Since Larry Coyer was hired to replace Ron Meeks, we've speculated on what kinds of changes we could see in the Colts defense. While we won't likely see specifics until pre-season (maybe), Colts all-world DE Dwight Freeney (via Indy Football Report), provides us with some insight into the degree of change:
I think you’ll probably see more movement and maybe some different coverages and fronts. Mostly doing some things just to tweak it up a bit and keep the offense on their toes. Ery year going into a new year there is always change. Even with the same coordinator there is going to be change, because you always have to improve from the year before.
The drafting of someone like Jerraud Powers, known as a cover corner and not a zone coverage guy, seems to suggest the Colts will look to switch up coverages. This is nothing new. The Colts often switched from Cover-2 to Cover-3 to man-to-man during the course of games, which is why it's always a bit misleading when people say the Colts run a "Cover-2" defense. Their base coverage package is Cover-2, but corners like Kelvin Hayden and Jerraud Powers can play man as well. And, of course, the Bob Sanders Beatdown Defense is just a silly, fun way of describing a "Cover-3" shell, with Bob down in the box.
It's hard to read too much into quotes, but from what I've read at IFR and other places, Freeney and the defense seem to be taking to Coyer and his new ideas. Offseason Training Activities with the Colts have 87 of 88 players attending. I'll re-write that, in case you missed it: 87 of the current 88 players on this team's roster are in Indianapolis participating in OTAs. The only player absent is Reggie Wayne, who has always trained at the University of Miami. 87 of 88 players are in Indy, working out. Wow.
THAT is what a professional football team does, boys and girls.
Freeney, again via Oehser, talked about the importance of OTAs:
I think it’s very important for obvious reasons. We’re learning a new style, but just to have the whole group together and trying to learn this thing together from the beginning. We get used to each other, he (defensive coordinator, Larry Coyer) can get used to me, and I can get used to him and the way he likes to coach.
A big reason for the huge player turnout is the new coaches. Guys need to know who they are getting their marching orders from. They need to know the changes in scheme, meet some of the new players, and dust off the off-season rust.
Freeney also took the time to comment on Ed Johnson returning to the Colts:
I love Ed. He’s our guy. Not everybody does everything right all the time and some people make mistakes. He understands the mistakes he’s made and we’ll try to give him a second chance. Ed has a lot of potential to be great. He had some off-the-field issues and he’s straightened those things out. He should be good.
Ed was a VERY popular guy in the locker room in 2007 and 2008. I imagine his release in September of 2008 sent shock waves through the roster. Now, with Ed back, there seems to be a genuine sense from the team that he has turned his life around. I don't know details, and I'm pretty sure I don't want to know, but it seems like it was just a matter of maturing. Ed himself seems to hint at this:
I learned a lot. I learned I can’t do a lot of the things I used to do. I learned I have to change a lot of things in my personal life. It wasn’t a good situation that happened, but I think it was a good thing that it happened to me when it did to help me later on in life. I learned a lot. I learned I can’t do a lot of things I used to do. I learned that I have to change a lot of things in my personal life. It wasn’t a good situation to happen, but I think it was a good thing to happen to me, to help me later on in life to learn these things now rather than learn them later on when they could cost me more. . . . Mostly like I said, I changed some of my behaviors, changed some of the people around me, changed some of the things I was doing. Mostly, it was just part of growing up and maturing.
Ed credits his relationship with Jim Caldwell as a big reason why he was able to return to the Colts. Again, despite what Bob Kravitz "thinks," if Tony Dungy were still the head coach, Ed Johnson would have been welcomed back. Dungy is trying to get Michael Vick re-instated into the NFL, and if Coach Duny can vouch for a man who murdered dogs with his bare hands, I'm sure he'd do the same for someone who was caught smoking weed. How Kravitz can't see that, I don't know. 18to88 pretty much destroys all of Kravitz's arguments in a post here.
Big Ed will wear #66 this season. Mookie Johnson now wears #99.