QUARTERBACK: Starter - Peyton Manning. Backups - Jim Sorgi.
Manning remains the man behind center for the Colts, but the question is how quickly he can get up to speed after missing most of training camp. His productivity has not diminished during his past 10 years in the league and he continues to be the face of the franchise in Indianapolis. Sorgi remains as the primary backup and is familiar with the system.
RUNNING BACKS: Starter - Joseph Addai. Backups - Mike Hart, Dominic Rhodes.
Addai has been very productive since he came into the league as a rookie two years ago. He split playing time with Rhodes in 2006 and did the same last year. Now he has both Rhodes again to share the workload, and Rhodes may end up getting the bulk of the backup duty.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter - Dallas Clark. Backups - Gijon Robinson, Jacob Tamme, Tom Santi.
Clark became the highest paid tight end in the league during the offseason. The remains as to who will end up as his primary backups. Robinson spent his rookie season last year on the practice squad but could end up as the team's starting H-Back. Tamme had a strong preseason while Santi has returned to practice after missing a large portion of training camp after undergoing knee surgery.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne. Backups - Pierre Garcon, Anthony Gonzalez, Roy Hall, Courtney Roby.
Harrison has looked very good during training camp after missing most of the 2007 season with a knee injury. Wayne, meanwhile, has become one of the best overall receivers in the game and has improved his individual stats every year. Gonzalez got off to a slow start as a rookie due to injuries but started to come on late in the year. Hall is a bit of a project, but his size (6-3, 240) and athleticism has impressed the coaching staff.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters - LT Tony Ugoh, LG Daniel Federkeil, C Jamey Richard, RG Charlie Johnson, RT Ryan Diem. Backups - T Corey Hilliard, C/G Steve Justice, G Mike Pollak, C Jeff Saturday.
A knee injury suffered by Saturday during the Colts' fourth preseason game could change the look of one of most underrated offensive lines in the league. Ugoh continues to develop into a topflight left tackle. Johnson will fight for a starting job at right guard. Federkeil can play a number of positions. Pollak, Justice and Richard may end up seeing a lot more playing time this season than anybody figured.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters - LE Robert Mathis, T Raheem Brock, RT Keyunta Dawson, RE Dwight Freeney. Backups - T Eric Foster, E Marcus Howard, E Curtis Johnson, T Darrell Reid, E Josh Thomas.
Freeney and Mathis return after missing playing time with injuries last season. Brock has returned to defensive end to help bolster the outside pass rush but will continue to see some work inside. Thomas and Howard are the primary backups at defensive end, Reid is a proven veteran backup who has become a special teams demon. Foster is a definitely possibility to earn a spot on the team.
LINEBACKERS: Starters – SLB Clint Session, MLB Gary Brackett, WLB Freddy Keiaho. Backups - Jordan Senn, Philip Wheeler, Buster Davis.
The Colts' starting linebacking situation appeared to be settled with Brackett, Hagler and Keiaho as starters. But then Hagler, who has battled a variety of injuries throughout his brief NFL career, suffered a torn pectoral muscle lifting weights. Session -- who played relatively well in a limited role as a rookie last year -- steps in on the strong side. Wheeler had minor knee surgery in training camp but has returned to practice.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - LCB Kelvin Hayden, RCB Marlin Jackson, SS Bob Sanders, FS Antoine Bethea. Backups - S Melvin Bullitt, S Matt Giordano, CB Dante Hughes, CB Tim Jennings.
Bethea and Sanders both earned trips to the Pro Bowl a year ago and a good case could have been made for Jackson and Hayden as well. Giordano gives the Colts quality depth at both safety spots while Bullitt has quickly developed into a strong backup at safety. Now is the time for Jennings, Hughes and Condren to show some that same kind of development and consistency. Second-year CB Michael Coe suffered a knee injury during training camp and has been placed on the Colts' injured reserve list. Third-year CB/KR T.J. Rushing is also out for the season with a knee injury and has been placed on IR.
SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Adam Vinatieri, P Hunter Smith, LS Justin Snow, PR/KR Pierre Garcon.
Vinatieri had another strong season in 2007. Smith has become valuable both as a punter and as one of the league's best holders. The Colts will be looking for a new kickoff and punt return specialist with the loss of T.J. Rushing to a knee injury. Garcon will be a prime candidate for the job. A key for Indianapolis this season, however, will be the play of the team's kickoff and punt coverage units, which has been a problem spot for the Colts in recent years.
Positional Analysis: Indianapolis Colts
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