So, since the end of mini-camp, we've been doing this little series on players as we countdown to the start Colts training camp in Anderson, IN. In case you have been living under
Peyton Manning's forehead a rock, we're at one week, two days!
Nine days people. Goosebumps.
Anyway, we've done this series focusing mostly on players who need to prove something if they are to have any realistic shot at making the 53-man active roster in September. Today, I'd just like to share my own, personal bias towards certain players. These are the guys I'm rooting for. In some cases, they are players I see potential in, especially if that potential fills an important need. Others are just people I like and, hopefully, they will get an opportunity to establish (or in some cases re-establish) why they are good enough for the 53.
Again, this is just me spewing my opinion; throwing out my personal favorites as we gear up for training camp 2010!
Mitch King, DT
I get a lot of questions from readers and outside people on King. "Why do you like him?" Well, it's simple: He's a fast, speedy defensive tackle who showed a knack for penetrating the line and making big plays in the backfield at Iowa. The Colts have never had a pass rushing DT since the switch to a Tampa-2 defense in 2002. The closest was Raheem Brock in his prime, and I don't think it was a coincidence that the Colts won a Super Bowl with a healthy, pass-rushing DT like Brock in the starting lineup. Unlike players like Daniel Muir, who is a decent but not great interior rusher, King offers the most raw potential at DT. People were very high on him in Titans camp last year prior to him getting hurt. I think he can provide something very special within the interior of the Colts d-line if he is given the chance AND makes the most of that chance AND stays healthy.
Ray Fisher, CB-return man
The Colts are thin at corner. They have two quality starters and one decent back-up. That's it. After that, there are a lot of unknowns. Based on previous history, we can expect to see one or both starting corners miss significant time in 2010. This means Jacob Lacey or, possibly, a collection of rookies, will be asked to play significant plays against premiere wide receivers. One of those unknown rookies is Ray Fisher. If Fisher can pull a Lacey in 2010, I can sleep better at night. Fisher also offers great potential as a return man on punts and kicks. I really hope he wins one or both of those jobs. Having a reserve DB as the return threat opens up more roster possibilities at other key positions.
I'm rooting for him to win Ryan Lilja's old job. He's smart, tough, and BIG! On key third down runs, I want the team to run Mike Hart behind a McClendon block. If he can prove to be an effective pass blocker, I see him as a potential upgrade over Lilja. I don't see that with players like Mike Pollak, Andy Alleman, or Kyle DeVan.
You all know of my not-so-secret man-love for the legend that is Adam Vinatieri. He's the greatest kicker the Colts have ever had, and he is a big reason why this team has won so many big games since 2006. Vinatieri oozes confidence, and unlike any other specialist I've ever seen, Adam V is a football player first, kicker second. Players like Pat McAfee worship the ground he walks on, and other players (from d-linemen or Peyton Manning himself) all respect him. For the first time in two years, Vinatieri seems healthy. A healthy Vinatieri likely means we don't miss 49-yard kicks in Super Bowls.
Bob Sanders, SS
There will always be a special place in my heart for Bob. How can you not love a 5'9 dude who throws 100% of himself in every. single. bone-crushing. tackle. Unfortunately, this mentality is exactly why this 5'9 dude hasn't played much for this team since 2007. When Mike Lombardi's report surfaced that Bob might be done, my heart sank. I think the report is inaccurate, especially since my numerous follow-ups with Lombardi for updates on the story have been meet with silence. That usually is not the case when I deal with NFL media people, which tells me something (or someone) f**ked this story up. Privately, I'm very happy the story seems to be incorrect. I want to see a healthy, active Bob Sanders in Larry Coyer's defense. I really, REALLY want to see it! I want to see it blasted into the faces of the Vince Youngs and Phillip Rivers of this league. Mostly, I just want to see a healthy Bob. It's frustrating to see him miss this much time.
Anyone you are rooting for as we countdown to camp. Share your thoughts. And please, no more shirtless Vinatieri pics.