Ed Thompson, ColtPower.com: A ton, and most of them are on defense. They’ve had twelve to sixteen players on the sidelines daily at camp, and as soon as they get a couple back they seem to lose more. The key injuries for this weekend’s game include Adam Vinatieri and wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who both sprained their ankles this week. Defensive tackles Corey Simon and Montae Reagor, and LB Freddie Keiaho won’t play either. Although both starting safeties Bob Sanders and Mike Doss were practicing this week, they won’t play on Sunday. Sanders had offseason shoulder surgery and Doss just returned from a leg injury. They want to ease both of them into live action. Starting left guard Ryan Lilja is also questionable with a knee injury and starting right corner Jason David may be out. There are a number of others who are day-to-day at this point.
DF: Indy's preseason began with an onside kick, which brings to mind the idea that some teams just prepare more in the preseason than others. How much gameplanning do Tony Dungy and his coaches put into each preseason game?
ET: They spend quite a bit of time strategically planning out what they want to see during the game so they can best evaluate the true camp battles and the emerging players. They go out with the desire to win the game, but it’s more important to them that they get to see the team and players in different situations. Because of the rule change regarding onsides kickoffs where you can’t have more than six players on one side of the ball, they wanted to see how the team could execute that in a live situation to get used to it. And they said they’re likely to do that again for the practice. They didn’t win a preseason game last year, and it didn’t seem to hurt their regular season.
DF: Can you give us a scouting report on backup QB Jim Sorgi? What other backups might Seattle face that they really need to watch out for?
ET: Sorgi is a consistent, but vanilla quarterback. He’s not going to do much to hurt the team, he’s got a good arm and will move the ball. His stats always look good at the end of the game, but he doesn’t lead sustained drives that put points on the board. He’s going to be challenged in camp by veteran Shaun King. Seattle should see plenty of both of those guys on Sunday. The backups to watch out for include cornerback Kelvin Hayden, who picked off a pass against the Rams in the end zone and who has actually seen some time with the first team at right corner this week. Wide receivers Aaron Moorehead and John Standeford will see more action in Brandon Stokley’s absence. Backup tight end Ben Utecht has made some nice plays in camp and caught a TD pass against the Rams. Backup weakside linebacker Tyjuan Hagler was all over the place last week making plays during mid-portion of the game, as was reserve defensive tackle and undrafted rookie Marcus West later in the game. An interesting name to watch for is safety Chris Laskowski who just came back off of a groin injury. He has successfully switched from linebacker to safety during this offseason and should make some plays.
DF: Based on what you’ve observed through training camp and the first preseason game against the Rams, which players do you think might be surprise survivors of the final cuts?
ET: It’s still a bit early to call, but based on what we’re seeing so far here are two that have a good shot. Wide receiver and returns specialist Ashlan Davis out of Tulsa is getting extensive reps in special teams workouts, so he could make it even if T.J. Rushing claims the primary role. At worst, he should be a practice squad addition. Defensive tackle Marcus West out of Memphis could command some attention if he can continue to post numbers like he did against the Rams. He was the Colts’ leading tackler with ten when the lower end of the depth chart was on the field for both teams. He’s more likely a practice squad player, but he’s got a shot, especially with the Colts banged up a bit on their defensive line. Outside of those two, the Colts are pretty solid in their depth and it’s hard for these undrafted rookies to break through with a team in that type of talent position.
DF: Where are the position battles most intense in the Colts training camp?
ET: The returns specialist battle is the primary one, but the right cornerback position is in dispute as well. The Colts brought in a slew of specialists after losing punt returner Troy Walters to Arizona via free agency. And since Dominic Rhodes has been promoted up the depth chart at running back, the Colts don’t want him returning kickoffs. They’ve already trimmed a few candidates from the roster, but still have a bunch of guys competing for those spots. Rushing and Davis are amongst the front-runners, but wide receiver Dan Sheldon and veteran Terrence Wilkins are also expected to push the competition to the final cuts. At cornerback, incumbent Jason David was being pushed by last year’s top pick Marlin Jackson, who played nickel back during his rookie campaign. But now a third name has entered the mix. David has been sidelined by injury and Jackson didn’t look sharp against the Rams replacing him. Last year’s second-round pick, Kelvin Hayden, is now seeing some reps there and could get consideration.