Training Camp Preview: Three Goals

QB Peyton Manning (AP Photo)

Get a rundown of some of the items on the agenda for the Indianapolis Colts when they head to training camp next month.

1. Get healthy on the offensive line: The Colts were beat up, physically, along the offensive line for much of the 2008 season.

Indianapolis played without the services of offensive guard Ryan Lilja (knee) for the entire year while center Jeff Saturday (knee/leg) and offensive tackle Tony Ugoh (knee) both battled injuries during the course of the season.

Rookie offensive guard Mike Pollak, the team's top draft pick in 2008, also missed significant playing time, which opened the door for two other draft picks, center/guard Jamey Richard and guard/center Steve Justice.

For much of the year, Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd was forced to mix and match his personnel in an attempt to form a more cohesive unit. It wasn't easy. But it appears that Lilja is healthy again, as are Saturday, Ugoh and Pollack. Veteran Charlie Johnson incurred a shoulder injury during the offseason but he is expected to be available during training camp.


Getting Addai and the running game in shape is definitely a priority for the team
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

2. Improve the running game: It's safe to say that Indianapolis struggled to get a forceful running game untracked in 2008. The Colts ran for just 1,274 yards, which was the worst single-season total for the franchise since 1992 (1,102). Indianapolis averaged just 3.4 yards per attempt, which was its lowest since 1996 (3.4).

Want more proof that the running game was nearly non-existent in 2008? Joseph Addai had a team-leading 544 yards, which was the fewest yards by a Colts running back since Marshall Faulk had 587 in 1996.

Addai underwent knee surgery during the offseason and could be back to the form that he displayed as a rookie in 2006. The team also made a couple of significant moves by allowing veteran Dominic Rhodes to leave via free agency (he signed with the Buffalo Bills) and making former Connecticut running back Donald Brown their top draft pick. Brown will split playing time with Addai.

Also back is 2008 rookie Mike Hart, who missed the second half of last season due to a knee injury, as well as practice squad runners Chad Simpson and Lance Ball.

3. Find a replacement for Marvin Harrison: There are several candidates in the mix to replace the franchise's all-time leading receiver.

Based on work accomplished during the Colts' spring minicamps and organized team activities, second-year wide receiver Pierre Garcon would appear to be the leading candidate for the job.

While nothing will be decided until the end of training camp, Garcon showed great improvement from the fall. His confidence in knowing the team's complicated offensive scheme was better, as was his consistency in making the tough catch. But he's not the only one who has a chance to work himself into a starting role.

Third-year receiver Roy Hall has battled injuries and inconsistency since being a fifth-round draft pick in 2007. His size (6-feet-3, 240 pounds) and speed are definite plusses and would give the Colts a different look. Rookie Austin Collie, a fourth-round draft pick from BYU, is a contender as are 2008 practice squad members Sam Giguere and Taj Smith.


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