Two of the most disappointing draft picks in the Bill Polian era in Indianapolis are Tony Ugoh and Mike Pollak. Ugoh was drafted with (essentially) 2008's first round pick. Pollak was 2008's second round pick. Both were meant to be the young backbones for an offensive line that was getting up there with age.
With longtime great left tackle Tarik Glenn unexpectedly retiring just prior to the 2007 season, it accelerated the development process for Ugoh in particular. At first, Ugoh responded well, but in recent years he's been a mental mistake waiting to happen. The team lost faith in him, and he lost his starting left tackle spot to a 5th round draft pick named Charlie Johnson. With Pollak, he was drafted to replace valued interior guard Jake Scott, who left via free agency after 2007 and joined the Titans. Pollak, who played center in college, has never looked comfortable in the Colts system. He eventually lost his starting job last year to a free agent from the Arena Football League, Kyle DeVan.
However, if you are a fan of second chances, or "new leases on life" as some like call it, then Pro Football Weekly's Dan Arkush has a story for you.
The winds of change started blowing at the team's OG spots early this offseason after longtime starting OLG Ryan Lilja was surprisingly released. The way we hear it, both Ugoh, a second-round pick in 2007, and Pollak, a second-round pick in '08, feel like they've been granted new leases on life in pursuit of possible starting OG berths this coming season.
"Ugoh, in particular, seems like a different guy," said one team source.
Both Ugoh, who lost the starting OLT job to Charlie Johnson last season, and Pollak, who suffered a similar fate when he was replaced at right guard by Kyle DeVan, simply fell out of favor with retired offensive line coach Howard Mudd.
"They just weren't producing, and once you got on Howard's bad side, you could typically forget about it," the source said. "But with Pete (Metzelaars) now in charge, it looks like both guys have been given a second chance."
I too have heard the stories of Howard Mudd's doghouse; how once you got on his bad side, you could pretty much kiss your Colts career goodbye. Howard had little patience for players who didn't commit, made repetitive mistakes, or just didn't pay attention.
Now, with Metzelaars running the show along the offensive line, the tone seems a bit different, and players who were in Mudd's doghouse now might have a new chance to prove themselves.
Ugoh worked some at guard during OTAs for the first time in his professional career. Along with Mike Pollak, the two are vying for two open guard spots on a team with six other candidates on the roster, including free agent Andy Alleman, 4th round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft Jacques McClendon, and last year's starter Kyle DeVan.