Peyton Manning is not the kind of guy to simply fall back on his talent. One thing he is known for is the near-obsessive amounts of repetitions he will do with his receivers in order to better understand their running styles, their timing, and their comfort zones.
Where do the like to catch the ball?
What's their favorite route?
How to they respond with adjustments on the fly?
It doesn't matter if you are an undrafted nobody from Small State U. Division III or a first round pick from Ohio State. If you want to get the football, Peyton's gotta know your tendencies.
So, while people like me were openly wondering what role wideout Anthony Gonzalez would play in the offense for the 2010 Colts, Peyton Manning was doing what Peyton Manning does: Working with his receivers, regardless of their status with the team.
This off-season, Peyton did some extra work with Gonzo due in part to the fourth-year wideout missing most of mini-camp with a hamstring injury. After the jump, Peyton talks about what he, Gonzo, and Austin Collie worked on over the off-season, and how that work could spell big things for the Colts in three-wideout sets.
After in arriving in Anderson yesterday for the start of the Colts 2010 training camp, Peyton was asked about Gonzo's health:
I had dinner with Gonzo last night and he sounds really good. We had kind of July off and we spent a little time down in Tennessee some. Gonzalez and Collie came down there and worked out with me because he missed mini-camp. He wanted to get down there and get some reps. He and I had three really good days of throwing where I thought he looked good and I thought he looked quick, had a good burst on all his routes. So his hamstring, I think, that is fully healed. I know he’s really excited to be here in training camp and get started with truly kind of a fresh start to the 2010 season. I know the 2009 was frustrating for him. So, I’m excited for him. There is going to be good healthy competition at the wide receiver position all across the board. All those guys are going to make a big impact for our team this year.
We've said all off-season that the Colts have the deepest corps of wide receivers in the entire NFL. Gonzo is a starting-caliber wide receiver, and yet on this team he is likely the team's fourth WR. Obviously, that status could change any day, but it should make plain just how outstanding this corps group of players really is.
The health of Gonzo is a big topic heading into 2010. Gonzo has struggled to stay healthy, and his recent hamstring injury is just another on a list of frustrating setbacks for the wideout. Staying healthy, and being productive, are top priorities on Gonzo's to-do list in 2010. Clearly, he has a cheerleader in Peyton. Hopefully, the hard work and the confidence Manning has in Gonzo will pay off.