Colts Held Kickoff Luncheon Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium
The Colts' preseason concluded Thursday night.
So on Friday, the focus turned to the regular season.
And on Friday afternoon, Colts players, coaches, staff and sponsors joined for the club's annual Kickoff Luncheon in downtown Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay opened the luncheon with a few quick remarks, then team President Bill Polian commended the sponsors in the building for helping make Lucas Oil Stadium one of the biggest homefield advantages in the NFL.
"You really make this building come alive, and it really is a driving force for us," Polian said. "We're looking forward to when the (New York) Giants come here (in the home opener) of really revving it up and making it, as usual, the hardest place in the National Football League to play."
Polian also touched on the Colts' NFL record of seven consecutive seasons with 12 or more wins, telling the audience that it is not the team's birthright, but rather a tribute to the players and coaches who have kept the record going year-in and year-out.
Polian also layed out the team's goals for the 2010 season.
"Our goals are as follows; we want to win the division, we want to reach the playoffs, we want to go as far as we can in the playoffs, we want to get the highest seed we can in the playoffs and ultimately we want to get to and win the big game.
"Last year, we achieved all of those milestones except one, and you put that in the history books and move on. Now we're faced with a new season and new challenges. We're very confident that the players seated with you today and the coaches seated with you today are more than ready to meet that challenge. But there is nothing given at this stage. We have 16 games to go."
Polian introduced Ron Jaworski, and NFL analyst for ESPN, who served as the event's keynote speaker. Jaworski talked about the team's success the past decade and specifically two of the people that had a big hand in it.
"It is certainly my pleasure to be in the presence of some incredible people," said Jaworski. "Jim Irsay, what a magnificent job you have done, magnificent. Bill Polian, I could probably spend an hour talking about Bill Polian's accomplishments, not only here, but around the National Football League, the Canadian Football League and football in general."
Jaworski after his opening comments, spoke with Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell and three offensive and defensive players about the upcoming season.
Linebacker Gary Brackett talked about the defense's comfort level increasing now that it has had a full season with coordinator Larry Coyer.
"I think anytime you're in the second year of a system, you're more familiar with your surroundings," Brackett said. "You know exactly what he likes to call in certain situations. Everyone knows how to communicate effectively. I think that helps. We have all of our starters returning, so I'm excited about what this year will bring for us."
Defensive tackle Dan Muir also is excited for the defense's potential. The four-year veteran joined the Colts in 2008 after being waived by Green Bay and despite starting 10 games last season, Muir says the hunger is still there.
"It gives you a level of comfort, but you don't get relaxed at all," Muir said. "I realize I have to work harder now. We have great leaders on our team that make you realize that you have to work harder. Nothing is given to you."
One thing that has been given to the Colts defense is the return of safety Bob Sanders. Sanders was limited to two games last season because of injury, but the 2007 NFL Defensive Player-of-the-Year and two-time Pro Bowler has played in two preseason games and feels "fresh and new."
"It means a lot to have one of your best defensive players on the field," safety Antoine Bethea said. "We know the intensity that he plays the game with, and obviously that is going to help rise everybody's game. Having a great player like Bob is going to help the whole defense."
The offensive players took stage last and talked about how they can build on last season.
"We have great leadership all around," tight end Dallas Clark said. "Every position has experienced players. We're not young. That's a great thing to have. Everyone knows what they have to do to be successful and to improve."
Offensive tackle Ryan Diem said the offense also benefits from the competitiveness that every player has.
"I think when you look at our group as whole, we're all competitors," Diem said. "Competitors are never content; they always want to get better. Everything we do we're trying to improve our game, whether it's summer workouts or practice or training camp, we're all trying to improve every little thing and every part of our game."
The Colts open the 2010 regular season next Sunday, Sept. 12, at AFC South rival Houston at 1 p.m.