In roughly two weeks, several NFL teams will start opening their training camps. For the Colts, camp is a little later than usual this year mainly because the team does not open pre-season in the Hall of Fame game this year, and it will not open the regular season on a Thursday night. It's my hope that this little bit of extra time will go a long way to helping this team stay healthy.
For three years, this organization has battled crippling injuries that would have buried lesser teams. To offer perspective: In 2008, the injuries sustained to the Colts offensive and defensive lines were comparable to the loses suffered by the Jaguars. The Jags won 5 games. The Colts won 12. However, despite the Colts' resiliance, I've got to think that they are due for a season where they are not pounded by these roster crushing injuries. Guys getting hurt is one thing. Losing your starting corner back, middle linebacker, both defensive tackles, strong safety, four offensive line spots, and the starting RB for large stretches of time (including the playoffs for some) is not a formula for success.
Hopefully, this is a year where injuries are not as much of a factor. Injuries are not an "excuse" for packing it in and giving up, but they are sometimes the difference between winning and losing. If your opponent is healthy and you are not, chances are he will beat you. That's life, sometimes. It's no secret that the Steelers and Cardinals were two of the healthier teams entering the playoffs last year.
If injuries hit the Colts again this year, they'll likely fight through them as they always do. If this team can stay healthy, then there is nothing that can stand in their way.
And just to give you all some more food for thought as I close out this little Monday morning post:
As you may know, Football Outsiders thinks the San Diego Chargers will be a "surprise" team in 2009. Perhaps this means they think the Chargers will get to the Super Bowl, which is not too crazy a notion. The Chargers are a very talented team, and (as we said last year) their 8-8 record did not reflect how good they were. They should have been 9-7, but weren't because of Ed Hochuli's blown call in Week 2. The Cardinals made the Super Bowl at 9-7.
So, with the Chargers viewed as the favorites, along with the World Champion Steelers and the New England Patriots, where do the Colts fall in line? I had an informal discussion on the phone last week with John Oehser, and we both agreed that there is no position on Indy's roster where they didn't get better. Last year, with a patchwork roster, the Colts beat the Patriots and the Steelers and split with the Chargers. Of those four games, only one was in the Luke (Pats game). When I read season projections for 2009, the Colts are once again overlooked in favor of teams like the Ravens and even the Titans (despite the fact that their best player is now with the Washington Redskins).
So, knowing all this, where do the Colts fall in line for you?