Caldwell: Second-Year Receiver Pierre Garcon Making Strides in Organized Team Activities
INDIANAPOLIS – Pierre Garcon didn't bother hiding his smile.
On a bright, early June morning this past Tuesday, Garcon – a second-year wide receiver for the Colts and one of several receivers vying for increased playing time at the position next season – had what Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell later said was an impressive workout.
He got open deep. He made long catches.
He got open short. And made tough catches in crowds.
Yes, it was "only" a summer-school workout, and there were no pads or no contact. But Garcon stood out enough for the Colts' head coach to notice.
And enough to crack a smile later.
"It's good," Garcon said after a mid-morning session of the Colts' 2009 OTAs, which will continue through next week at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. "If they're throwing it to me, you have to catch it. It lets them know I'm still around and he (Colts quarterback Peyton Manning) is still looking at me.
"It helps. You try to get better."
Garcon, a sixth-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft from Mount Union, said he was more concerned Tuesday about a long pass he didn't catch.
"Try to get it tomorrow," he said.
Garcon, who played sparingly as a rookie last season, is one of three or four receivers who has been mentioned by Caldwell and Manning as competing for the third receiver position, which came open in part because of the release for salary-cap reasons of eight-time Pro Bowl selection Marvin Harrison.
"He's coming along," Caldwell said of Garcon Tuesday. "I think you could see in practice today that he can catch your eye. He has the speed, size and strength to be a real fine player. It's just a matter of getting enough experience and getting a better grasp of the system."
Of the roster vacancy left by Harrison's release, Garcon said, "Somebody has to fill it. I plan on doing that, but you can't replace Marvin at all, so I'll do my best, and do what I can."
Garcon played sparingly as a rookie at receiver, catching four passes for 23 yards, and Caldwell earlier this offseason said Garcon mainly needed repetitions to make the improvement necessary to contribute.
"He's gotten better," Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden said. "That's the thing. You want to make that step from your rookie year to your second year. I think he's making those leaps. He's putting in the work and working hard.
"All you have to do now is continue to improve and I think he'll do that."
Garcon this week was asked what he needed to do to continue making that improvement. He listed several imant areas. Consistency. Big plays. Knowledge of the offense.
"Making plays," he said. "Being there."
Asked the difference between his rookie offseason and now, smiled and answered quickly.
"I know the playbook a lot better," he said, "and Peyton trusts me a little more. I understand the defenses more. I know a little more what to do and the timing is better.
"I'm more confident in myself and more relaxed."
With Harrison not on the roster, Caldwell has been asked often this offseason about the need to find a young receiver to be productive along with three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne and third-year veteran Anthony Gonzalez, a pair of former first-round draft selections.
"Obviously, we depend heavily on the pass," Caldwell said. "It has been an integral part of our offense, just in terms of our ability to put the ball in the end zone, so what we're looking for is just the same thing we've had year in and year out. That's a guy who plays that third position who can be a contributor and that comes along and understands the system and is able to adapt and adjust to various coverages.
"I think that's what we're working on and getting. We have some young guys who are in position to give us some help in that situation."
Garcon, who along with Roy Hall, first-year veteran Sam Giguere and rookie fourth-round selection Austin Collie have been mentioned as possibilities at third receiver, said while nothing's guaranteed, "It's a great opportunity."
"It's what I dream for and what I wish for," Garcon said. "I have one year under my belt to learn. Now, to put it all to work, it's the best opportunity I could have."
In other Colts news Wednesday, wide receiver Reggie Wayne participated in the team's OTA session. He is expected to also attend the team's three-day mandatory mini-camp Friday through Sunday.
"Year in and year out, he's probably kept the same schedule," Caldwell said. "He's a guy who keeps himself in great physical condition. I spoke with him a few days ago. He told me he may be in the best shape he ever has been. That's pretty good shape, because he does an excellent job maintaining his condition."