Colts Notebook: April 6

Getting back to work after a season when most everything went right, the Colts begin offseason workouts focused on what went wrong. Hence the team's main focus — Run the football better.

That's the mantra the coaching staff and players will be repeating during the offseason. The Colts have struggled to put together a sustained running attack for the past two seasons, although there was some improvement in 2009 following a subpar performance a year earlier.

"We don't have to be the best (at running the ball). We've just got to get up to average," Indianapolis head coach Jim Caldwell said recently.

Caldwell was asked repeatedly about the team's running woes during the course of the 2009 campaign. He admitted that there was a problem, but it was something that the franchise was working hard to correct.

And he did see some improvement last fall. But repeated struggles in getting anything going in short-yardage and goal-line situations have come back to haunt the Colts, especially in the post-season.

In much the same way that former coach Tony Dungy talked about improving the Colts' run defense, Caldwell is taking the same type of approach on the offensive side of the ball.

"We don't want to do a (wholesale) about-face," he said. "That's not us. We want the same approach. We just want to do it better, that's all."

That includes doing it better with bigger, more physical offensive linemen and perhaps a few tweaks to the team's offensive system — such as using a lead-blocking fullback on occasion. The Colts have made scarce use of fullbacks in the past.

Notes:

— The Colts currently have eight picks heading into the 2010 NFL Draft — Round 1: No. 31 overall; Round 2: No. 63 overall; Round 3: No. 94 overall; Round 4: No. 129 overall; Round 5: No. 162 overall; Round 7: No. 238 overall; Round 7: No. 240 overall; Round 7: No. 246 overall.

— Indianapolis will play the Packers at Green Bay's Lambeau Field in a preseason game Aug. 26 on ESPN.

The Thursday night matchup is the third of four preseason games for the Colts.

— The Colts open the preseason Aug. 15 against the San Francisco 49ers at Lucas Oil Stadium. They play the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 19 at Toronto and finish Sept. 2 at home against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The game in Toronto is the Colts' third outside the U.S.

— Team owner Jim Irsay hopes to make some progress concerning contract negotiations with veteran QB Peyton Manning. Manning's contract expires after the 2010 season.

"We know Peyton's going to be paid, along with (New England quarterback Tom) Brady, at the top of the league," Irsay said. "But it's really important to make sure we get a deal that for the next four, five, six years works for the franchise."

— Head coach Jim Caldwell likes the groups of receivers that the Colts have returning for the 2010 season. Indianapolis has veteran Reggie Wayne back and he will be surrounded by Anthony Gonzalez (back from knee surgery that sidelined him for the better part of the 2009 season), Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie.

Garcon and Collie both played well for the Colts in 2009 and are expected to be even better this fall.

"We're in a situation we haven't been in since (2004) when we had three receivers — Marvin Harrison, Wayne and Brandon Stokley — over 1,000 yards, That was a good group. This group is as talented. As much as we throw the ball, we'll find a place. If they're all healthy and ready to go, we'll find a place. I don't think Gonzalez is quite where he'd like to be, but by the time we get rolling he'll be there," Caldwell said.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We definitely have to give him some more help." — Team owner Jim Irsay on trying to improve the personnel around four-time league MVP Peyton Manning during the 2010 season.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Colts appear to be set at all three linebacking positions heading into this month's NFL Draft.

Indianapolis returns starters Gary Brackett in the middle along with weak-side 'backer Clint Session and strong-side linebacker Philip Wheeler.

While Brackett is the key and Session made great progress in his first year as a starter on the weak side, it was the play of Wheeler as the season progressed that has the coaching staff excited.

"Philip has come along very well. He participated and played quite a bit, just in terms of our (look) squad early on. You could see him grow and develop in that role. When he had an opportunity to play, and really battled it out with Tyjuan Hagler early, he was a guy that just week-in and week-out found ways to try to improve himself, working with (Linebackers Coach) Mike Murphy and working on the little details, in terms of his movements and drops and reads and keys,' said head coach Jim Caldwell.

"You can even see within a meeting room setting how much he understands, how quickly he has grown to understand it, and he has gotten to the point now where is quite effective. But he has a tremendous upside. You haven't seen the best of him yet. You'll continue to see him get better and better. That's what we anticipate."

TEAM NEEDS

1. Offensive line: Get bigger. Be more physical at the point of attack. And don't lose the athleticism that has been the hallmark of recent Colts offensive lines.

2. Defensive end: Find another edge pass rusher who is big and physical enough to move inside in the team's defensive line rotation. The Colts have had success with smaller, lightning quick defensive ends before (Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis). Can they find another one?

3. Cornerback: Find some playmakers who are physical and can cover some of the league's bigger receivers.

MEDICAL WATCH: QB Peyton Manning appears to be making good progress after undergoing neck surgery last month.

"He's in good shape. He'll be fine. He's coming along and we anticipate he'll be able to do the things required of him during the offseason including being ready to throw at OTAs)," head coach Jim Caldwell said.


Visit the ColtPower.com forums!

Follow ColtPower's updates on Twitter!

Take advantage of our FREE seven-day trial!


Colts Blitz Top Stories