Curtis Painter Entering 2010 Training Camp as Colts Backup Quarterback
INDIANAPOLIS – Curtis Painter is ready to see for himself.
Painter, like many young players around the Colts, said he often has heard from veteran players, coaches and front-office personnel how a young NFL player can improve significantly from his rookie season to his second season.
Painter said it's his belief the same can be true of young quarterbacks, and that it can be true for him.
Now, he said he's looking forward for a chance to prove it.
"Obviously, the more you're around here, the more you get to know the offense and the system and you do get comfortable," Painter said recently during the Colts' organized team activities at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"Like it is with any place, the second time around is always a lot easier. . . . The second time around, you're constantly in the offense, then through the off-season, it just makes it real easy to continue to grow and learn about the offense."
As Painter works to improve from his rookie season, he does so with a new role:
Top backup to Peyton Manning.
The Colts for the first time since 2004 will enter the regular season without Jim Sorgi as the backup quarterback. Sorgi, the Colts' backup since 2004, became a free agent following last season and signed with the New York Giants as the backup to Peyton Manning's brother, Eli.
Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said recently the backup entering training camp is Painter.
Painter, a sixth-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft from Purdue University, played sparingly in the first 14 games of the season, playing extensively in the final two games when he completed 8 of 28 passes for 83 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions.
"At this point, Curtis Painter is certainly backing up Peyton," Caldwell said. "He's certainly a guy we think has ability."
"He's making good progress, and with the young guys behind him, we'll see what happens."
Painter, who made the Colts' roster out of training camp after a solid pre-season last season, said while his situation is different from last season for more reasons than just having one season of experience, he also said he won't change his approach because of that.
He said the only way to approach any game is as if he's going to play an imant role, and that will continue to be the case.
"I think all along I've tried to put myself in that position – the 'Next Man Up' philosophy," Painter said. "I've kind of tried to take that approach from the beginning. It may be a little more emphasis now, but mentally, it hasn't changed a whole lot."
Painter said the reality also is moving into the top backup position entering this season isn't really a new move at all. Sorgi missed the last half of last season with a shoulder injury, and spent the final month of the season on injured reserve. Painter was the top backup through that time, and throughout the Colts' post-season run to Super Bowl XLIV.
"Halfway through the season or whatever the case was, I was in that role," Painter said. "It definitely doesn't change much from then. From early on in the season, I guess the emphasis changed a little bit, but for me, last season was just a case of trying to build and get better."
Painter (6-feet-4, 230 pounds), the No. 201 overall selection of the sixth round in the 2009 NFL Draft, completed 987 of 1,648 passes for 11,163 yards and 67 touchdowns with 46 interceptions in four seasons at Purdue. He started 41 career games for the Boilermakers, completing 227 of 379 passes for 2,400 yards and 13 touchdowns with 11 interceptions as a senior.
He then showed potential in the preseason, completing 35 of 59 passes for 283 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions.
And while the Colts' decision to allow Sorgi to sign as a free agent with the New York Giants may have changed his role, he said it didn't change his attitude or approach.
"I don't think it gave me confidence or changed anything either way," Painter said. "I guess it just put me in a position to know I've got to continue to improve and be ready. I guess, again, it moved me one step closer. You've got to continue to prepare and continue to grow and get better."
Said Caldwell, "I think anytime they get into their second year or get a chance to immerse themselves within the concepts of our system, you can see some improvement. I can see that he is a little bit more comfortable in execution, in terms of his play calls and checks and things of that nature.
"He has a little bit better grasp in terms of his read progressions, and he is becoming a bit more accurate. All of those things, I think you've seen him improve upon. It's not a real easy offense to grasp and manage, but I think he is improving day after day."
Painter also said while his performance in the final two regular-season games wasn't what he wanted or expected, the performances are very much in the past. He also said it's experience that can't do anything but help him improve entering the season.
"I think any experience is good experience," Painter said. "Just being in there, getting some live snaps and getting rolling with that, I think it helped out. Obviously, it didn't quite go the way we planned, but improving from some of the mistakes – I think that's the best way to learn. If I can continue to grow from some of those things, I think that will be very helpful going forward.
"Hopefully, I can continue to get better and try to make that jump, to continue to the next step. I just want to continue to improve."
Said Caldwell, "He's a very resilient guy. It should have no effect on him in that regard."