A Lot to Like About Preseason Opener, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell Says
ANDERSON, Ind. – Jim Caldwell didn't like everything he saw Sunday.
But Caldwell, entering his second season as the Colts' head coach, said while it was true that there were plenty of mistakes during a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason opener on Sunday, something else was equally true.
There were a lot of positives, too.
The offense played well early. The defense did, too.
Quarterback Peyton Manning played efficiently, and running back Joseph Addai ran hard.
"You get a better view of things (watching tape), obviously, and there were a lot of real good things," Caldwell said Monday, a day after the Colts' 37-17 loss to San Francisco at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"The offense functioned extremely well at the onset and the execution on the inner line play was very, very good. The protection was very solid."
The Colts, the AFC and AFC South champions last year, took a 10-0 lead Sunday, with Manning completing 8 of 10 passes for 91 yards. Manning and the first-team offense played two series, with the second being an 89-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown run by Addai.
Many of the starters, including Manning, left after Addai's run, at which point Indianapolis had out-gained San Francisco, 104-9.
"We had some great effort – Joseph and his great effort to get into the end zone," Caldwell said. "We had a lot of things done really, really well. Peyton threw the ball really, really well. It was a heck of an 89-yard drive. It's tough to put together a drive of 60 yards in this league, let alone 89 yards."
Caldwell also praised the early play of the defense, which forced two first-quarter turnovers – a fumble recovery by defensive end Robert Mathis and an interception by cornerback Jerraud Powers.
"Our defense played extremely well," Caldwell said. "They were tenacious. They were opunistic. We did a lot of things extremely well. There were a lot of things I saw that were very good, and also there were things that you know we have a lot of work to do."
The Colts threw four interceptions after Manning left the game, and second-year backup quarterback Curtis Painter completed nine of 19 passes for 64 yards with three interceptions. The Colts were outgained by San Francisco 288-130 after the first quarter.
Caldwell on Monday said Painter remains the No. 2 quarterback behind Manning.
"The status hasn't changed," Caldwell said. "You have to take it all into consideration – how well they do, how much material they know and understand, how they can regurgitate it. You have to look at everything. You all don't get a chance to see who was supposed to be where on what route and what was supposed to happen in this situation.
"There are a lot of factors that go into it – dropped passes and things of that nature. Sometimes people can get a little ahead of themselves and not give an individual a fair shake."
Caldwell said he still has confidence in Painter.
"He's still our second-team quarterback," Caldwell said. "We believe in him. He's going to develop. It's going to take time. It's not an easy position to play."
The Colts returned to Anderson University and went through a walk-through practice Monday. They will practice twice Tuesday, then break training camp Wednesday before traveling to Toronto for the second game of the 2010 preseason – against the Buffalo Bills Thursday.
That means the Colts will play with just three days between games.
"Every once in a while, we have to face it during the regular season," Caldwell said of the short span between games. "It gives us a chance to go through it again, the Monday-Thursday ballgame. What you have to do is cut back on the amount of hitting maybe you were doing during the course of the week because you're only going to get a few practices in preparation.
"Sometimes, it's better, because it makes you really scale things back a little bit and it works to your advantage."
Caldwell on Monday also addressed the loss for the season of safety Jamie Silva.
Silva, a third-year veteran from Boston College, sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament and is out for the season, the team announced Monday. Silva had been a valuable reserve and one of the team's top special teams players the last two seasons.
"Obviously, he's a guy who has a lot of spirit," Caldwell said. "He runs around and makes a lot of plays for us, so it's tough to see the guy out for the entire season. He's a quality guy who helped us in a number of different areas."
Silva played a key role as a backup at a position that features two-time Pro Bow safeties Antoine Bethea and Bob Sanders, as well as four-year veteran Melvin Bullitt, but no one else with extensive NFL experience.
"There are always opportunities for someone to step in and do the job," Caldwell said. "There are young guys who are out there that right now we're trying to get a feel for."
Caldwell mentioned at the safety position Mike Newton, a rookie free agent from Buffalo who had three interceptions in the Blue and White scrimmage two weekends ago and who had three tackles against San Francisco.
"He's developing and coming along, so we'll see what happens here in the next couple of games," Caldwell said.