CHICK-A-BOW-WOW: Many fans have been eager to get a look at Canadian import John Chick, and here's the early word: he looks like the real deal. In fact, while watching pass-rushing drills on the first day of training camp last Monday, I wrote this in my notebook: "John Chick is awesome."
Chick was extremely quick on his first few reps in the pass-rushing drill, beating his man around the edge. But he also showed he can take a tackle head-on, bull-rushing rookie Jeff Linkenbach straight into the backfield.
I've kept my eye on Chick since, and have continued to be impressed. He seems to rely mostly on his quickness to get around the corner on his pass rushes. He's still on a learning curve, of course — one day last week, he was slow to see a screen develop, but recovered — but he has great speed, not just off the line, where he has a terrific first step and is extremely quick off the ball, but in pursuit as well.
Chick's story is a fascinating one. The former Utah State star has been in an NFL camp before — in 2006 with the Texans — but has spent the rest of his pro career in the Canadian Football League, where he won the league's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2009 before signing a future contract with the Colts in February.
Chick turns 28 in November and also has overcome the challenges of diabetes, so he's far from a typical "prospect" attempting to make an NFL roster. At 6-feet-3, 250 pounds, he has the measurables, but appears more slender than most of the ends on the roster. In fact, he looks more like a tight end than a defensive end.
But he certainly plays like he knows what he is doing at DE, and could end up being an under-the-radar weapon for the pass rush in 2010.
Jim Caldwell hinted at that Monday. When answering a question about what Jerry Hughes brings to the pass rush, Caldwell brought up Chick's name when talking about the team's pass rushers, saying Chick "has come along and opened our eyes a little bit."
The real test for Chick will be in the coming weeks, when he has to take the skills he's shown on the practice field to the game field. If he can continue to open eyes, he'll also likely find himself on the opening-day roster.
FRESH FORMATIONS: Most fans — and opponents — know what they are going to see when the Colts line up on offense: a single back, Reggie Wayne split wide to the quarterback's left, another receiver split wide right, a tight end and either a slot receiver or second tight end/H-back.
That's been the set for most of the plays the Colts have used during the Tom Moore/Peyton Manning era. But I've spotted a few different formations and plays during the past week that make me think the Colts may be adding some wrinkles to their normal sets.
One set had a single back, with Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme tight to the line in three-point stances. But the Colts also used two receivers — Austin Collie on the left and Anthony Gonzalez on the right — in flanker formations. Not a huge change, to be sure, but it was an unusual personnel group for the team.
From the shotgun, I've also seen the team work with a running back on either side of Peyton Manning. They mixed it up in drills, but at least a few sets seemed to indicate that Joseph Addai and Donald Brown would both be on the field at the same time. They have also occasionally split running backs out wide, particularly near the goal line.
Add in what seems to be a heightened interest in screen plays — to running backs, tight ends and wide receivers — and it seems like the Colts may have a few surprises in store for opposing defenses this season.
ODDS AND ENDS: Tony Ugoh has been a man in search of a position this offseason, working at both guard and tackle. But one fan suggested a post-football career for Ugoh. "Tony, when are you going to get in the octagon?" the fan asked, implying the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder could be a force in mixed-martial arts. At the very least, he got a chuckle out of Ugoh . . . Pat McAfee is the rare punter who has become a fan favorite — especially, it seems, with female fans. While leaning up against a fence after practice last week, one fan admired McAfee's long blond hair, saying she and her friends were calling him "Goldilocks." The good-natured McAfee took it in stride, saying "That's OK. You should hear what my dad calls me!" . . . One Anderson restaurant was particularly thrilled to have a Colts' visitor last week. "THANKS FOR VISITING PERKINS ERIC FOSTER" proclaims the sign outside the Perkins on the main drag heading into Anderson.
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