CAMPING WITH THE COLTS

The Colts held their final practice Thursday morning before they kick off their preseason schedule Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings at Lucas Oil Stadium. Head Coach Jim Caldwell, Peyton Manning and Gary Brackett talk about their anticipation for their first game.

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A Rundown Of Today's Happenings At Training Camp

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READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL

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TERRE HAUTE – As an NFL quarterback, Peyton Manning knows he is going to get hit at some point.

Which is why he would like to get the initial blow out of the way in the preseason.

With the goal of training camp to stay healthy, the Colts coaching staff prevents Manning, and the team's other quarterbacks, from taking any serious licks in practice. But Manning said he likes to get hit at least once during the team's preseason schedule to prepare him for the physicality of the regular season.

"You do kind of want to get in some contact and protect the ball under duress or whatever the situation is so you're ready to go once the season starts," Manning said.

Manning is not the only one looking forward to a little contact. After two weeks of going against teammates in practice everyday, the Colts said they are looking forward to facing someone other than each other on the gridiron. They'll get that chance Friday night, when the team kicks off their preseason schedule and hosts the Minnesota Vikings at Lucas Oil Stadium (7:30 p.m.).

"I am very excited," Colts linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett said. "Obviously, we get to beat up on somebody else. You kind of have to lay off on your own guys (in practice). But we don't have the Colts on our (preseason) schedule, so we'll see where we are at. We take this as an opportunity to get better."

Friday also will be the first time Jim Caldwell has led the Colts into a game in his head coaching tenure.

"I'm looking forward to seeing our entire team," Caldwell said. "From my vantage point, it's different. I'm excited about it and having an opportunity to see how (the team) works, how they function. Game time is when you find all of those things out."

The preseason also provides an opportunity for the team's rookies and younger players to get some playing time and prove themselves to the coaching staff as they try and make the team.

"We find out what we have," Caldwell said. "(The preseason) is when you find out. When the guys hit the field and have an opportunity to play, we'll see how they measure up."

With Manning expected to play in only a couple series and not the past the first quarter, and backup quarterback Jim Sorgi out with a minor hamstring injury, Caldwell said rookie quarterback Curtis Painter is "going to get a pretty good amount of work, which will be good for him."

Painter said he expects a few butterflies early on, but hopes the extra reps he has received in practice will pay off in the preseason opener.

"Hopefully I'll be that much more prepared and the nerves will be out of the way soon," he said. "I'll just be excited to get out there again and play and compete. That's kind of what you look forward to."

With the regular season just a month away, Caldwell said his players have looked "sharp" in camp and hopes his team can carry over that production to Friday night.

"We are looking for performance. We have a saying in our locker room that says, 'Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.' So we are trying to make sure they focus on their techniques and fundamentals, and the outcome of the game will take care of itself."

Despite having the best regular-season record over the past four seasons (51-13), the Colts have struggled in the preseason over the same time period (3-15). On Wednesday, when someone asked Caldwell if fans should be concerned if the Colts start winning their preseason games, the head coach laughed.

"It is something that would be a little different for us," he said. "But nevertheless, our objection is still to win. We look at the preseason as an opportunity to get better, and we are more concerned with that than anything else."

INJURY REPORT
Although the Colts have had a relatively healthy camp thus far, Caldwell he will hold 11 players out of the preseason opener with reasons varying from minor injury to precautionary.

The 11 players are (in alphabetical order): S-Antoine Bethea, TE-Dallas Clark, OT-Ryan Diem, WR-Anthony Gonzalez, WR-Roy Hall, RB-Mike Hart, DB-Kelvin Hayden, DE-Curtis Johnson, TE-Tom Santi, QB-Jim Sorgi and TE-Jacob Tamme.

Also, S-Bob Sanders and K-Adam Vinatieri will not play Friday as they have yet to be activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list. On Thursday, WR-Sam Giguere was activated from the PUP list.

PLAY OF THE DAY
The Colts held an offensive and defensive walkthrough this morning and practiced in shorts.

CALDWELL SAYS
"We are looking forward to giving him a little bit of time to get in there and get a sense of the flow of the game and the competition within (the NFL) and the speed of this league." – Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell on rookie running back Donald Brown

QUOTE OF THE DAY
"You're always ready to hit somebody other than your own teammates. I'm excited (for my) first NFL game ever." – Colts rookie defensive tackle Fili Moala his anticipation for Friday's preseason opener

CAMP SCHEDULE
The Colts held a light practice at 9:30 a.m. Following the workout, the team departed for Indianapolis in anticipation for Friday night's preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

WEATHER REPORT
Thursday morning featured sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. In Indianapolis on Friday, the forecast calls for clear skies and a high of 87 degrees, according to weather.com.

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