The Colts training camp this year has been pretty easy. In only a couple of the practices have they been in full pads, and even when they have been, the hitting has been rather minimal.
It makes sense. With the number of injuries the team has had in recent years and especially last year, head coach Chuck Pagano is playing it safe. As I wrote last week:
"I don't think there's anybody who would blame Chuck Pagano for being extra-cautious this year. After all, this was a team that, entering their week eight bye week, was 5-2 with wins over the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, andDenver Broncos. They were talking Super Bowl. But the injuries mounted, and the Colts couldn't overcome them, with the tipping point being the injury toReggie Wayne in week seven, when he tore his ACL. But way before that, there was the injury to the team's starting tight end Dwayne Allen in week one. Out for the year. There was the injury to the team's starting running back Vick Ballard after week one. Out for the year. There was the injury to the team's starting left guard Donald Thomas in week two. Out for the year. There was the injury to the team's new starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw in week three. Out for the year. There was the injury to the team's starting wide receiver Reggie Wayne in week seven. Out for the year. Teams don't just overcome injuries like that. They just don't. And considering that the Colts have routinely been one of the most injured teams in the league, it's no surprise that Pagano is extra cautious this year with injuries."
Pagano has been trying hard to limit the injuries for the Colts, but so far it hasn't helped. Vick Ballard and Donald Thomas have already been lost for the year and several other guys have suffered less serious injuries. The Colts have taken it easy in camp with the hopes of staying healthy.
But what that also means is that tonight is the first time the Colts will really get to hit. The first tackle by a Colt in the game tonight will be the first real tackle by a Colt in months. It's not that the team hasn't worked in practice - they certainly have. But they haven't hit. There hasn't been contact. So tonight will be a huge night for the Colts because the offensive and defensive lines get to hit, the linebackers get to make tackles, and things like that.
I'm not saying that Pagano's approach has been wrong or bad. In fact, I don't find much wrong with it. But if the Colts are going to take it easy in camp in terms of contact, then I think it makes the preseason games even more important, especially for the defense, because this will be the first time they have contact.
Hopefully, even though they'll be hitting, the Colts will stay healthy. If they do that, the preseason game will be a win, regardless of the actual end result.