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Steve Justice, Gijon Robinson, Pierre Garcon, and other depth jewels

When will Jeff Saturday return?
Photo: Reuters

It's hard to get jazzed about an upcoming season when players are dropping like flies left and right. And it seems every year we get yet another article bemoaning the state of preseason. I personally take a different approach to preseason. I do think 4 games are fine. It's that 5th game (the Hall of Fame game) that's just not needed. But 4 are needed because, despite what fans think or know, coaches need those games to evaluate talent. And if a marquee player gets hurt in preseason, then oh well. He could have just as easily been hurt on the first play of the first regular season game. He could get hurt in a mid-season game at San Diego, damaging your chances to repeat as World Champions. He can get hurt anytime, anywhere, for any dumb ass reason imaginable.

Injuries happen. They suck, but they are part of the package deal. Next man up, and move on.

One of the reasons I don't like to focus too much on injuries is because if one does, they will go crazy. We could sit here right now and tear our hair out over losing T.J. Rushing for the season and possibly losing Jeff Saturday for an extended period of time. Or, we could just ease our minds with the fact that the Colts are a very deep, very talented team that is well coached. They are fine. And here's why:

  • Indy has 3 or 4 players who can step in and play center if Saturday is gone for an extended period of time. Right now, Steve Justice is the back-up center, but rookies Mike Pollak and Jamey Richard also played center at college. In addition, Ryan Lilja has practiced some at center. Though Pollak likely won't play center for Indy this year, I did find some interesting info on him from an Arizona State fan. SB Nation started a new blog a month ago (and like a jackass, I forgot to welcome him when he started). House of Sparky is our new Arizona State Sun Devils blog, run by ASUBoyd. I asked ASYBoyd about Mike Pollak, who played his college ball at AZ State. This was AZBoyd's answer:

    It is interesting he has been moved to guard, because at 6’4, ~300 he seems like he would be a tad undersized against some of the AFC’s DTs (Jacksonville comes to mind…) You guys seem to run a zone blocking scheme if I remember though, and that would be something he could excel in. He is a very smart player and even graduated early. He also has impressive strength and a great first pop, and was always sound with his technique. He never gives up on blocks, but has difficulty sustaining them against quicker players. He played Center here, obviously, so he was never very adept at pulling or roaming to pick up a linebacker.

    Pollak was definitely the lone bright spot on a historically bad 2007 ASU offensive line. We gave up 55 sacks, and the only player who remained static along the line was Pollak.

    Overall, he is a very solid player and will definitely be missed on an extremely young ASU line this fall. Good pickup for the Colts!

    That's just a little reminder that the Colts has some very solid depth on the o-line, and that if some guys happen to go down, this area is as deep and talented as it has ever been.
  • Dallas Clark is Dallas Clark, and Jacob Tamme has wowed some fans with some impressive preseason games catching the football. But it looks like second year man Gijon Robinson is now the #2 TE. Without question, he is the H-Back or FB the Colts use on their offense, but there is a very specific reason why Gijon is starting. From the ever-knowledgeable Rick Gosselin at the Dallas Morning News:
    The Indianapolis Colts love what TE Dallas Clark brings to the table in the passing game. They've been pleasantly surprised this summer by what former practice squad player Gijon Robinson has brought to the table in the running game. "He's is the best blocking tight end we've had the whole time I've been here," Colts coach Tony Dungy said.
    Straight from Dungy; Gijon can block like no other. We've also seen him make some nice grabs over the middle. TE depth this year is as deep as it has ever been. More the merrier.
  • T.J. Rushing looked like he was poised for a breakout year, but a knee injury against the Bills last Sunday ended his 2008 season. However, the Colts have had a nice stable of KRs and PRs in camp and at practice. Guys like Courtney Roby (who some Colts folks at camp told me they were high on) and Pierre Garcon have both looked good in preseason returning kicks and punts. Though Garcon has shown an annoying tendency to muff punts, Dungy has said that it because Garcon gets too excited when he's returning kicks. He needs to just calm down, and he'll be fine. Dungy seems to rave about Garcon whenever he talks about the return game. This is good, because it was a reason Garcon was drafted in the first place.

So, as you can see, there is still a lot of depth on this team. Injuries happen and we deal, but the key is having someone who can step up and do the job. Don't let the bitterness of last season cloud your enthusiasm. Last year, Bill Polian did not do a good job shoring up depth at pass rusher for the Colts, and it cost them. I'm sorry, but any team that cannot rush the passer might as well not even dress for the game. It's that important.

This year, with Dwight Freeney healthy and rookies like Marcus Howard and Curtis Johnson in the mix, the Colts will be able to rush the passer. They also should be fine filling spots at other areas due to injury. I don't think this is like last year. Bill Polian rarely makes the same mistake twice.

Have a little faith, friends.