Colts QB Manning Says He Welcomes Work Against Changing Defense
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Peyton Manning always has valued training camp, always has tried to get as much as possible out of as many practices as possible.
He said that's still true, and that this year, camp may even have added value.
Manning, entering his 12th season as the Colts' starting quarterback, said while he is trying to get out of training camp many of the same things as in previous seasons, the Colts' defense this season is offering more looks than in recent seasons.
That makes practices a bit more difficult.
And Manning that's a good thing. Very good.
"I really value these reps going against the starting defense," Manning said Tuesday morning between a pair of 2009 Colts Training Camp practices at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
"I kind of welcome these looks against the starting defense. It's a little more what you see during the course of a season – multiple fronts, different coverages and what not. I think it's good learning for us and our young players – kind of what you're going to see during the course of a season.
"Every day in practice, there's something new to learn from. . . . For us on offense, I think it's good seeing some different looks, because it's what you're going to see during the course of a season."
Manning, who last season won his third Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award in six seasons, said whatever the details of the defense approach, training camp is valuable because of the quality of practice.
"You really form the foundation of your offense and your defense," Manning said. "You get a good feel for what plays work. Training camp is when the starters go against the starters and you just don't do that as much during the season. We do it in certain situations, but in training camp, every day it's starters versus starters.
"That's good competition for linemen to be blocking (defensive ends) Dwight (Freeney) and Robert (Mathis) and the receivers trying to get open on (cornerback) Kelvin (Hayden) or (tight end) Dallas (Clark) trying to get open on our linebackers and safeties."
Manning, who never has missed an NFL start, missed that opunity last offseason, when he missed training camp and preseason after offseason knee surgery.
"There are some advantages to taking advantage of this situation, if you will," Manning said. "I didn't do that last year, and I felt like it did take its toll a little bit early in the season.
"Now, just because I'm in training camp this year, does that mean we'll come out and everything will be great this season? Not necessarily. You still have to do it and earn it, but I definitely like being out there, and I feel like we're certainly further along as an offense at this point than we were at this point last year. . . .
"I just think every day we just have to bring the intensity. We have to keep working to get better every day."
Also Tuesday, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell and offensive lineman Tony Ugoh each discussed Ugoh's new roles as the backup right and left offensive tackle.
Charlie Johnson, a four-year veteran, returned from a pectoral injury on Monday and Caldwell said he will be starting at left tackle, the role Ugoh played much of the last two seasons.
"I'm just going to continue to work," Ugoh said. "My work ethic is not going to change now. I can't do anything more than I did before. I came out and gave 100 percent every day I was out there that I was healthy. That's all I can continue to do, and everything will take care of itself.
"All I can control is my effort and what I do out there. That's the only thing I look forward to doing."
Said Caldwell, "This is a game of competition. Obviously, he's a guy who certainly has a lot of pride in what he's doing. Charlie has been a fine player for us.
"We suspect Tony's probably not happy with the move. He'll do something about it."