Due to the new CBA, teams are required to have an off day more frequently than in past training camps. The Colts today have the day off, and it is a chance to collect our thoughts after the first three days of camp. We will look at the biggest stories that have occurred very early on, and try to add some perspective to them as well.
Andrew Luck: Of course we have to start with Andrew Luck. The rookie QB has completed 76.6 percent of his passes so far in camp, according to those keeping track of his numbers (seemingly a lot of the media in attendance). But let's hold off a little. I fell into the trap myself, saying that I think he may already be better at the deep ball than Peyton Manning has been in recent years. While I believe that is true, we need to all take a step back and realize that this guy is still a rookie, and all the positive things we have been hearing about him have come from camp action without much resemblance to an NFL game level. I think Andrew Luck is the real deal, but we need to hold off crowning him after just three days of camp.
Ben Ijalana and A.J. Edds: The most unfortunate news centers around these two men. Coach Chuck Pagano announced yesterday that both had torn ACLs and would miss the upcoming season. For Edds, it is his second ACL tear in three years, though on different knees. For Ijalana, it is the second year in a row in which he has torn his left ACL. His future is certainly in question, not just with the Colts but in the NFL. Both players would have provided quality depth (Ijalana may even have been starting). It certainly is unfortunate for both players. The Colts are expected to sign their replacements as early as today.
Chuck Pagano and the Steelers fan: In a story that will likely be remembered in Colts history for a long time, Chuck Pagano went up to a fan wearing a Steelers jersey at practice Monday and handed him an Andrew Luck jersey. Pagano reportedly told the fan to either put the jersey on or leave. The fan, there to see former Steelers Bruce Arians and Mewelde Moore, obliged and put the jersey on. And after practice, the Steelers fan got to meet Arians and Moore. Why do Colts fans love this story? For one, it makes them love their coach. Also, it is a welcome change from the Polian era, where this never would have been permitted. A sign of the culture change in Indy (it's still not perfect, however they are working on it. They even credentialed a -gasp- blogger for camp, Nate Dunlevy of Bleacher Report).
Reggie Wayne: the longtime Colt showed up for camp in an army uniform with the Indiana National Guard. "Reggie Wayne reporting for duty". As many have noted, keeping him around was huge, not so much for his play (which is still good) as for his leadership (which so far has been tremendous).
Tony Dungy: The former Colts coach and current NBC Sunday Night Football analyst Tony Dungy visited camp Sunday at the request of owner Jim Irsay. Dungy addressed the team and was there to help Chuck Pagano start his first camp as a head coach. The team must have seemed really foreign to Dungy, as only seven players by my count remain from Dungy's tenure. That said, the beloved coach was impressed with both Pagano and Andrew Luck, even going so far as to say Luck "looked like a third or fourth year guy in his first practice".
Some depth chart info: Two notes here - one is that Jeff Linkenbach was the first team left guard and also Justin King was starting opposite Jerraud Powers at cornerback. The Linkenbach move is puzzling. He is not a good guard at all, while he could have provided really solid depth at tackle. To have him starting at guard really stumps me. I expect Joe Reitz to take over that position shortly. At corner, the second spot is wide open (let's hope that is not what opposing receives are in 2012). In no way am I surprised that Justin King is getting a shot, but I have a hard time seeing him beating out Kevin Thomas or Chris Rucker for the starting spot. But, the position is there for the taking, so we shall see.
Bottom line is that three days of camp are finished. Just three. We cannot legitimately draw conclusions this early on. We must all take a step back and let it play out. But that is incredibly hard to do, because football is finally back.