2016 #ColtsCamp Q&A: Phil Savage

Intro: Phil Savage has been at Anderson University this week for the start of Colts training camp, interviewing players and coaches with Sirius XM NFL radio. The Senior Bowl executive director sat down with Colts.com for a Q&A about the vibes he’s feeling about the 2016 Colts team, rookie center Ryan Kelly and the position of note in college football this upcoming season.

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2016 #ColtsCamp Q&A: Jason La CanforaColts.com: Phil, you've been here with Sirius XM, really getting a vibe of what's going on here at Colts' camp. You're talking to a lot of the players — I'm sure coaches, too — what is it about this Colts team here in 2016 that stands out to you?**

Savage:"Well I think you have to go back to last year when we were at training camp, and the feeling was Super Bowl or bust. And, of course, through injuries and all the circumstances that derail those hopes, the sense that I get is that this team and this organization, they gained a lot from last year because they had to go through some trials and tribulations; they had to go through some adversity. They held it together and went 8-8; now I think that the casual NFL fan feels like the Colts went 4-12, but they were competitive all the way through. They went 8-8 — I think that they are going to try to build off of that because they did keep things together. Of course, when the season ended, with Chuck (Pagano) and Ryan (Grigson), the owner, Jim Irsay, opts to keep continuity rather than sudden change…"Colts.com:Which is pretty rare these days, right?Savage:"…Which is very rare. I think the players appreciated that. I think they enjoy playing and practicing for Chuck Pagano. And then, the offseason wraps up with the Andrew Luck contract. Now they're here, and to me the question marks are on the field. How good is this offensive line going to be? Who will be the alternate runner to Frank Gore? Where does the pass rush come from outside Robert Mathis? But in this division, I still think (that), at least in theory, with a healthy Andrew Luck, they have to be the favorite, in my mind."Colts.com:Colts take Ryan Kelly No. 18 overall. Not a flash pick by any means, but really filled a need. Is he the real deal, as far as you're concerned, coming out of where he came out of, where he was just such a stud. Is he the real deal?Savage:"Yeah, I do the color for Alabama radio, so I've seen all of Ryan's games through the years, and, I mean, he's a bonafide first-round lineman. You know, I think — and I had this conversation with Ryan Grigson at practice yesterday — is that, you know, there's almost as much emphasis now on the center as there is on the left tackle, because that center is the guy that is controlling the action, in terms of the calls, the communication — it's really important. And now, most people, if they can't create edge pressure, they're trying to push the bottom of the pocket. And so I think Ryan Kelly, it wasn't a dramatic, flashy pick as you said, but I think it's a very secure pick. I think he's going to be an outstanding player from the very first snap."Colts.com:And that's a lot to put on a young guy like Ryan Kelly. You've seen him, obviously, now for years — is he prepared to do that?Savage:"Yeah, I think he is. You know, very mature player. Of course, he had some time to get some seasoning at Alabama. You know, he wasn't an immediate starter, and they had a very decorated lineman named Barrett Jones who played center, guard and tackle in Tuscaloosa, and once Barrett moved on, Ryan plugged in as the center, was the starter for the last three years. And, you know, he's just so mature, he's physically well-built — 6-4, 313 pounds. I think he's got a chance — a lot of people are picking him as a Rookie of the Year because they think he can have that kind of impact on this offense."Colts.com:Now, you talked about Ryan Grigson. What about that draft haul they got this year? Obviously stocked-full of offensive linemen; they got a guy like T.J. Green, who's a big, fast safety. What did you think of the haul overall there?

A great afternoon practice on day two of the Colts 2016 Training Camp!

Savage:"Yeah, I thought that they drafted some players that have high upsides. You know, after they pick Ryan Kelly, they went with T.J. Green. He came out as a junior. I think there's a big ceiling for T.J.; unfortunately he's down right now with an injury, so I didn't get a chance to see him on the field. And then, you know, Le'Raven Clark from Texas Tech: there's a player that comes out of a spread system. He's got a lot to learn, but you can't teach, you know, 6-6, 315 with 36-inch arms. So I think he's got a real potential to develop as a tackle in the future."Colts.com:And then, finally, we all know your involvement with the Senior Bowl, obviously. What would you classify this senior class coming in as? For Colts fans that might not know what to expect, what are kind of the positions of note that you're seeing?Savage:"Yeah, we started out with over 700 names at the beginning of the summer. We're going to put our watch lists out on August the 23rd. It'll be down to probably less than 400. But I think, when you think about next year's senior group, tight ends could be a strong class this year…"Colts.com:Seems to be somewhere where the Colts might want to build some depth, too.Savage:** "…Yeah, they could. You know, I think it's going to be really interesting to keep an eye on, is it Mo Alie-Cox — the tight end from Miami, former basketball player? And then, of course, Jack Doyle is here as a backup to Dwayne Allen. But Dwayne Allen is going to be a key for the Colts. But, aside from that, we always have quality offensive and defensive linemen in the Senior Bowl because most of those players have opted to stay one more year. We don't always get the top-flight skill guys because they leave early, and they're not eligible for our game. But we're looking forward to the season, and we'll be canvassing the country again to put the best rosters together that we can in late-January."

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