Time to bounce around a bit on a few topics of interest to Colts fans. These are in no particular order, but just stuff that’s bouncing around in my noggin’.
While there are still two preseason games remaining, the gut instinct tells me Mike Adams will eventually win the other safety spot with LaRon Landry. Nobody with the Colts has told me this. It just makes sense. Delano Howell hasn’t practiced in two weeks and Adams is proving he can make plays, even on special teams, when he stripped the ball away Saturday night.
Of course the Colts won’t say the job is won until the end of August when they put out a depth chart. But let’s just call this a hunch. And the first of many. It makes sense to have an experienced pro back there with Landry, who will be looking to close quickly in the box and punish people. Adams, 33, is in his 11th NFL season and will know what’s expected in any defensive scheme.
As is often said in the NFL, you don’t win jobs from the training room. Howell has been sidelined by a neck problem. The longer that lasts, the greater opportunity for others to make this squad.
Switching to the O-line, a veteran offensive lineman made the observation recently that rookie Jack Mewhort, the second-round pick out of Ohio State, doesn’t handle his business like a newcomer. The teammate complimented the kid on his poise, how he handles everything, is tough, smart and ready to face whatever challenge.
While folks know I grew up an Ohio State guy and follow the Buckeyes, NFL logic has taught me that rookies eventually play like rookies. That first year is still an adjustment. Few, with the exception guys like Andrew Luck, step right in and wow everybody.
I’m not saying Mewhort will be a stud. He had his right knee scoped after minicamp and missed a week of practice before returning today. He assures it’s not a big deal. He knows he has to earn his job and keep it. I just thought it interesting that a reserve with nothing to gain by saying something couldn’t help but be impressed by the young man.
It’s also an oft-uttered NFL belief that players grow the most from their first season to the second. That’s why I’m not as worried about Hugh Thornton at offensive right guard as some people might be. Yes, there were times he was solid last year and there were other plays where he looked like, well, a rookie. That he was. But I think he’s going to take that next step. Call it another hunch, or gut instinct.
Now a word about playing it safe. While the buzz at camp has continued at the Colts complex about head coach Chuck Pagano being cautious with his veteran players as well as those coming off serious injuries, it’s the smart move. As much as WR Reggie Wayne wants to show he’s ready, I have no doubt he’ll be focused and the 35-year-old body will perform when the games count. Same for RB Ahmad Bradshaw, who was no longer wearing a red no-contact jersey today at practice.
Some guys are gamers. Simple as that. And preseason, for the most part, is about deciding who makes the roster out of a short list of bubble players. Sure, some starting jobs are won and lost, but most are set before they ever arrive at Anderson University for training camp.
Speaking of bubble players, one of the continuing questions is how many wide receivers will Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson keep? Barring anything unforeseen, we know Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief are set. But will the Colts keep five, and if so, does the next spot go to Da’Rick Rogers or Griff Whalen? Or perhaps the Colts keep six, just to be safe, in case one or two of the guys go down?
One of the last guys to dress after Saturday night’s game was Whalen, who spent some extra time in the cold tub to take care of aches and pains. I mentioned to him that maybe the Colts will keep six wide receivers. “I hope so,” he said with a modest smile.
Whalen is no dummy. He knows it’s a crowded room when the wide receivers meet. We chatted about this during OTAs, too. He told me then he’s just going to worry about doing whatever he can to earn a spot. He can’t worry about what might happen.
Rogers and Whalen both caught TD passes Saturday night. Rogers showed his ability to react to a fade pass in flight and outrun the defender. Whalen was tucked behind two defenders, but looked a Luck fastball right into the bread basket for the sure-handed score. They’re different guys, Rogers with undeniable speed and Whalen the classic hard-working, route-runner, using every little ounce of craftiness to get open.
You won’t be able to blame the Colts if they choose one over the other. I realize so many really like Whalen, an underdog who was undrafted out of Stanford, where he was Luck’s roommate, came to the Colts, spent his rookie year on IR and then on the practice squad before breaking through to the 53-man roster.
I’m not saying what the Colts should do. I’m just acknowledging that Whalen is a kid that many fans are pulling for in the grand scheme of things.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.