The NFL is full of players from different backgrounds and locations, and the Indianapolis Colts are no different. The Colts have two players with Canadian backgrounds vying for a spot on this year's roster at training camp.
One is wide receiver and kick returner Sam Giguere, who was born in Canada and played football for three years in his hometown at Sherbrooke College.
Another, defensive end John Chick, while being a Wyoming native and playing collegiately at Utah State, played three seasons in the Canadian Football League for the Saskatchewan RoughRiders.
Giguere spent the 2008 season on the Colts practice squad and then suffered a leg injury before training camp that slowed his progress in 2009 until the season finale at Buffalo.
When questioned on the biggest difference between last year and now, Giguere acknowledged it was the regimen of camp.
"This year I know how this all goes with the routine and schedule, and I'm a lot more comfortable with the playbook as well," Giguere said. "I can really focus more on what is going on on the field and trying to get better every day."
Giguere, who is getting more comfortable at the receiver position, also is trying to make his mark on special teams.
"Last year I had an opportunity to return kicks in the last regular season game, and if I can help the team there then I will be more than glad to do that."
After the Houston Texans waived the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Chick in 2006, the defensive end headed to the CFL and became the 2009 Defensive Player-of-the-Year before returning to the NFL this season.
But are the playing styles that much different in the CFL than the NFL?
"There are a few nuances, obviously, that he needs to continue with, but it doesn't seem to slow him down at all," Caldwell said. "He's got strength. He's strong. He's also got length. So we've been pretty pleased with him in terms of what he's been able to pick up and how he's been able to function thus far, but yet he still has a long way to go."
Chick agrees with Caldwell's assessment of his playing ability and style.
"I'm still trying to figure out what my best (skill set) is, but I think I have a good combination of both speed and strength," Chick said. "On moves and things like that, I would say (I have) quite a bit (to learn). I felt like I had an array of moves, but there is always room for learning, and I've learned a lot since I've been here. I just hope to keep taking those in and get better with each day."
Chick said the Colts and RoughRiders are very similar with regards to team chemistry, and that is part of the reason why he came back to give the NFL another try.
"The guys are great and that was a huge part of the decision here," Chick said. "It is very welcoming. It is not, 'Oh, you're a rookie,' or anything like that. They want the best guys to play, and their secret to success isn't really that big of a secret. They do things right."
"PUTTING THE WORK IN"
Peyton Manning is the only remaining member of the Colts roster from the 1998 squad that held training camp at Anderson University.
Suffice to say, Manning has witnessed a number of different players to don a Colts uniform, including a number of receivers. In fact, Manning has thrown 366 career touchdowns, ranking him third in NFL history, and he has thrown touchdowns to 32 different receivers.
-1998- Marshall Faulk, Marvin Harrison, Jerome Pathon, Ken Dilger, Torrance Small, Marcus Pollard, E.G. Green, Lamont Warren
-1999- M. Harrison, K. Dilger, M. Pollard, Edgerrin James, Terrence Wilkins
-2000- M. Harrison, K. Dilger, M. Pollard, J. Pathon, E. James, T. Wilkins, E.G. Green, Jim Finn
-2001- M. Harrison, K. Dilger, M. Pollard, J. Pathon, Trevor Insley
-2002- M. Harrison, M. Pollard, E. James, Reggie Wayne, Qadry Ismail, Mike Roberg, Ricky Williams
-2003- M. Harrison, M. Pollard, R. Wayne, R. Williams, Troy Walters, Dallas Clark, Brandon Stokely, Dominic Rhodes
-2004- M. Harrison, R. Wayne, B. Stokely, D. Clark, M. Pollard, James Mungro
-2005- M. Harrison, R. Wayne, B. Stokely, D. Clark, E. James, T. Walters, Bryan Fletcher, Ben Utecht
-2006- M. Harrison, R. Wayne, B. Stokely, D. Clark, B. Fletcher, Joseph Addai, Dan Klecko, Aaron Moorehead
-2007- M. Harrison, R. Wayne, D. Clark, J. Addai, B. Utecht, Anthony Gonzalez, Kenton Keith, Luke Lawton
-2008- M. Harrison, R. Wayne, D. Clark, J. Addai, A. Gonzalez, D. Rhodes, Tom Santi
-2009- R. Wayne, D. Clark, J. Addai, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie
During that span, Manning and Marvin Harrison surpassed Steve Young and Jerry Rice as the most prolific quarterback-receiver duo in history, totaling 112 touchdowns, breaking the previous record of 85.
Manning and Reggie Wayne have connected for 61 touchdowns and are set to move into fourth place all-time this season if they pass Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry (63) and Jim Kelly and Andre Reed (65).
Dallas Clark (41), Marcus Pollard (34), Brandon Stokely (15) and Edgerrin James (11) are the only other players with double-digit touchdown receptions from Manning during that time.
So how does one of the NFL's all-time most productive passers continue to put up huge numbers year-in and year-out with new receivers?
Practice, practice and more practice.
"I think you have to put the work in when you have a new receiver," Manning said. "You have to watch some film with them, you have to go out and throw with them. The work I've always liked to do is instead of going out and throwing with three quarterbacks and 10 receivers, I'd rather just take one receiver and me and have some truly one-on-one throwing. You might throw 30 routes, but you are talking about the route before hand and you are really trying to teach and get him on the same page with you.
"You have to work to get to know him in the months after the draft (during) May, June and after the practices at training camp. I have always taken the time to do that."
While talking to reporters on Tuesday morning after practice, Manning took a trip down memory lane—reflecting on his inaugural preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks in 1998 and the fact his first pass went for a touchdown to Harrison.
"Certainly when you throw your first pass in the NFL, and it goes for a touchdown, it can be an awkward feeling," Manning recalled. "I remember thinking, 'Well, this NFL is not that hard.' I think I completed only one more pass the rest of the game. I think I completed two more to Seattle and maybe one more to the Colts. It was a pretty humbling feeling."
Manning admitted he had a rough outing after the initial touchdown, but the connection he made with Harrison was the silver lining in that dark cloud.
"I definitely always knew Marvin Harrison was a great player, but I realized you just have to throw a pass to Marvin Harrison and all he does is run (for) touchdowns," Manning said. "That pretty much was true for his whole career."
Manning and Harrison connected for 953 completions for 12,766 yards and 112 touchdowns during their time together between the 1998-2008 seasons, all records for NFL quarterback-receiver combinations.