As Colts Prepare to Break Camp, Dungy Said Team Accomplished Much in Three Weeks
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The work has been solid, and the weeks have been productive.
And as far as Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy sees it, the Colts' health situation is progressing as anticipated.
Bob Sanders and Dwight Freeney could return soon.
Peyton Manning is on schedule. Ryan Lilja is, too.
With the Colts preparing to break 2008 Training Camp on Friday morning, Dungy – in his seventh season as the team's head coach – on Thursday morning addressed several of the issues that have been ongoing throughout the past three weeks. His overall assessment:
Camp has been productive, and preparation for 2008 – including the progress of the players on the Physically Unable to Perform list – has gone as expected.
"It has been good," Dungy said Thursday between a pair of practices at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology as the Colts prepared to play the Atlanta Falcons in a preseason game at the Georgia Dome Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
"We accomplished what we hoped to. We found out a lot about our younger guys. That's this part of camp. Then, we'll go back and put the finishing touches on it the last two weeks in Indy.
"It's been very productive so far."
The Colts, after returning to Indianapolis from Atlanta, will resume practice and preparation at their training facility in Indianapolis on Monday.
The team will begin preparation early next week for the first game in Lucas Oil Stadium – which will be played against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, August 24. Dungy said Sanders and Freeney could begin practice that week.
Freeney, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end, has yet to practice this season and has been on the PUP list after missing the last seven games of last season with a foot injury. Sanders, a two-time Pro Bowl selection and last year's Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is on PUP after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.
The other players on the PUP list:
Manning (knee), Lilja (knee), tight end Tom Santi (knee) and linebacker Tyjuan Hagler (chest).
"Everybody's kind of on the schedule we thought they'd be on," Dungy said. "I think several of those guys will probably be back by the start of next week. Peyton and Ryan Lilja are the question marks, but it was kind of always that way going on.
"We'll see what happens. Right now, everybody's kind of right where we thought they would be."
Dungy said the team would ideally like the players on PUP to play at least one game before the September 7 regular-season opener against Chicago.
"That would be our hope with all those guys, that they got some work in in the preseason," Dungy said. "That's always ideal. Bob Sanders has had years where he hasn't done that and still plays pretty well, but ideally, you'd like to get some work at the end of training camp.
"That's what the hope is for all of those guys."
Manning, who underwent surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee 10 days before training camp, "is doing exactly what we thought he would do," Dungy said.
Dungy said Santi underwent a similar procedure to Manning about two weeks early than Manning.
"Tom Santi is about ready to come back to practice and I imagine Peyton would be a couple of weeks behind him," Dungy said. "As far as being on target and having no real setbacks, he's doing fine. . . . He's staying active, and at some point, he'll get the OK."
In other Colts news, offensive tackle Tony Ugoh returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday with a bruised knee. Dungy said he expects Ugoh will play Saturday.
"He had a bruise," Dungy said. "I don't know what he hit, but it was really painful yesterday. He seemed to do all right today."