If you go to the Colts.com message board, a member has found a way to access pre-written "fluff" articles written by Colts.com writer John Oehser. Basically, Oehser writes these articles weeks in advance and has them in the site's content bank. It's not an uncommon practice. Heck, many SB Nation writers use a nifty feature we have now with the 2.0 platform that allows us to write stuff and designate a time when it gets published.
That said, it is a bit humorous that Colts.com would actually post many of these articles (dated several weeks in advance) and try to hide them. That's not to say the articles are bad. They're not. Fluffy? Sure, but it's Colts.com. Do you expect them to trash their own players?
Of the articles, there's one on Freddie Keiaho and one on Roy Hall that are interesting. One theme that has come through each and every one of these player profile-like articles is summed up best by Freddie Keiaho:
“The difference in the comfort level between this year and last year is night and day,” Keiaho said during the Colts’ organized training activities, 14 days of onfield workouts that concluded recently at the team’s training facility.
“I’m pretty sure that’s true for everybody across the board.”
We've heard this consistently all throughout the off-season, with players like Brannon Condren, Roy Hall, Ed Johnson, and others saying they went into last season "lost." They didn't know what to do, weren't comfortable, and had to play through it. The result was a 13-3 record, another AFC South title, and a defense ranked #1 in scoring. This year, players say they feel more comfortable; the systems are quicker to grasp; they are in better shape, etc.
Be afraid, opponents. Be very, very afraid.
Players can often make a big leap from year one to year two, which is one reason why I often take shots at Vince Young. Players like Manning, Brady, McNabb, and Palmer all started showing signs they were elite players by year two. Vince is supposed to be in that category. If not, why was he drafted #3 overall in 2006? Rookie to second year jumps are not just common; they're expected. It's why teams sign rookies to two or three year contracts. You've either got it or you don't, and if you don't you can go somewhere else and "develop."
Players like Keiaho, Matt Giordano, Kelvin Hayden, Joseph Addai, and Antoine Bethea made huge strides from year one to year two. This year, the expectation falls on Roy Hall the hardest. Tony Ugoh, Keyunta Dawson, and Quinn Pitcock all showed promise last season. They have high expectations as well, but with Hall the expectation is greatest. He hasn't shown anything. This year, he must justify his roster spot. Bill Polian has been quick to point out Hall's improvement. This is significant as Polian will never compliment someone's improvement unless they actually improve.
After listening to many of you, there are several areas of this team that fans are interested in when training camp opens. While I love 18to88 and the Zombie brothers, they did say something interesting that I take bit of issue with:
With all due respect to the good guys over at Stampedeblue.com (who I enjoy), I'm not interesting in parsing out who will be the 5th receiver. I'm not curious to see who makes the roster. I'm only very mildly interested in who wins the right guard slot. These things are nice distractions, I guess, but they aren't very satisfying. I'm ready for football season.
Now, of course, speculating whether Mike Pollak or Charlie Johnson will win the RG spot is not as satisfying as watching an actual game. However, I don't think most fans share Desmond Zombie's interest (or lack thereof). Many care who the 4th or 5th WR is because tht player is one injury away from starting. If last season told me anything, you absolutely must have solid, starter-like quality depth behind most positions if you want to win a Super Bowl. Teams must be creative and innovative in finding this depth, but it must be there. We can speculate all we want about how losing Dwight Freeney and Marvin cost Indy a chance to repeat, and it did. If Freeney and Marvin were healthy, we'd have a 2007 trophy to go with 2006.
However, the other side to that is Indy should have had someone compitent to step up and take their places. Not dominant. Not all-world. Not Aaron Moorehead and Jeff Charleston. Just good, competent players who know what to do. This year, I get the sense that Indy has that depth. And yes, just like Desmond, I'm ready for the season to start already.