The Terre Haute's Tribune Star has their training camp preview up, and (shockingly) it is far more detailed, thoughtful, and interesting than any preview I've ever read at the Indianapolis Star. And unlike the horrid NFL.com camp preview we trashed last week, the TH preview seems to know what its talking about and validates many of off-season themes we've discussed since March.
Good God. Was March really just months ago?
The preview's author, Tom James, starts off (after going through the usual who's hurt and why stuff) by naming the Players to Watch: Roy Hall, Mike Pollak, and Philip Wheeler. All three were impressive during the two minicamps and the off0season programs. We've written often about Pollak and Hall, so I found this nugget about Wheeler intriguing:
Slated to be the top reserve behind starter Gary Brackett at middle linebacker as a rookie, he may get a chance to prove what he can do as the team’s strong side linebacker.
Hagler’s pectoral injury could force a move to the outside for the hard-hitting linebacker from Georgia Tech. Wheeler might be in the mix as a replacement when the team reports for training camp. His ability to quickly diagnose a play, combined with his speed and quickness, should serve him well if given the opportunity.
Tyjuan Hagler better heal up quick, because I'm starting to think that Wheeler will win his job as strongside LBer when the pre-season closes.
Some other interesting notes are the possibility of second year player Clifton Dawson transitioning to a lead blocker on short yardage. This is the first I've heard of this, and definitely something I will look at when I get to camp. Other sleepers they mentioned for camp were WR Devin Aromashodu, WR Courtney Roby, WR Pierre Garcon, WR Sam Giguere, WR Charles Dillon, WR Rudy Burgess, TE Gijon Robinson, RB Chad Simpson, DE Ben Ishola, DE Curtis Johnson, DT Colin Ferrell, DT Eric Foster DT Joe Bradley, LB Jordan Senn, LB Kyle Shotwell, CB Brandon Foster, CB Antonio Smith, and SS Jamie Silva. James also says the free agent rookie Sam Giguere is a "Wes Welker clone."
Is Clifton Dawson Indy's new fullback?
Tom James put emphasis on players like Eric Foster and Devin Aromashodu:
Aromashodu got the attention of his teammates last year as he filled in on a limited basis for Harrison.
Foster is a definitely possibility to earn a spot on the team at the end of training camp.
The article also suggests that kick returning duties will get shared between Dom Rhodes, Dillon, Burgess, Mike Hart, and Simpson. James does not mention TJ Rushing returning kicks, which is interesting to say the least. He did say this about Rushing:
Rushing was drafted to be the team’s kick and punt returner but has proved to be a pretty good cornerback when given the chance to play.
Perhaps Rushing's ability to play CB made him too much of a commodity to just throw out there as a returner. Again, we will pay close attention to see if Rushing is still returning kicks and punts in camp.
Finally, James names his up-and-coming players that could come out of camp and pre-season ready to make an immediate positive impact on the team during the regular season:
In addition to Hall, Pollak and Wheeler, other key players figure to be tight ends Jacob Tamme and Tom Santi; defensive end Marcus Howard; outside linebackers Clint Session and Ramon Guzman; cornerbacks Dante Hughes, Micheal Coe, and Tim Jennings; safeties Melvin Bullitt and Brannon Condren.
Indianapolis’ break out performers could very well be Tamme, Howard, Session, Hughes, Jennings and Bullitt.
This is what football previews are supposed to give you, boys and girls. This article has me fired up big time for training camp, which starts in just four days!