Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning Says Crowds in Anderson Have Helped This Week
ANDERSON, Ind. – The goal is clear, if not always simple.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said he has taken essentially the same approach in the first week of Colts 2010 Training Camp as he did in his previous 12, the same approach as he does in the off-season and regular season.
Work on the details. Work on improving.
So far, he said, so good.
"Every day, that's how I look at it – try to get a little better every day," Manning said Friday morning between a pair of practices at 2010 Colts Training Camp, which is scheduled to continue through mid-August at Anderson University.
After a Wednesday evening practice was canceled because of inclement weather, the Colts went through a night practice Thursday evening, then returned to practice Friday morning.
The Colts will work in full pads Friday afternoon, with a controlled scrimmage scheduled for Saturday morning closing out the first week of camp. It's a busy time, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said, adding that the full schedule is somewhat by design.
"This is a time when you have the opunity to put your team through a little bit of a test," Caldwell said. "Last night, we had a good, solid practice and this morning, we got them up and got them going. This afternoon, we'll go again in pads. Then, tomorrow morning we'll go again.
"This is a good stretch. I always say that the mental is to the physical 10-to-1, so it's really what you do mentally that counts more so than what you do physically. We really have to tie all of those things together. I think our team has responded well thus far.
"But we have a little bit of a test ahead of us."
Thursday night's practice was well-attended, as was Friday morning's.
"We had a great crowd last night," Manning said. "That was exciting. I think players kind of feed off of that. I think we did some good things. There certainly were some mistakes. I think the key is to continue trying to keep working, to continue to try to get better.
"We had a good practice (Thursday night). You can't come back with an average practice the next day. You have to get better. That's what Coach Caldwell encourages us to do.
"Hopefully, we can keep doing that."
Manning said the value of large, enthusiastic crowds in camp shouldn't be underestimated.
"I think it's great," Manning said. "It makes a difference. I know for me it does, and I have to believe it does for the offensive linemen. It's hot. They're hitting. When you have somebody encouraging you or just hearing some applause there, there's no question that makes a difference for players.
"It helps you push through when you feel like someone's watching and cheering you on. The crowds have been great every day. It was great to see after the rainout that the crowds came back and we had a great turnout the next night.
"That has been outstanding and hopefully that will continue. It helps practice have more enthusiasm and more energy, and I think it's great."
Manning and Caldwell each said a point of emphasis during training camp has been improving the running offense, with each saying early progress has been made.
The Colts, after finishing 31st in rushing in 2008, finished 32nd in the area last season, and they averaged 3.5 yards per carry last season. Manning said the area is a particular focus during training camp, because during the off-season, the lack of pads and contact work make it difficult to address.
"It's very important, especially in training camp because you are in pads," Manning said. "The running game is something, in mini-camp and OTAs, it's hard to know where you are because you're not in pads. This is the time, and really in the pre-season when you're going against another opponent, to kind of see where the changes and points of emphasis are paying off for us.
"It will be a season-long process to see if we're making improvement there. It certainly is a point of emphasis and something we want to do better. It starts in training camp and really goes throughout the entire season."
Said Caldwell, "There's an old coaching adage that says, 'You achieve what you emphasize.' That's one area we're emphasizing. We need to get a little better in that area. It's something we've been working on a couple of years now. We have to continue to progress."
Also on Friday, former Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd attended practice for the first time since retiring following Super Bowl XLIV last February. Mudd coached the offensive line from 1998-2009, and has been succeeded by long-time offensive line assistant Pete Metzelaars.
"Obviously, he was here for such a long time and is such a great person," Caldwell said. "He's certainly a great coach. He can light up a room. The guys love to be around him."
Manning on Friday also addressed:
*Progress at wide receiver: "It's an everyday process. Certainly, with the guys who played last year – Pierre (Garcon) and Austin (Collie) – the timing has improved with those guys with the experience we had last year. It's good to have Anthony (Gonzalez) back out there in pads and work with him. Reggie (Wayne) looks good. This is an opportunity to get the timing with the other guys, whether it's (rookie right end) Brody (Eldridge) or (wide receiver) Taj Smith. This is the opportunity to get reps with those guys. Once the season starts, the amount of plays you're able to run is limited. This is that time and hopefully, we can continue that through camp."
*Backup quarterback Curtis Painter: "Curtis is getting a number of repetitions and he's getting the opportunity to get more experienced. The key to learning is when you're out there on the field getting repetitions as opposed to watching from the sidelines. This is a good opportunity for him. I know he's taking advantage of his opportunity and trying to get comfortable in the offense. . . . It's valuable for him right now."