A Rundown of Saturday's Happenings at Training Camp
The Indianapolis Colts signed Brandon James as an undrafted free agent in April with the hopes he may bolster the return game. James, a 5-foot-7, 176-pound returner, played collegiately at Florida and owns four SEC and 11 Florida records for kickoff and punt returns.
James averaged 24.3 yards on kickoff returns and 11.7 yards on punt returns in his collegiate career, and he is expected to get his first chance in the NFL this Sunday against the 49ers in the Colts first preseason game.
Last season, the Colts ranked 28th in the NFL in punt returns, averaging 5.2 yards, and 18th in kickoff return returns with a 22.2-yard average.
The Colts' offense would welcome a shorter field through its special teams, a fact even James took note of while in college.
"I was told that a return man was definitely needed here," James said. "Me following football, just watching the Colts play the last couple of years, I feel like that's one thing they were missing. If they had better field position, the scoring percentage would be a lot better."
James was not the only one who noticed that the Colts could improve in that area.
"I think (the return game) is key for us," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "We need to get a couple of guys that can do it for us. We are going to give a number of guys an opportunity to see what they can do. It is going to be a great competition, and we are all looking forward to that."
James is looking forward to Sunday's game, knowing then is his time to showcase his talent and convince everyone why he belongs in the NFL. But as with all rookies appearing in their first NFL game, there are always nerves to contend with.
"I'm taking it as it is a regular game," James said. "I don't look at it as a preseason game. I am going into it real motivated and try to keep my emotions down a little bit and not let them get the best of me before the game starts. I am just trying to get out there and make some plays.
"Of course there might be some butterflies when you step out there. At the end of the day, when the lights get on and they start the clock, I'll be fine."
Sam Giguere also is expected to contend as a returner, including kickoffs, a position he filled late last season at Buffalo where he had five returns and averaged 24.4 yards with a long of 36.
"Sam is big, strong and fast," Caldwell said. "He has girth to him. He has power. He has speed. We have seen him actually (return before), particularly on kickoff returns. There is not so much guesswork there.
"We will give him an opportunity to do it a few more times this preseason."
And while a consistent returner is necessary, blocking during those returns is just as important.
"I think they kind of go hand-in-hand," Caldwell said. "I do think if we can get a returner, a guy that is fairly elusive and can make some things happen, we are not talking about anybody that is going to return the ball for a touchdown every two or three returns. That's not going to happen in this league. There is too much speed in this league. We just need a guy who is going to be consistent, and when there is a crack there, he is going to get in it and maybe make a couple of guys miss.
"I think that you need not only a quality returner, but the blocking to go along with it. You can't do it alone."
The Colts waived DB-David Caldwell and signed DB-Donye' McCleskey.
PERSONNEL UPDATE FOR COLTS-49ERS GAME
Not Expected to Play: TE-Dallas Clark, DE-Keyunta Dawson, WR-Pierre Garcon, LB-Ramon Humber, OT-Charlie Johnson, OG-Jacques McClendon, C-Jeff Saturday, LB-Clint Session.
NOTE OF THE DAY
The Colts produced 115 victories for the 2000-09 decade, surpassing the league record of 113 by San Francisco from 1990-99.
"The big thing I certainly want to see is efficiency. (Another) big thing is whether or not they can do their job and do it well at the speed that is required. I do think that we have a lot of capable and able-bodied young guys who are excited about this opportunity. We are looking forward to that." – Caldwell on what he wants to see out of his young players in tomorrow's preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I am just going to go out there and have some fun, fly around to the football and try to hit a couple of people. Preseason is real important. This is (my) chance, (my) opportunity here in (these games). It's what they tell you camp is for, just go out and play hard. I guess when you step out on the field there may be some jitters, but I'm doing O.K. now." – DB-Mike Newton on how he feels heading into his first NFL preseason game.
The Colts held one practice on Saturday. The practice started at 9:30 and went for a little more than a hour. The team opens preseason play on Sunday against San Francisco at 1 p.m. in Indianapolis. The Colts return to Anderson on Monday and hold one practice that begins at 4:00 p.m.
The weather in Anderson on Saturday was rainy early and then overcast with a high of 80 degrees during practice according to weather.com.