. He has become even more of a leader for the Colts offense, both on and off the field.

NOTES, QUOTES

— The Colts' 23-15 win over Philadelphia was the franchise's fourth preseason win in five years, its first-ever preseason win at Lucas Oil Stadium and the first home preseason win for the franchise since a 37-10 thumping of the Detroit Lions at the RCA Dome on Aug. 25, 2007. It was also the first win (although not official) for the Colts under first-year head coach Jim Caldwell.

— Manning gave up one of his No. 18 jerseys to the Pro Football Hall of Fame recently. He was presented with his third NFL Most Valuable Player award at halftime of the Colts' preseason game with Philadelphia.

Joe Horrigan, executive director of the Hall of Fame, was on hand for the presentation and took the jersey back to Canton, Ohio. Manning is one of only two current players with three league MVP awards, along with Brett Favre.

— The final attendance numbers for the two-and-a-half weeks of training camp at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., are in. The Colts attracted the second highest number of fans since the team moved its preseason practices to Rose-Hulman in 1999 at 24,053 (for 22 total workouts). Those figures fell below the record-setting mark of 27,340 (30 sessions), which was set in 2007.

One record was set though as the team averaged 1,083 fans per practice session. That tops the average of 911 from the 2007 training camp.

— The Colts just missed seeing Brett Favre quarterback the Minnesota Vikings and didn't get an opportunity to face Michael Vick either.

Favre signed with the Vikings after Minnesota played Indianapolis in a preseason game. Vick, meanwhile, wasn't eligible to play when the Philadelphia Eagles played at Lucas Oil Stadium last week.

— The Colts have released LB Adam Seward and QB Chris Crane. Indianapolis has re-signed former Illinois State RB Walter Mendenhall and added former Iowa S Marcus Paschal to the roster.

Seward had been signed as a free agent on March 20. He had been a fifth-round draft choice of the Carolina Panthers in 2005. Mendenhall was initially added to the Indianapolis roster on Aug. 13 but was waived a couple of days later.

Paschal was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007. He was not on an NFL roster in any capacity during the 2008 season. The 6-foot, 201-pound native of Clearwater, Fla., was signed by the Atlanta Falcons this past January and was released on May 15.

— LB Gary Brackett has been named as the recipient of Pro Football Weekly's 11th annual Arthur S. Arkush Humanitarian Award. The award is given to an NFL player whose contributions to the community and charitable organizations are especially outstanding.

He was one of five finalists for the award, along with Chris Draft (St. Louis Rams), Israel Idonije (Chicago Bears), David Thornton (Tennessee Titans) and Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys). Brackett's IMPACT Foundation helps to provide resources and opportunities for children and families affected by pediatric cancer.

The award is named in honor of Arthur S. Arkush, the founder of Pro Football Weekly.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not real sure (if Jim Sorgi will be able to play against the Detroit Lions). That's one of the things that we're going to take a good look at and see just how he progresses. He was out there (in a recent practice), but we really haven't seen him put really any stress on it as of yet. He will participate (in practice) a little bit. (This week) we'll try to see if we can ramp it up a little bit more and see exactly how much he can do. We're going to look at every conceivable possibility. If (Sorgi hasn't recovered enough), we'll kind of look at that down the road. But we fully expect right now and anticipate that (Sorgi) will be able to move forward and keep progressing and be just fine. And if can't go, we'll have to look at maybe another scenario." — Colts coach Jim Caldwell on the playing status of primary backup QB Jim Sorgi.


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